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,...
Put these writing tools on your Christmas list and get ready to make a clean start in the New Year.
It had to be you. We have tried them all. Ulysses, Novelr, and more and we are unanimous that if you're tackling a big project, the organizational engine of Scrivener will ensure everything goes off to plan. Who uses Scrivener? Authors, journalists, copywriters, lawyers, novelists, screenwriters, students, translators... If you're tackling a major document, go for it. Scrivener for iOS won both Productivity App of the Year and the over all UK App of the Year at the UK App Awards 2017. Scrivener 3.1.1 has just launched (November 2018) and the list up updates and additions is very long and comprehensive. In truth, Scrivener works best for Mac. The Windows version is less virtuous but still worth getting.
Our members can enjoy a 20% discount on Scrivener at our Members' Library. (One of the many discounts available...
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...
Hurry, little ones...
As the end of the year approaches our writers are making haste to down tools on Christmas Day. We will be running a word count in December keeping track of our progress.
I have made a list and been checking it twice. The scores on the doors on Monday were taken for 31 writers who are aiming to finish up a first draft by Christmas. Members can view the tally here.
The plan for our writers is as follows:
The winners are voted by our members with each member getting one vote.
The entries with most votes and merit will be presented, with the agreement of their authors, to our literary agency friends providing the author has a...
Tim's first novel, White City Blue (1999), a vivid and comic contemporary portrait of a group of young male friends, won the Whitbread First Novel Award. He has written 9 novels (listed below) in commercial, literary and Young Adult genres.
The Novelry's Classic Course generates YA fiction ideas and story planning, so I have been seeking an accomplished YA tutor/mentor to introduce to The Novelry as a member and tutor to advance the careers of my YA writers. But the prowess of Mr Lott as a writer's writer, a plot guru, described by John Yorke as 'one of the few novelists who truly understands the demands of story structure' will be a boon to The Novelry's stable of published and aspiring novelists.
As a person, Tim is droll; a dry wit, warm and encouraging. He's given me some pithy advice in the past. I'd not hesitate to seek his opinion on my work - and...
The writers gathered, windswept and willing, in the vale of Marshwood on Tuesday afternoon last week.
We'd come past Stonehenge, down through valleys with breathtaking views, hilltops with clusters of Autumn-clad trees.
We were met with a warm welcome from the hostess, the Lady of Marshwood Manor, Romla Ryan. She showed us to the luxurious cottages with standalone baths, plushly-laundered beds and kitchens stocked with fresh milk, ground coffee and cafetieres. What more could a weary writer need?
I sat down on the sofa in my recessed sitting room, and looked out at an ancient oak tree from my cottage across the fields and thought - wow, this is quiet. Not a sound. No road noise.
'People say - we came the wrong way,' said Romla, 'but I say - no, there's only one road. It's just rural.'
As dark fell, writers gathered for tea and homemade cake and began telling each other the story of their novels. They discussed their plans for the sacred week. A chance to regroup,...
I have made a discovery in the last few weeks.
Creativity can be unleashed by structure. I remember from my days of advertising how awful the creative work was if the brief wasn't tight. I've broken stride in writing my new novel to perform a stringent edit on it, and I think there's something to be said for this method.
So, if you are on first draft, and feeling concerned about it, then this hybrid method which combines writing forwards and editorial 'retrospective' planning might work for you.
It might help you, as it has me, to stop loafing around on the outside of your novel, and get inside it.
For my method you will need:
- about 10k minimum words of material; love it or hate it, it's not important.
- title, hook, and synopsis for your book revised in the last few days. Phase Two of the Editing Your Novel course has you work through the beautiful logic of these to nail them. I'm going to assume you have followed the course and created a...
Hanif Kureishi famously dismissed the teaching of creative writing, saying that writing a story is:
'a difficult thing to do and it's a great skill to have. Can you teach that? I don't think you can.'
(According to Philip Hensher, Kureishi teaches creative writing at Kingston University, 'ineffectually')
We all learn to write. If you're serious about something, generally you will want to learn how to do it well. I wonder why some writersfeel they need to look down on aspiring writers once they have been published and claim writing is some 'mystical gift'. It's not; it's a skilled craft. It's one you need to keep learning; you never reach a golden plateau.
Serious writers have always sought and will always seek teachers long before their work gets to an editor's desk.
In defence of teaching creative writing, Kurt Vonnegut said:
‘A tough guy, I forget which one, is asked to speak to a creative writing class....
The idea for your novel doesn't often come to you whole and complete. If you're writing historical fiction then it may do, as mine did for This Human Season which is set in Northern Ireland in 1980 and 1981. That came to me on the platform of Clapham North tube station in 2003. I watched a few trains come and go as it dawned on me. But my other three novels came to life in stages.
Usually, the final novel is the result of an idea that has grown and acquired more substance like the proverbial rolling stone.
It seems to me though that there are elements to the idea which remain in place through the multiple drafts you will write. The details shift and change as you feel for what's most moving, most provoking, most important. A novel is a long struggle and it's good, necessary even, to get a first draft down in a season as we do in The Ninety Day Novel course. But you will return to it at second draft and amend it as new realities and truths...
'There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately
, no one knows what they are.'
You will find tools at The Novelry. Use them, try them, pick them up, put them down. Do not consider them rules. I can't abide rules, and I guess you can't or you probably wouldn't be writing.
There is no formula. Did you know that some writers' books can stay unborn, in their amniotic sac of rules and regulations, attached to the umbilical spreadsheet for years? It's an awful condition and one we can't abide at The Novelry where we get novels done.
'I don’t think there are any universal rules. I really don’t. We each make our own rules, and we stick to our rules and we abide by them, but you know rules are made to be broken. … [If] any rule you hear from one writer doesn’t work for you, disregard it completely. Break it. Do what you want to do. I have my own rules that I follow, but...
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