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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Ready to Write? Asks Rachel Edwards. Jul 25, 2021

From the Desk of Rachel Edwards.

I am between novels. This was to be an open-ended rest, but it has already become a pregnant pause. Despite myself, I have begun gestating: ripening with seeded notions; pulsing with poetry and plot; hoping to nourish a cluster of characters with vital, fluid ideas; contemplating the long labour ahead to deliver what so many call a ‘book baby’.

My second novel, Lucky, has just come out, on 24th June 2021. A moment’s elation, then a feeling of being spent. I am lighter, unburdened.

Then again, drop writing fiction for too long and I might feel untethered. As I hold the hardback reality of my book in my hands, I already glimpse another hovering, a shadow on the periphery of my imagination. ‘Too soon?’ 

You tell me.

With my debut, Darling, I flung myself headlong into writing it after my characters started to whisper, then, in the run-up to the EU Referendum, to shout. Their haranguing was enough of a catalyst to...

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The Closed Circle Mystery by Lucy Foley Jul 18, 2021

The closed circle is a beloved sub-genre of mystery, suspense and thriller fiction.

It refers to a crime, usually a murder, for which there are a limited number of suspects, each with credible means, motive, and opportunity.  The criminal (murderer) is one of the people present at or nearby the scene, and the crime could not have been committed by some outsider. The detective has to solve the crime, figuring out the criminal from this pool (circle) of suspects, rather than searching for a totally unknown perpetrator.

From the Desk of Lucy Foley.

My favourite Agatha Christie novel – and possibly my favourite murder mystery of all time – is And Then There Were None. There’s the tight plotting, the wonderfully awful cast of love-to-hate characters, the sheer astonishing brilliance of the reveal. But first and foremost for me is the closed circle setting. The island is a menacing, deadly presence from the outset. It’s that idea of the...

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Meet Mahsuda Snaith Jul 11, 2021

 

Can you remember the feelings of first love? The giddy excitement, the blissful sigh of your body as the whole world became covered in a honey-tinted glow? That’s what it felt like for me with my first love; story.

I had a solitary childhood. The only Asian family on a predominately white council estate, my mother rarely allowed anyone over or let us out to see friends. Growing up, what kept me company were stories. The ones read to me at the end of the school day, the TV shows and films I watched when I got home and the books I borrowed from libraries and devoured in my room, their words filling my mind full of vibrant worlds that felt as real as the walls around me. Stories have helped me get through the hardest of times, they have been there for me when I needed them most but, more than anything, they have shown me there is always another way. As soon I was able to, I was making up and writing my own stories so when I discovered there were people who could make...

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Imposter Syndrome, Writers? Jul 04, 2021

From the Desk of Polly Ho-Yen

The term “imposter syndrome” was first coined by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in their landmark 1978 study of 150 highly successful professional women in various fields. Susan Pinker, author of The Sexual Paradox: Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference Between the Sexes, describes Clance and Imes's findings as follows:

“Despite accolades, rank, and salary, these women felt like phonies. They didn’t believe in their own accomplishments; they felt they were scamming everyone about their skills.”

Sound familiar?  

You would not be alone; according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, an estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives. Impostor syndrome is seen to affect both genders and all kinds of people from every part of life. Perhaps it’s not, in fact, a useful term and helps to mask...

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How To Introduce a Character in a Novel Jun 27, 2021

Lately I have become obsessed with how we first meet our favourite characters in books. Whether they’re honourable, ethical good guys, or down-and-out criminals with a wicked streak, how we’re first introduced to our hero’s character flaw will define the shape of the story. Whether the novel will arc upwards as their situation improves, or downwards in a dramatic fall from grace. 

A flawed character is an interesting character. They have somewhere to go.

Some common character flaws include:

  • Being vain
  • Conceited
  • Narcissistic
  • Lustful
  • Libidinous
  • Predatory
  • Proud
  • Deluded
  • Boastful
  • Angry
  • Rash
  • Vengeful

 Your character might be more on the pathetic side of flawed:

  • Miserable
  • Helpless
  • Isolative
  • Slothful
  • Apathetic
  • Small-minded
  • Indifferent

 Choosing and revealing your character’s flaw is, I think, one of the hardest parts of writing a novel. It’s also the most open to misinterpretation.

In early drafts we often create deeply...

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How to Keep Writing Your Novel. Jun 20, 2021

May You Always Be A Beginner.

