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How To Write A Novel

You will find advice here to help you on your writing journey. Use the search bar or browse through the categories to get a taste of the kind of insights and shortcuts we use to fast track our writers. 
Novel Writing Tips The Hero Three Wise Drafts

Take a note!

Aug 17, 2019
 

The late Barbara Cartland was a prolific writer, even in her eighties she was writing 23 books a year including A Virgin in Mayfair, Cupid Rides Pillion, The Frightened Bride, The Elusive Earl, The Disgraceful Duke and The Knave of Hearts. 

She reclined on a red velvet sofa in the opulent library where, every afternoon, she'd  dictate the next 6,500-word chapter of another book to her literary secretary.

“It’s less ponderous than writing."

She completed a novel on average every two weeks.

Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo) was also accustomed to dictating his novels to a secretary before they were fashioned into his acclaimed works. Stendhal dictated The Charterhouse of Parma to a secretary from Nov. 4 to Dec 26 1838, over 50 days.

Henry James used a secretary to transcribe his spoken words, ushering in a new era of productivity for him which culminated in The Wings of the Dove, widely regarded as one of his finest...

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Over Here, Overachievers!

Aug 11, 2019
 

Many of my beloved writers suffer from a sickness called overachievement - 'the curse of the capable'.

It's a condition for which there seems to be no cure, and yet perhaps there is.

Both intelligent and intuitive, overachievers find their way to The Novelry because they have a feeling the cure is inside the long story. And they're right. 

As we all know, stories have many therapeutic benefits either en masse or taken one at a time. We explore the 'eucatastrophe', the deliverance from evil, described by Tolkien in the Classic Course, and look too at what life problems and psychological ills were chronicled in fairy takes. A little bit of 'doctor heal thyself' is prescribed in the Classic Course which asks you to dig deep into your experience and first loved stories to find the seed of the story you need to write. The translation of your 'wound; into fiction is healing; you hold the problem at arm's length, name it and deal with it. 

...

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Lost and Found. A Member's Story.

Aug 04, 2019

Members News.

A bonanza week with one of our novelists hitting the shortlist of five for The Bath Novel Award 2019. There were 1343 entries so this is a very meaningful coup. We are all beside ourselves with excitement at The Novelry, and hoping our beloved friend will scoop the prize on September 19th as she deserves.

Congratulations to our beloved graduate Rashmi Sirdeshpande on publication of her book "How To Be Extraordinary" courtesy of Penguin Books.

We always have plenty to cheer about, even on a slow day, and this week a number of our writers finished their novels - Jane, Andrew, Jacqui and Aprajita. Well done to all of you. 


This week's blog is courtesy of one of our member's, Kate Tregaskis.

Getting Lost. (A Member's Story.)

I’ve been writing my current novel for approximately three hundred years. Having written and finished one before, inexperience is not the problem. In fact, I have also finished this one, a few times. But it has bounced back from...

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On The Shortlist!

Jul 31, 2019

We are delighted to announce that one of our members, who wrote her novel with The Ninety Day Novel course, is on the shortlist of five novels for The Bath Novel Award 2019.

There were 1341 entries to this prestigious literary award for the best novel and we are all slightly giddy at The Novelry with excitement for our friend. It is so well-deserved!

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The Seed of Success

Jul 28, 2019

Here's how to create a story:

1. Know it

An experience or circumstances of which you have direct knowledge as a participant or an outsider looking in

2. See it

Translate it - to a different time or place or different gender main character - to create arms-length distance to get a more 'divine' perspective on the matter

3. Apply Pity 

Feel for the flaw or failing of the hero taking this journey and appreciate their charisma (magic or personal charm which will prove an amulet to protect them and deliver them to a safe place to find themselves 'beloved' on this earth)

flaw + charisma

4. Own it

Take your most loved book of all time, consider why you love it. If it's a genre - a period of history, or speculative treatment sci-fi or fantasy - or a human psycho-drama or thriller - now's the time to own up to it. What is it about it? A mood? A place? A mode of discourse? A kind of human intimacy? A sense that anything is possible or that everything is impossible. Humour?...

