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Chapter One

May 17, 2020
 

 

The first chapter of a novel needs to do some heavy lifting to start the story. Once you realize that what needs to be done follows a fairly clear format, it makes light work of the task. 

What should you be looking to achieve in the first chapter? These are some of the things you might consider:
  • to put your reader into the world (location/setting/era)
  • to pose a question the reader wants to get an answer for (create mystery or intrigue)
  • to introduce the main character
  • to set the mood
  • to kickstart the plot development

But what's essential for a story to start in the space between you and the reader?

In the video with this blog, you'll find a clip from a lesson with Justin Cronin in which he describes the basic layout as:

  • where and when are we?
  • who are the major players?
  • what's the point of view?
  • What's the story's larger moral and cultural setting?

 

"There's nothing wrong with just flat out declaring this information at the start of a narrative. I...

Read on...

Memoir.

May 01, 2020

 

'Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction.' William Zinsser.

'Gritty professional memoirs are the hot publishing trend.' Financial Times, November 2019.

'I love all insider memoirs. It doesn’t matter whether it’s truck-drivers or doctors. I think everybody likes to go backstage, find out what people think and what they talk about and what specialised job they have.' David Mamet.

How to begin writing a memoir? What to include? What to leave out?

Typically, an author, whether they're trained as a fiction writer or non-fiction will start with a theme which might be summed up as a powerful relationship important to their lives.

For Haruki Murakami, in his memoir 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' this was the almost spiritual proximity...

Read on...

Louise Doughty on Writing Platform Seven.

Apr 19, 2020

 

As part of our online writing course outreach programme to bring brilliant writers into your homes, we are delighted to announce that the bestselling author of Apple Tree Yard, Louise Doughty, has joined The Novelry as a guest tutor offering writing classes to our members. Read more here.

In this week's blog, Louise Doughty describes the strange lure of station platforms that inspired her to write the wonderful suspense thriller, her latest book, Platform Seven, published by Faber & Faber.


Louise Doughty writes... 

I had a strange yearning the other day, an overwhelming desire to do something wild and reckless, to leave my house and travel to somewhere that seemed unbelievably enticing and exotic.  I really, really wanted to go to Peterborough Railway Station.

 I could picture myself doing it.  It’s possible to walk to Kings Cross Station from where I live.  I went down there on one of my daily exercise outings a week or so ago –...

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The Unplanned Story.

Apr 12, 2020

 

Now, if you read our blog recently on how to plan your novel, you'll be well served by knowing there's another side to the story too. Writers write in different ways at different times. We won't prescribe how you should write your novel, but we will show you all the wonderful ways to writing bliss.

So, you have a fully fleshed-out scene by scene, beat by beat, blow by blow plan for your story. The plot clock's ticking (check), we're heading to conflict (check) and a happy ending (check). The whole thing is on point.  You've planned it to the Nth degree as Iris Murdoch describes: 

‘Well, I think it is important to make a detailed plan before you write the first sentence. Some people think one should write, George woke up and knew that something terrible had happened yesterday, and then see what happens. I plan the whole thing in detail before I begin. I have a general scheme and lots of notes. Every chapter is planned. Every conversation is planned.' Iris...

Read on...

Metaphor.

Apr 05, 2020
 

 

 A Dirty Word?

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

A figure of speech in which a name or descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, that to which it is literally applicable; an instance of this, a metaphorical expression. Cf. metonymy n.simile n.

+ meta = In ancient Greek and Hellenistic Greek μετα- is combined chiefly with verbs and verbal derivatives principally to express notions of sharing, action in common, pursuit, quest, and, above all, change (of place, order, condition, or nature)

+phor = + ϕορά carrying ( < the o -grade of the stem of ϕέρειν to bear, carry)

Early use:

a1500  (c1477)  T. Norton Ordinal of Alchemy  Thei made theire bokis to many men ful derk, In poyses, parabols, & in methaphoris alle-so, which to scolers causith peyne and...

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Starting To Write A Novel.

