Plumbers take apprenticeships. So why do writers imagine they can learn their craft without taking one? That's effectively what we offer writers when you join The Novelry, a working, practical apprenticeship to your mentor the author Louise Dean. You learn on the job.
Serious writers study the works of the great fiction writers, the way painters copy the old masters. Part of our method at The Novelry is to encourage working novelists to read and re-read a 'hero book' during the course of writing their first draft. First for the story, then for the technique and to abide with this one book during the writing of a first draft as a training frame. The act of faith, abiding with it, is good discipline in itself for sticking with the novel, but when you read a masterful novel, it reveals itself to you in layers which you will only perceive after many readings.
This week's blog post comes from our member, Viv Rich, who inspired by our...
This week's Member's Story comes from Walter Smith from Alabama.
'Props' to him - a new word he has taught me. See story for details...
There is a silver bowl in a box around here somewhere that I received in eighth grade for winning a fiction award. I keep it in case I become strapped for funds and need to melt it, though I suspect it may be silver-plated, not sterling. The award bore the name of a writer named Conrad Richter, and the presenters were thoughtful enough to include a copy of one of his books inscribed by his daughter offering best wishes and prosperity, the usual pap. To be truthful, I thought little of the book. It involved American Indians and frontiersmen as I recall, something they erroneously thought might intrigue a pubescent male. Sort of Hawthorne-lite, but lacking wonderful names like Natty Bumppo and the imprimatur of countless freshman English syllabi.
One story published in a regional magazine. It told the inspirational tale of my...
The value of revision becomes manifestly abundant over the course of our very intense weeks on retreat at The Novelry, with writers taking prose through rounds of work towards a shining, tight truth by the end of our time together.
At the Full English course, I began the week with a lesson on 'Glamour' - and how what is concealed up front in your novel will of necessity be revealed. We begin our story by showing that to all appearances all's well but the veneer conceals a lie. It's the nature of THE LIE which is at the heart of your story, and it's the chipping away at it, the revelatory process which drives the plot. If you're a writer in search of an idea, start with a big lie.
We looked at how with The Great Gatsby it was Scott Fitzgerald's intention from the start to establish a veneer of glamour in his prose and story. He had his eyes on the big lie - the American Dream - which he foresaw as doomed.
I told my writers how Hunter S...
We are delighted to announce that The Novelry has won 2 of the 7 categories for Best Online Creative Writing Courses as judged by the formidable John Fox aka The Book Fox.
Winner - Best Course for Writing Your Novel
Winner - Best Course for Editing Your Novel
"I’ve gone through all 100 video lessons and loved it — and you can get extra personalized feedback from Louise Dean herself (both over Skype and through written feedback)." John Fox.
Join us and achieve your writing ambitions! Take a look at our online creative writing courses.
This week's story comes from Bec Davidson who joined us this month to write her novel at last.
A decade ago, a dark cloak of loneliness settled over me with an effortless familiarity. I was adjusting to a new life living as an expatriate in Hong Kong. My unwanted solitude became an ‘enabler’ to my long-standing reading addiction. Closeness to the equator meant short days and long nights. My darkened hours became punctuated with Austen, McGregor, Fitzgerald, Ballard, Orwell, Huxley, Greene and many more of the literary greats. The characters became my friends and I became immersed in my new companions’ lives.
I read until the starlight faded, and the first smudges of light darted through my bedroom window. Only in the singular beat, before the milky dawn eclipsed the neon-lighted sky, would sleep pull me away.
Gruelling rounds of infertility treatment led me down a depressive pathway. A sadness quickly planted...
I love a good edit. I love how close that word is to tidy.
Here's how my novel seems to me to be after the first draft.
Here's how I like to think of my manuscript after The Big Edit at second draft:
The second draft is light years ahead of the first - it is organized as a story.
The story has drama! Light and shade. A villain with a purpose and a stumbling heroine or hero. A theme - as in something I am going to damn well prove to be true. This should be there at first draft, and it was, but it was crummy. Now it's looking like I mean business. The layering of rewriting fattens the chapters and their content should hit the reader with impact, images and ideas, forthright pronouncements, deceit, conflict, lies, desires are regulated in the second draft to propel the heroine towards facing her mortal condition, and working out how to use the time she has here on this earth.
Thanks to a dose of Sophocles' Theban Plays and...
On Monday morning, I asked Siri what the weather was like. Minus Four, Siri told me.
Waving bye-bye to Wifi I went off into the woods to sit in a shed down the track from my mother's house. The heater required assembly. Communicating between woollen-hatted brows and muffled chins, fumbling with our fingerless gloves on, mother and I failed. I plugged it in anyway, it tried its best but it was a poor excuse for a heater.
My little dog admired the ice on the inside of the windows, enjoyed a tryst with an old pair of shoes my mother had thoughtfully left for him, then curled up in an old wicker armchair, nose in tail.
It's a remote and secluded place, no traffic noise at all. My mother doesn't have the internet and her house is at a little distance. She left me the bell she used as a child to tell her father to come in from the nursery gardens for his tea. I was to ring it if I needed her. We were both rather excited about the whole...
Get a shot in your writer's arm when you follow us on Instagram @thenovelry. Here's a selection of this week's top tips which might help you create your novel outline.
Our novelists are writing across most genres - Literary, sci-fi, speculative, thrillers, historical, romance, comedy, for adults, young adults and children's - so a writer will quickly find a like-minded author to reach out to for company on their big write.
I've invited some of our writers to share the story so far; what's compelling them to write...
Get working on that first chapter to clinch the top spot in our annual competition The Firestarter which recognizes the potential of a novel from the outset.
The winning entry will be submitted to our literary agent partners along with the entire manuscript, if ready. There is a prize of £150 for use at The Novelry for any course or retreat.
The prize is open to all members subscribed by 1st February 2019 (you can subscribe for just £14.99 a month here) and the winner is selected by first past the post voting of all members.
The deadline and closing date for submissions and posting of entries is 1st March at midnight.
All members will be asked to vote by email before midnight 8th March. The winner will be announced in the Sunday blog to follow on 10th March.
Write, revise, rewrite. Rinse and repeat!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the opening pages of a novel...
'Your voice. Yes, find it. Don't ask me how. It's a discovery that's as mysterious as it sounds, but at some point you will suddenly realize that you are channelling an authentic part of you. And that's it. Magic.'
Step 1: Forget about it.
The default option for all writers is to disappear from your work entirely.
'Invisibility is a superpower.' Banksy.
This is a good place to start. It’s the only place to start. If you start with what you think is a voice, you're bound to make the mistake of being 'quirky' along with 99% of writers. Just check those Twitter profiles. It's a mistake we can all make. We all want to be 'different'. But that 'quirky' voice may well be derivative (favourite book, last book you read) and if it’s a faker's voice, you will alienate half your readers (and half the agents.) You can't afford to do that.
So start by going for prose like a window pane, as George Orwell put it.
If you do not progress from step...