The Novelry Blog
Where the writers are.
This week's story comes from Bec Davidson who joined us this month to write her novel at last.
A Stranger to Myself
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...
The KonMari Method For Writers.
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 my manuscript after The Big Edit at 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...
Writing Off Grid.
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...
Ten Second Tips From Writer Superheroes.
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.
- Your story (courtesy of Tolstoy) "All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”
- Your plot (thanks to Epictetus) "Difficulties are things that show a person what they are."
- Your material (cheers Miranda July!) "There's no law against asking strangers about their lives and feelings, although sometimes it really feels like there is."
Our novelists are writing across most genres - Literary, sci-fi, speculative, thrillers, historical, romance, comedy, for adults, young adults and children's - so a writer will quickly find a like-minded author to reach out to for company on their big write.
I've invited some of our writers to share the story so far; what's compelling them to write...
Time to add some heat to your 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 this the year you raise your writing game and complete a novel to the highest standard, come and join us.
'Life-changing' is how writers describe writing their novel with The Novelry.
To view the full year make sure you're viewing this interactive Annual in your desktop...
The Writer's Solstice.
Welcome to the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere - the time when we experience the longest period of darkness and the shortest daylight hours before the rebirth of the sun as the daylight hours begin getting longer again.
On the shortest day, the sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. We experience the longest night. The shortest day of the year lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes and 41 seconds in Britain (8 hours, 49 minutes shorter than the summer solstice.)
Stonehenge is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset. Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC and it is thought that the winter solstice was actually more important to the people who constructed Stonehenge than the Summer solstice. The winter solstice was a time when cattle was slaughtered (so the animals would not have to be fed during the winter) and the majority of wine and beer was finally...
As you write that last chapter, the temptation is very strong to share some of it. That's when you need a good friend, or better a bad one, or far, far better a fellow writer to tell you -
HELL NO! Hold fire.
Finishing a novel is an emotional moment. Cue Chariots of Fire music.
"Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it." Truman Capote.
"After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day." Ernest Hemingway.
“I moved, looking for a cigarette. They were in my hand. I lit one. In a moment, I thought, I will say something. I will say something and then I will walk out of this room forever.”
Oh, the joy of the morning walk before you head to the desk to write that ending! You can see the shining faces of those characters of yours,...
If you're about to write a novel, start with the midpoint. That's the place to begin to build your world around.
The midpoint is the point of no return in the story, where the character undergoes a crisis, enlightenment cracks the shutters. The main character begins to wake up to the the qualities necessary to reverse the misfortune or pursue the action of the book through to a resolution she or he can live with and accept.
This is the point in the story at which the main character is most challenged and at their lowest. It speaks volumes about your true intentions for the book.
You may not be clear about these at first draft - I am usually a little in the dark - but locating the belly button will help you sort out 'what the hell is this book really about.' The idea is developed in John Yorke's book Into The Woods as a convention axiomatic to the development of screenplays.
'The midpoint in our change paradigm corresponds to the moment of Vogler's 'supreme ordeal'... the...
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