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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How To Write a Book Fast. The Morning Routine. Sep 08, 2019

Morning Folks,

Happy is the writer with a habit! If you want to write a book fast, write daily. Routine wins the race. Most of my writers follow the encouragement we give to write first thing, fresh from dreams, emboldened by coffee and in advance of the maddening crowds, the kids and the day job.

Part of our method for getting writers to complete their novels is blatant bribery. I suggest writers grant themselves a few perks during the writing of the first draft and bribe themselves out of bed. Upgrade your coffee-making, get a few indulgent pastries in. (No one said you'd lose weight writing a novel.) The course has you prepare your time and space before you start writing so that you get out of bed and go somewhere really special to you.

It's a great feeling to have your really important work out of the way before you attend to lesser emergencies! Don't switch on that phone, don't check email, take one hour for yourself and you'll see how enriching it is not just...

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Pushkin snaps up debut by The Novelry graduate. Sep 02, 2019

Pushkin will publish Susie Bower's children's debut next year. 

Susie decided to turn her hand to children's fiction and took the Classic Novel Writing Course at The Novelry. She wrote her novel with The Ninety Day Novel course and edited with our Novel Editing Course, of course! The Novelry was pleased to introduce Susie's work to our partner literary agency PFD.

A home run!

Sarah Odedina, editor-at-large for Pushkin Children’s Books, has bought UK and Commonwealth rights in School for Nobodies from Silvia Molteni at PFD.

Odedina said: "This lovely novel has the perfect blend of excitement, emotional power and magic to hook any young reader and Susie’s super confident world-building makes this one of the most assured debuts I have read for some time."

Bower lives in Bristol and when she is not writing fiction she writes audio scripts, transporting children anywhere from the Jurassic age to the depths of the ocean. She is also known for writing and...

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Congratulations to Our Member Winner of the Lost The Plot Prize. Aug 29, 2019
THE WINNER!
 
Many congratulations to our beloved Louise Tucker who has written a novel that's winning the hearts of readers.
 
From The Bookseller:

Louise Tucker has won the inaugural Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize for her "tender, moving, beautifully drawn" novel.

The award for unfinished manuscripts was launched earlier this year by Peters Fraser + Dunlop e-book imprint Agora Books.

Tucker wins a consultation with an Agora editor and a PFD agent. She was selected from 377 entries by a judging panel of Agora publisher Kate Evans, Bookseller Rising Star and PFD literary agent Marilia Savvides, author Laura Pearson, and book blogger Amanda Chatteron.

Her novel is described as a “touching tale of aging, grief, and self-discovery” about main character George, whose day of celebration turns into one of misery.

Tucker said: “I am so delighted to win the Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize. The main character,...

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Our Literary Agents. Aug 25, 2019

A year ago, Peters, Fraser + Dunlop contacted me, taking note of the quality of work coming out of The Novelry through our creative writing courses, and asked whether an association might be useful for all parties. So, I went to meet with Tessa David and Tim Bates of PFD on New Oxford Street and we had a chat about the kind of writing that excites us all. We agreed to work together to progress talent coming out of The Novelry, and I asked them for one thing; that the Novelry's graduates get VIP treatment. When I submit work on my writers' behalf, the agency should give us an expression of interest within two weeks. 

Since then other agents have been in touch with The Novelry asking to be on our list for first sight of great novels as they emerge hot from our oven, and I've made contact with agents I know to be wonderful advocates of their writers' work in genres useful to my writers. The same deal applies to all - no slush pile! A two-week reading and...

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Using Dictation to Write a Book 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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How To Be a Good (Enough) Writer. Aug 11, 2019

 

"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." John Steinbeck.

Many of my beloved writers at The Novelry 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 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 at The Novelry, and look at the life problems and psychological ills were chronicled in fairy tales. A little bit of 'doctor heal thyself' is prescribed in our story starter 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. 

Overachievers throw...

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Five Steps to Creating a Story 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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A List of the UK's Best Literary Festivals. 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, who undertook one of our novel writing courses, 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)

Norwich - 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)

...

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How to End a Book - Famous Last Sentences Jul 14, 2019

It's hard to know for sure when you've reached the end of a novel. 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 writing of fiction, says: “No iron can pierce the heart with such force...

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What Are The Ingredients For A Successful Disaster 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.

Start with character-driven irony.

A disaster story brings these into sharp dramatic relief. It loves irony: the hero of the Jaws movie is afraid of water.

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

While a novel is usually propelled by what the main character wants, in a disaster story it's all about what they don't want to happen.

The hero's gift.

The starting point is the hero's strong suit, his or her particular aptitude. This means he or she is particularly well-suited...

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