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Literary festivals, Darlings.

Jul 21, 2019

Kiss your darlings!

Grab your tote bag, and fill it with books then head off in pursuit of your literary dreamboats to salute them and get the book signed. One of our members, Anna Pye, gives us an account of her own adventures in stalking an author this week.

Here's a brief account of some of the festivals available to book-loving novelists.

The Bath Festival (May)

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival (May)

Hay Festival (Last week in May)

Winchester Writers' Festival (June)

Wealden Literary Festival (June)

Stoke Newington Literary Festival (June)

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival (July)

Port Eliot Festival (End July)

Edinburgh International Book Festival (Third week in August)

Noirwich - the Perfect Crime Writing Festival (September)

Bloody Scotland - Crime Writing Festival (September)

The Brooklyn Book Festival (September)

Cheltenham Literature Festival (October)

London Literature Festival (October)

Bridport Literary Festival (November)...

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Is This The End?

Jul 14, 2019

It's hard to know for sure when you've reached the end of a novel, insofar as you can take it, by which I mean you're sending it to your agent.

You're battle weary. You can't see the wood for the trees. It's the forty-fifth draft. 

The story makes sense. But your worry may now be that the story makes too much sense at the expense of mystery. So you'll want to go back to a few key moments to make them accurate and translucent - shimmering -  to create more space for the reader. 

I like to perform these last checks while reading Raymond Carver on loop during the last week or so before I hit send.

He was the master when it came to making space for the reader.

"I forget who passed along a copy of Babel’s Collected Stories to me, but I do remember coming across a line from one of his greatest stories. I copied it into the little notebook I carried around with me everywhere in those days. The narrator, speaking about Maupassant and the...

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The Reality of Writing Fantasy

Jul 07, 2019

Adam Langley spent his youth reading books such as the “Animorphs” series by K.A. Applegate and wondering why so many people wanted to go to Hogwarts when they had the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters as an option. Adam has been published on several websites including SyFyWire and Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men.

He has attempted to write a fantasy novel five times. Then he found The Novelry and his fantasy became a reality. He took The Classic Course and wrote his novel using The Ninety Day Novel course.

The Blue Disks of Michaelmas is his first finished novel. It's 89,950 words long.

Here's Adam on the reality of writing his fantasy novel with a day job.


I think all writers, especially writers of science fiction and fantasy, like to plan. We like our extended universes. We like giving our characters more room to move and grow and do stuff that is interesting. The problem arises when we spend more time building a world than we do writing....

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Disaster! The Life-Affirming Purpose of the Apocalyptic Story.

Jun 30, 2019
 

If a novel is one person's moral journey towards acceptance of their place in the universe, then the plot is contrived to give them a gift or gifts to help them on their way to which he or she is particularly ill-suited.

Nail those  - the human flaw and the perfectly unsuitable circumstances  - and you've got the essential irony that powers a novel.

A disaster story brings these into sharp dramatic relief. As one of my writers pointed out this week, the hero of the Jaws movie is afraid of water.

But there's more -  it's not the flaw that's so important in the grand scheme of a disaster story, so much as the hero or heroine's gift.

The narrative path as outlined in The Five F's of story at The Novelry, finds its immaculately opposite form in a disaster story. The negative image. Perhaps that's not surprising, for is a novel is propelled by what the main character wants, in a disaster story it's all about what they don't want to happen.

The starting...

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Welcome to Our World!

Jun 23, 2019

Our writers have shared their photos of their writing spaces to help me create a gallery to show how we work worldwide, in solo and in unison. 

Here's the gallery for those of our writers playing 'Whose Desk Is It Anyway?"

Simply assign a number to a name and post your answers onto our closed Facebook group page today!

You can have a nose around their sacred spaces and find out more about the items they consider essential to their creativity at this page. Scroll down that page to find the screen show which lets you into one space at a time.

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