Mar 29, 2020
 

 

On the 16th of February, I was walking my dog with a friend who is in his late Sixties. He was telling me about his grandmother. His mother was bullied by a girl when she was a child in the 1920's and her mother sent her back to school with a homemade rhyme. It went something like this: Apple pie is very nice, and so is apple pasty, but Betty Jones messed her shirt, and that was very nasty. The rhyme caught on in the playground. He went onto tell me that his grandmother was a leading light of the Band of Hope, a temperance movement quite big during her lifetime with banners on their marches touting 'Bread Not Beer'. As she was a heavy drinker, the Band of Hope was certainly apposite regarding her membership.

When I came home I googled it, and saw that the movement was started in 1847 when a 72-year-old Irish Presbyterian lady joined forces with a young Baptist minister Jabez Tunnicliffe and they decided to warn children of the dangers...

Read on...

The Second Novel & Beyond.

Mar 22, 2020

 

With book sales reportedly on the up, (+17% last week) and possibly more time on your hands this is the time to be writing your first, second or third novel.

At The Novelry we are offering support to those self-isolating with discounts on our flagship courses. If you have a novel-in-waiting, this is your moment. 

For authors whose 'other' livelihoods have been affected by the current Coronavirus crisis there is a special contingency fund available via The Society of Authors.

For authors who have published a novel, it's probably time to get back on the horse. We're here to help. 

We have all heard of the 'enfant terrible' of the second novel.

The much-feared 'Second Novel Syndrome' bodes not so much a happy ending as a marked drop in sales leading down the garden path to the midden of the mid-career sag. (See this blog for details.) One is supposed to anticipate much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the author's kitchen as indifferent, scant reviews...

Read on...

The Firestarter 2020

Mar 15, 2020
 

 

Thank you all for taking part.

We have had some trailblazing first chapter entries to this year’s competition. Thanks to all of you who entered and those who voted. 

The month of February is set aside annually to focus on feedback with The Firestarter and our writers have been sharing their work with each other at our online workshop and benefitting from the constructive critique and fond feedback that makes The Novelry such a special place.

The Firestarter is the most unusual of competitions for writers. One in which, genuinely, every entrant gains thanks to the feedback from wise reader-writers worldwide. What's more, it's the only truly democratically-awarded writing prize. All members get one vote, and they vote for the work they rate most highly.

It's interesting to see the votes come in and cluster around frontrunners early proving that, regardless of your taste in reading and genre-preference, there is such a thing as 'good writing' which...

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MA Creative Writing

Mar 08, 2020

The Novelry MA Creative Writing Scholarship.

The University of East Anglia UEA and The Novelry are delighted to announce The Novelry MA Creative Writing Scholarship worth £16,500 to cover fees and living expenses for a writer resident in the UK to enjoy a whole year writing their novel.

We want to offer 'a year of one's own' to a writer who otherwise might never find the time, space, and support, to get to work on their novel.

Our scholar will have the support of the UEA Faculty of Creative Writing in East Anglia and The Novelry including mentoring throughout the year from prize-winning author Louise Dean and post-MA support to finish the novel to publishing standard and secure literary agent representation.

This is one of the most meaningful scholarships, bursaries or grants for a writer in the UK. The scholarship will be awarded to the candidate who demonstrates and shows the potential for creative excellence in long-form fiction. It is available to UK...

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The Driving Force of the Genre

Mar 01, 2020

Genre is important. Start here, if you will. As I mentioned in our blog 'Get Published', and as we cover in our online creative writing courses, its the first thing an agent assesses on your submissions letter as they start to consider whether to read on and which editor to call for lunch. They'll be looking to check you've used the right ingredients for the genre.

Genres can be individually defined by the particular nature of the key driving force behind your story.

Each genre has its own secret agent of story, and that's how genres can be defined. Make sure you've got the right secret one in the driving seat of your moving vehicle! shall we peel back the disguise? It might be that the commonly held 'drivers' of genre are in fact wearing a mask. (My writers know how much I like a paradox for all its springy and deceitful energy, and you'll find some below.)

Let's take a look behind the scenes of genre by examining the range via the hero books we recommend to our novelists...

Read on...
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