The Novelry Blog
Where the writers are.
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...
"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.
If you know what you'd like write, get started with our creative writing course like the Ninety Day Novel course. If you're a writer short of an idea, the Classic course will help you create a powerful story. If you mean business, and 2020 is the year you're writing that book, then sign up for our Book in a Year program for a safe and steady managed process. In the meantime, mull the idea over. Consider how you're going to write it. Here's this year's annual for novelists. Click on any image to read novel writing tips from Louise Dean. You can find the complete collection of our writing advice for those writing a novel here. Happy reading!
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...
A Member's Story.
SLAYING DRAGONS or how The Novelry saved a writing life.
"Kill the dragon," said Louise.
I was enmeshed in one of my all-too-frequent cycles of Writer’s Doooooom. My antagonist – a shapeshifter – had four alter egos: an evil taxi driver, a threatening bird, a magical girl and a dragon.
And my novel wasn’t working.
Rewind a year. A previous novel – contemporary women’s fiction – had been published six years earlier by a small press, and I’d struggled to write another. Writing against a backdrop of some extremely challenging life events hadn’t helped. 30,000 words were abandoned. 48,000 words: ditto.
I came across The Novelry when Louise offered one of her online novel courses for auction for the Grenfell Tower fund, something made me follow this one up.
I told Louise Dean the sorry tale of how my writing...
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