The Novel Writing Blog.

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Writing a Novel - The Complete Collection of Free Advice.

Dec 22, 2019
 
 

In the coming weeks at the Sunday blog, we will be getting you all set to take it from the top and start writing your new novel in 2020. 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!

 
 
 
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Retreat!

Dec 15, 2019

 

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...

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How To Write A Children's Book and Get It Published.

Dec 08, 2019

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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The Best Writers Software and Writing Apps for 2020

Dec 01, 2019
 

 

Get Tooled Up, Writers.

You'll find some old faithfuls and some new entries to our list - the tools I use when I'm writing and those most loved by our writers at The Novelry.

It's a better time to be a writer than ever before thanks to technology. (I know, I know, proper writers are supposed to be Luddites, but why? Make your life easier. Writing a novel's tough enough.)

#1. Scrivener

If you're tackling a big project like a novel, the organizational engine of Scrivener will ensure everything goes off to plan. Our members can enjoy a 20% discount on Scrivener at our Members' Library.

#2. ProWritingAid

The app analyzes your writing and presents its findings in over 20 different reports (more than any other editing software). You can keep track of your writing style with a neat integration of ProWritingAid and Scrivener. ProWritingAid imports your Scrivener folder into its platform and gives you a detailed analysis of how you're...

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Artifice - How to Write a Damn Good Novel.

Nov 24, 2019

One of the sweetest old chestnuts beloved of writers is the notion that a story is driven by what a character wants. Quite so.

It's a convention, it's a construction and it's a fakery of the highest order, yet we must have it so.

In real life, people are not propelled by singular obsessions, they are in fact a mess of conflicting wants, warring desires and to-do lists. This does not make for a great story. The ruse of a story is that the heroine or hero has a one-track mind. Those of you enjoying the BBC TV series 'Gold Digger' may not have stopped to consider how likely it is that a professional man in his late thirties with a family is obsessed with his mother's new boyfriend being a tad on the young side? Sure, in real life, he'd raise an eyebrow then get back to his in-box. But then there would be no story.

An entertainment requires some stage machinery that's about as sophisticated as a canon that fires one canon ball. We entertainers pull a fast one on the...

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Orwell's Writing Style - Part Two.

Nov 17, 2019

The second of a two-part special blog on Orwell's own development as a writer to greatness. (Continued from this blog.)

I believe that novels happen in major leaps, via fits of destructiveness as much as creativity. What's more, an author's creative output is not a steady and static production line. Many writers find their voice, nail their theme, hit the sweet spot of storytelling art, inventiveness and lucidity in their later years.

So, how did Orwell make the leap from The Clergyman's Daughter to works like Animal Farm and 1984, from more conventional middle-of-the-road writing, small themes and safe prose to the stark, and bolder books of his last years? To 'prose like a windowpane'?

‘What I have most wanted to do… is to make political writing into an art’ George Orwell.

He wasn't quite there in 1939 after Coming Up For Air. So what happened to Orwell's writing in the years before Animal Farm written at the end of the war?

"If I had to make...

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Orwell Writing Style - Part One

Nov 10, 2019

The first of a two-part special on Orwell's own development as a writer to greatness.

How did Orwell make the leap from The Clergyman's Daughter to works like Animal Farm and 1984, from more conventional middle-of-the-road writing, small themes and safe prose to the stark, and bolder books of his last years? To 'prose like a windowpane'?

Write the book only you can write, the book you're meant to write, I counsel writers on our novel writing courses, but how do you locate the book you can write freely and truly and honestly with cleanliness? Let me show you how Orwell, the author of that phrase, found his way.

Eric Arthur Blair was born 25 June 1903 (and died at just 47 21 January 1950 - which gives this ageing writer pause for thought.)

“I had the lonely child's habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a...

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The Winner of The First Line Fiesta

Nov 03, 2019
 

 Viva La Fiesta!

We had 75 entries from our member writers to the First Line Fiesta, our competition to find the most appealing first line of a novel in progress. (Read some of the most famous first lines of all time).

The standard was very high with high-scoring entries mostly from our writers either now with agents or on second drafts, taking The Big Edit, poised on the brink of bagging agents and publishing contracts. But we had one or two surprises from our first drafters!

Voting has been one member, one vote, and a first past the post system. Given the range of lines and the quality of the prose, I was surprised to see clustered results around a few front runners.

A contest like this is a bit of a beauty parade. The lines that stand out most boldly will secure votes. And the contestants don't have the opportunity to impress their judges with their plans for world peace as with our Firestarter Competition in February for the best first chapter.

But a great first line...

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How Do I Know If My Fiction Writing is Good?

Oct 27, 2019

How do you tell if your writing is sweet, or whether it sucks?

 

We get word-blind. Over the course of a couple of drafts, the word blindness can get worse. You're clinging to your darlings, but the story's changed, and they're possibly no longer on point. (Our enforced reading break in between drafts, and the astringent Editing course are the citrus you need in your writing diet, but even so, it takes a lot of bad parenting to know how to treat your beloved manuscript roughly for its own good.)

WhenI read a writer's work, I evaluate it very simply. Here's how:

Cross Mark on Apple iOS 13.1 1. There is nothing wrong with it. It looks clean and good. There are no typos, and the grammar is right. (Don't ever hit send to anyone before using Grammarly.) It's not backstory-heavy. It's not blighted with how he or she 'feels'. Each paragraph leads to the next and inevitably so.

Warning on Apple iOS 13.1 2. It feels real. The characters are reasonably credible, feel true to life, and are not complete...

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Finding a Literary Agent. A Writer's Journey.

Oct 20, 2019

A Member's Story.

From the desk of Cate Guthleben.

The Bio.
 
I was born in Broken Hill - a mining town in outback New South Wales now most famous for being where Guy Pearce gets beaten up in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I went to primary school in Canberra and Perth before my family settled in Adelaide when I was 10. I got a typewriter for my 10th birthday because I wanted to be a writer, and I have been trying to write ever since. 
 
I studied Law and English Literature at Adelaide University. On graduating I was a Tutor in Constitutional Law for 2 years then practised as a Commercial Litigation lawyer. I met my husband at Uni and his law career took us to Sydney, where I lectured at UTS Law School and our daughter was born. Then we moved to Hong Kong where I taught Plain English to Chinese executives and our son was born. After five years in HK, we moved to London where we still live. By now completely sick of reinventing myself I abandoned my...
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The Novelry.