The Creative Writing Blog

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Welcome to The Novelry blog. Your first stop for all things to do with novel writing. Peruse the articles to troubleshoot your writing problems and get that novel done! Happy writing!

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Podcasts for Writers. Feb 23, 2020

Convert that commute to a crammer session with inspiring content from fine minds in literature and publishing. These podcasts with writers and editors will prove consoling and cheering, and see you through not just the first draft, but the long haul. Ten great podcasts to keep writers smiling.

How To Get Podcasts. 

All podcasts are free, and most are available via many different apps.

On a website:

You can do this from a computer or from the web browser on your phone.

  • Find a website that has podcasts you like.
  • Find the player on the page, check your device’s sound is switched on and click play to listen to the podcast.

On your iPhone or iPad.

If you have an iPhone you can use the Apple podcasts app to listen to podcasts.

  • The Podcasts app should already be downloaded on your phone so search your apps for ‘Podcasts’. If it’s not, go to the app store and download it.
  • Open the Podcast app and go to the search page...
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Editing a Novel: The Final Polishing of Your Manuscript Feb 09, 2020

 

How to edit a novel?

It's a two-stage process.

First, DIY. You grow as an author by being able to edit your own novel through numerous passes, and our Editing courses will help you eliminate a few drafts. We'll show you how to do it, giving you a method to last you a lifetime. 

Second, Professional Help. When you've done multiple successive drafts and cracked story and character development to the satisfaction of any reader, you'll want to dot some i's and cross some t's and you may wisely feel you need another pair of eyes on your full manuscript and some final proofreading beyond the tools we recommend at The Novelry, you'll need some human help which can take into account your creative treatment's quirks and ploys. Our Editorial Department at The Novelry are seasoned publishing professionals from the 'Big Five' publishers. They know what publishers are seeking. Join us, and benefit from the best expertise on your novel-in-waiting.

1. DIY.

You...

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Writing Competitions. Feb 02, 2020

Would You? Should You? Could You?

It's worth thinking what entering competitions can do for you and your career as an author.

Some points of view from our writers.

From Longlist to Literary Agent: My Year of Writing Competitions. 

By Louise Tucker, member of The Novelry.

This time last year I started entering my unpublished novel into writing competitions. I had drafted and redrafted it, had good feedback from agents but no takers, and wasn’t quite sure whether to give it up and start something else. Then someone at The Novelry shared a link about the Stockholm Writers’ Festival First Pages Prize and, thinking I had nothing to lose but money, I entered.

The same week another friend at The Novelry put up a reminder about the Lucy Cavendish Prize and I decided to enter that too. What harm? I thought, as I pressed the ‘submit’ button and paid out some more cash; at least I was constantly revising and revisiting the crucial first pages and chapters.

A...

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The 21st Century Title. Jan 26, 2020

 

 

In the first blog of the series, we took a look at why you should start your novel writing plan with your title rather than pick and mix as you go or pin a tail on the donkey at the end. In the second blog we saw the dominant form for the novel title prior to the Twentieth Century was the eponym - or the name of the main character of the story. In the third blog of this series, we saw how the dominant form for the novel title in the Twentieth Century became the Reference; poetic or biblical. In the fourth blog, we saw the emergence of low-brow references and the rise and rise of the Supermodel Solo title at the end of the century.

Welcome to the 21st Century, which we might describe as the Age of Obscurantism, with strained efforts on the part of authors to reach for titles which challenge the reader.

References become more scientific, technical, ever-so academic, arcane, abstruse and sometimes unwelcoming of the less advanced reader...

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Book Titles of the Later Twentieth Century. Jan 19, 2020

In the first blog of the series, we saw the dominant form for the novel title prior to the Twentieth Century was the eponym - or the name of the main character of the story. In the last blog this series, we saw how the dominant form for the novel title in the Twentieth Century became the Reference; poetic or biblical. Perhaps they've given you inspiration for writing your own novel title as a statement of your literary purpose to guide writing our novel from the start?

Now we are going to look at the rise of other forms, one a cunningly disguised variant of the Reference, and the other the late Twentieth Century 'supermodel' of titles. 

Here's a recap on how the widely acclaimed best novels of the Twentieth Century are titled - in clusters.

 

The Subversive Reference.

Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men was published in 1946, and as we saw in the last blog, the title is derived from a low-brow source - Humpty Dumpty. 

First titled...

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Book Titles of the Twentieth Century. How They Work. Jan 12, 2020

In the last blog, we saw the dominant form for the novel title prior to the Twentieth Century was the eponym - or the name of the main character of the story. To an extent, this is reflective of the tacit understanding of the novel's purpose as form versus a play or a short story or a poem - as one person's moral or literal journey. 

It's all change in the Twentieth Century!

In this first of two, we're going to look at the first half of the century, and in the next the end of the Twentieth Century as there's a sea change from the 1980's.

In the Twentieth Century the eponym is old news and almost gone.

Yes, there's a slightly broader range of 'statements of literary intention' but not so much as you might think.

In fact, the title form from 1900-2000 is dominated by one form.

The Reference. (The Deferential Doffing of the Author's Cap.)

The citation or quotation. A referential, deferential, preferential doffing of the hat either to the Bard, the poets, or to the...

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How I wrote my novel with The Novelry Jan 06, 2020

By Cate Guthleben

I've started many books over the years but, until today, I'd only finished one. That one came from an MA in Creative Writing and took nearly two years to write. After I'd finished I sent it off to agents and publishers and got some nice comments on my writing, but no enthusiasm at all for the book. I knew it was flawed but didn't know how to fix it.

A little while later I started another. This one was going to be the one. It had a cracking premise and a protagonist I really cared about. I took a synopsis and three chapters to a Writers' Workshop conference in York and got really positive feedback from three agents. One wanted to see it as soon as I had finished. But I couldn't finish it. I got stuck somewhere around the middle and stayed stuck for a year. Then I read a review in the Sunday Times of my book. Same premise, same setting, same main character name for God's sake!

I wallowed for another year, flip-flopping between writing mine anyway and throwing it...

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Book Titles. How They Work. Jan 05, 2020

 

Welcome to Titology, or the study of titles.

In this short series of blogs on the origins of novel titles, I will perform a rude taxonomy to classify the species. For my roll call I'm using a combination of the bestselling, best-regarded 'Top 100 Novels' lists from the UK and the USA.

A title is a statement of literary intention.

As a form in itself it has become increasingly nuanced over time, but it's still possible to decipher the motives and meanings behind titles, and quite fascinating. Once armed you can title your book with confidence and sharpen your creative intentions. When we know what we're doing, as authors, we tend to do it rather well. When we don't we tend to do it rather badly. Post-rationalising your intentions in multiple drafts of a novel is a bore, as I described in the last blog.

Now, the modern novel is considered to have started in 1605 with The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes better known as...

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Novel Titles. (Why You Should Start Here.) Dec 29, 2019

 

"In my younger and more vulnerable years," (to borrow from the opening line of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald) I would write a novel, many times over many drafts, discarding huge amounts of material, then set about the business of the novel title. 

My 'blue' period of retro-fitting a novel title has been one of twenty years, so you could say it's become a habit. Possibly a bad habit. I wonder how other novelists work?  As you will know from an earlier blog, Scott Fitzgerald struggled with the title of his most famous work and it came after the novel was complete.

Having become aware, thanks to exposure to The Novelry, that most writers can write, but most (like me) struggle with story, I've sharpened my practice and put story first and foremost, and I teach that way too. We begin with what readers want; story. The idea for a story needs to be good, not great, but good enough. The rest is in the treatment and the logic that unfolds what happens next.

As...

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Retreat! Dec 15, 2019

 

Taking time out of 'normal' life to immerse yourself in your other world is important for a writer. It's not so much about word count that comes with the daily practice, it's about leaps of insight in terms of the story and theme. Step changes.

These happen at a remove from the habits, routines and chores which obscure the bigger picture. If you want to take your novel to the next level, you need to get away. Not for sightseeing, though walks are helpful to refresh tired eyes, for a relief from the interruptions and duties that keep your mired, pedalling to stand still.

Our writers' retreats are carefully constructed to ensure complete full-body immersion in the world of your novel. No road noise. No deliveries. No cooking. Comfort. We believe in pillows; wonderful pillows for heads to dream new dreams.

Whenever I return to our retreat at Marshwood Manor in rural Dorset, that first night I have the sense of tipping backwards in the bed, as if my head is...

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