  • Write with innocence, wide-eyed about the vagaries of humanity and a willingness to be surprised at how low or high humans can go.
  • Write with hope, that your tale will bring a smile to even one person, take another to a location they will never visit in real life, cause an individual to reflect on the human condition or guide someone on a thrilling adventure that happens in the safety of their minds/imagination.
  • Write with generosity, with a heart so big that you’re willing to share your dreams and crazy ideas with someone else through words.
  • Write with love, for people, life, love and everything that lies within and between.
  • Write with an open heart, willing to listen to feedback that only gets you back on the computer, not down in the pits of despair.
  • Write your truth. Always. That’s where authenticity comes from, that elusive quality called ‘voice’ but is really industry parlance for ‘to...
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Advice For Writers. Jun 13, 2021

From the Desk of Kathy Lette.

Hello All, 

As many of you writers at The Novelry will know, the best thing about being a writer is that you get to work in your PJs all day, drink heavily on the job and have affairs and call it “research”.

But I principally became an author as it involves no heavy lifting. Except for those writers who lift whole sections of other people’s work and then call it their own. But hey, you can’t have all work and no plagiarism, right?

But if you really want to be a writer, your most important assignment is to think of a witty epitaph. Spike Milligan’s was: ‘I told you I was sick.’ I think mine will be: ‘Finally – a good plot.’

I’ve been writing novels since my teens, so have been lucky enough to rub shoulder pads with many of the world’s most inspiring authors. I’ve done the limbo with Salman Rushdie, waltzed with Julian Barnes and tango-ed with Clive James. I’ve...

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Writing a Fantasy Series. Jun 06, 2021

Bestselling Fantasy Author Tricia Levenseller explains:

  1. Start with a hero or heroine (make them a fierce badass  i.e. a girl monster slayer)
  2. Pick your sub-genre (i.e. high fantasy, urban fantasy, dystopian, sword and sorcery, dark fantasy...)
  3. Forget about what the market wants and write for you
  4. Have your cake and eat it; combine the things you love your way
  5. Build a world that works for your combo
  6. Drive the plot according to your main character's overt and covert wants and needs
  7. Add the familiar fantasy element or trope - literally pick a preference: (i.e the chosen one, the dark lord, talking animals, the mentor, medieval magic (unicorns, elves etc.)
  8. Divide the quest, story or quite literally the map of the world into parts

When I decided to try writing a book for the first time, I’d been given this horrible piece of advice: write what you know. I was seventeen years old. I didn’t know what I was doing, only that I had a love of books and reading. For a...

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I Write Because... Adele Parks May 30, 2021
  • Life is complex and I am always trying to make sense of it.
  • I like to entertain, be useful and have a role.
  • I think I like being the centre of attention.
  • I also hate being the centre of attention.
  • I’m not great at acknowledging pain in real life but I find I’m excellent at acknowledging it on the page.
  • Writers are interesting.
  • Reading is empowering.
  • I have a hunger to be known and understood.
  • I have a desire to make connections and feel less alone.
  • I cannot not.

I’ve found writing is best if:

  • I don’t think about my mother reading what I have written.
  • I don’t think about prizes, chart positions or reviews.
  • I do think about being honest.
  • I redraft and edit as I go along.
  • I am disciplined and write regularly, by which I mean every day.
  • I risk being unpopular, so I don’t chase a tide of popularity in terms of genre.
  • I don’t copy other authors’ styles.
  • I challenge myself.
  • I doubt myself.
  • I believe in myself.

I’ve managed to write...

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Mike Gayle and All The Lonely People. May 23, 2021

From the Desk of Mike Gayle.

It used to be the case that whenever anyone asked me about the research I’d undertaken during the course of writing one of my novels I’d say something debonair like, ‘My life is my research!’ I’d raise an eyebrow as if to make it clear what an incredibly interesting person I was, constantly having adventures and living life to the full. The truth of the matter however is that I’m actually quite boring really, and even worse I prefer it that way. I like my drama to exist only inside the pages of the books I write. Real-life drama isn’t really my thing, at least if I can help it.

I’m telling you this as a preamble to what I’m going to say next which in short is this: All The Lonely People took a lot of research. When I first came up with the idea for this story one of the things I knew I wanted to explore was a long life lived from beginning to end. In the past I’ve tended to write stories about...

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