Last week, we were on our annual residential writing course 'The Full English' in Dorset. The value of revision became manifestly abundant over the course of a very intense week taking prose through rounds of work towards a shining, tight truth by the end of our seven days together.
I began the week with a lesson on 'Glamour' - and how what is concealed up front in your novel will of necessity be revealed. We begin our story by showing that to all appearances all's well but the veneer conceals a lie. It's the nature of THE LIE which is at the heart of your story, and it's the chipping away at it, the revelatory process which drives the plot. If you're a writer in search of an idea, start with a big lie.
We looked at how with The Great Gatsby it was Scott Fitzgerald's intention from the start to establish a veneer of glamour in his prose and story. He had his eyes on the big lie - the American Dream - which he foresaw as doomed.
I told my writers...
We are delighted to announce that The Novelry has won 2 of the 7 categories for Best Online Creative Writing Courses as judged by the formidable John Fox aka The Book Fox.
Winner - Best Course for Writing Your Novel
Winner - Best Course for Editing Your Novel
"I’ve gone through all 100 video lessons and loved it — and you can get extra personalized feedback from Louise Dean herself (both over Skype and through written feedback)." John Fox.
For a limited period you can try 14 days of the Ninety Day Novel course free.
This week's story comes from Bec Davidson who joined us this month to writer her novel at last.
A decade ago, a dark cloak of loneliness settled over me with an effortless familiarity. I was adjusting to a new life living as an expatriate in Hong Kong. My unwanted solitude became an ‘enabler’ to my long-standing reading addiction. Closeness to the equator meant short days and long nights. My darkened hours became punctuated with Austen, McGregor, Fitzgerald, Ballard, Orwell, Huxley, Greene and many more of the literary greats. The characters became my friends and I became immersed in my new companions’ lives.
I read until the starlight faded, and the first smudges of light darted through my bedroom window. Only in the singular beat, before the milky dawn eclipsed the neon-lighted sky, would sleep pull me away.
Gruelling rounds of infertility treatment led me down a depressive pathway. A sadness quickly planted...
I love a good edit. I love how close that word is to tidy.
Here's how my novel seems to me to be after the first draft.
Here's how I like to think of it turning out after the big edit, the second draft:
The second draft is light years ahead of the first - it is organized as a story.
The story has drama! Light and shade. A villain with a purpose and a stumbling heroine or hero. A theme - as in something I am going to damn well prove to be true. This should be there at first draft, and it was, but it was crummy. Now it's looking like I mean business. The layering of rewriting fattens the chapters and their content should hit the reader with impact, images and ideas, forthright pronouncements, deceit, conflict, lies, desires are regulated in the second draft to propel the heroine towards facing her mortal condition, and working out how to use the time she has here on this earth.
Thanks to a dose of Sophocles' Theban Plays and Shakespeare's...
On Monday morning, I asked Siri what the weather was like. Minus Four, Siri told me.
Waving bye-bye to Wifi I went off into the woods to sit in a shed down the track from my mother's house. The heater required assembly. Communicating between woollen-hatted brows and muffled chins, fumbling with our fingerless gloves on, mother and I failed. I plugged it in anyway, it tried its best but it was a poor excuse for a heater.
My little dog admired the ice on the inside of the windows, enjoyed a tryst with an old pair of shoes my mother had thoughtfully left for him, then curled up in an old wicker armchair, nose in tail.
It's a remote and secluded place, no traffic noise at all. My mother doesn't have the internet and her house is at a little distance. She left me the bell she used as a child to tell her father to come in from the nursery gardens for his tea. I was to ring it if I needed her. We were both rather excited about the whole...
Get a shot in your writer's arm when you follow us on Instagram @thenovelry. Here's a selection of this week's top tips which might help you create your novel outline.
In January, our regular intake of writers is boosted by novelists who have decided that this will be their year. They're welcomed by our members at our online forum and our closed group online, and gradually they take off their gloves and balaclavas when they figure out it's warm inside at The Novelry.
Our novelists are writing...
Get working on that first chapter to clinch the top spot in our annual competition The Firestarter which recognizes the potential of a novel from the outset.
The winning entry will be submitted to our literary agent partners along with the entire manuscript, if ready. There is a prize of £150 for use at The Novelry for any course or retreat.
The prize is open to all members subscribed by 1st February 2019 (you can subscribe for just £14.99 a month here) and the winner is selected by first past the post voting of all members.
The deadline and closing date for submissions and posting of entries is 1st March at midnight.
All members will be asked to vote by email before midnight 8th March. The winner will be announced in the Sunday blog to follow on 10th March.
Write, revise, rewrite. Rinse and repeat!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the opening pages of a novel...
'Your voice. Yes, find it. Don't ask me how. It's a discovery that's as mysterious as it sounds, but at some point you will suddenly realize that you are channelling an authentic part of you. And that's it. Magic.'
Step 1: Forget about it.
The default option for all writers is to disappear from your work entirely.
'Invisibility is a superpower.' Banksy.
This is a good place to start. It’s the only place to start. If you start with what you think is a voice, you're bound to make the mistake of being 'quirky' along with 99% of writers. Just check those Twitter profiles. It's a mistake we can all make. We all want to be 'different'. But that 'quirky' voice may well be derivative (favourite book, last book you read) and if it’s a faker's voice, you will alienate half your readers (and half the agents.) You can't afford to do that.
So start by going for prose like a window pane, as George Orwell put it.
If you do not progress from step...
A huge thank you to all of our wonderful members for a fabulous writing year in 2018.
We have laughed, we have whinged, we have celebrated. We have been there for each other. (Enjoy the candid camera outtake from the trip to Oxford above!)
We have cheered each other over the finishing line and witnessed at first hand the hard work, commitment and sense of humour required to write a good novel. Wishing you all an exciting 2019 and - of course - a happy new novel! We will be in full swing from the beginning of January with a new intake of members ready to write their novels and get on the road to literary glory!
We always give new members the warmest of welcomes, so if you're serious about making 2019 the year you raise your writing game and complete a novel to the highest standard, come and join us. Find the course that's just right for you here.
One of our wonderful members, Susie Nott-Bower found out yesterday that she has been longlisted for the Bath Children's Novel Award!
Susie took our children's book course - The Classic Course - in Spring and wrote her first children's novel with us, and some were lucky enough to hear her read from it on our Sunday night live team chat last week. Her reading was met with unanimous delight and praise.
This is so well-deserved.
Says Susie, "I'm so thrilled, and just want to say an enormous thank you, because if it hadn't been for the Classics Course, it would never have been written. I really appreciate your support and all the inspiration that The Novelry has given me."
What did Susie do?
She took the course, she committed herself to writing the novel in a season, she drew upon the support of her fellow writers and shared her work for feedback to improve it. She worked hard and used all the resources available to her.
Here's to you, Susie! Merry Christmas.
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