The Novel Writing Blog.

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You will find advice here to help you on your writing journey. Use the search bar or browse through the categories to get a taste of the kind of insights and shortcuts we use to fast track our writers. 

Novel Writing Tips The Hero Three Wise Drafts Perspective Don't Try So Hard! How To Begin One Hour A Day Admit Your Ambition

Superheroes of The Novelry.

Jan 20, 2019

Ten Second Tips From Writer Superheroes.

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.

  1. Your story (courtesy of Tolstoy) "All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”
  2. Your plot (thanks to Epictetus)  "Difficulties are things that show a person what they are."
  3. Your material (cheers Miranda July!) "There's no law against asking strangers about their lives and feelings, although sometimes it really feels like there is."

Members' Stories.

In January, our regular intake of writers is boosted by novelists who have decided that this will be their year. They're welcomed by our members at our online forum and our closed group online, and gradually they take off their gloves and balaclavas when they figure out it's warm inside at The Novelry.

Our novelists are writing...

Read on...

Our Competition - The Firestarter 2019.

Jan 13, 2019

Time to add some heat to your writing.

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...

Read on...

Five Steps to Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Jan 06, 2019


'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.'

Kate Atkinson.

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...

Read on...

The Novelry Annual 2018

Dec 26, 2018

A huge thank you to all of our wonderful members for a fabulous writing year in 2018.

We have laughed, we have whinged, we have celebrated. We have been there for each other. (Enjoy the candid camera outtake from the trip to Oxford above!)

We have cheered each other over the finishing line and witnessed at first hand the hard work, commitment and sense of humour required to write a good novel. Wishing you all an exciting 2019 and - of course - a happy new novel! We will be in full swing from the beginning of January with a new intake of members ready to write their novels and get on the road to literary glory!

We always give new members the warmest of welcomes, so if you're serious about making 2019 the year you raise your writing game and complete a novel to the highest standard, come and join us. Find the course that's just right for you here.

You can book a free 15-minute session to talk to me, Louise Dean,  about your writing here. I will be all ears, and...

Read on...

The Writer's Solstice

Dec 21, 2018

Members News.

One of our wonderful members, Susie Nott-Bower found out yesterday that she has been longlisted for the Bath Children's Novel Award!

Susie took our children's book course - The Classic Course - in Spring and wrote her first children's novel with us, and some were lucky enough to hear her read from it on our Sunday night live team chat last week. Her reading was met with unanimous delight and praise.

This is so well-deserved.

Says Susie, "I'm so thrilled, and just want to say an enormous thank you, because if it hadn't been for the Classics Course, it would never have been written. I really appreciate your support and all the inspiration that The Novelry has given me."

What did Susie do?

She took the course, she committed herself to writing the novel in a season, she drew upon the support of her fellow writers and shared her work for feedback to improve it. She worked hard and used all the resources available to her.

Here's to you, Susie! Merry Christmas.


Read on...

The Reality of Writing Fiction.

Dec 16, 2018

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.” James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room.

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,...

Read on...

Top 10 Writing Apps For Novel Writers 2019

Dec 09, 2018


#1 Scrivener.

It had to be you. Over 800,000 users love it too. 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. 

Our members can enjoy a 20% discount on Scrivener at our Members' Library. (One of the many discounts available which make membership well worth having!)

#2. ProWritingAid

Use ProWritingAid to polish your prose. It will keep an eye on clichés and make sure your sentences are short and snappy. That's important. It will pluck out passive writing and score your writing for readability showing you where you can...

Read on...

Why You Should Start at the Middle of your Novel.

Dec 02, 2018

If you're about to write a novel, start with the midpoint. That's the place to begin to build your world around.

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...

Read on...

The End of The Year

Nov 25, 2018

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:

  1. Finish first draft by Christmas 
  2. Let that novel lie a month
  3. Edit that novel in a month from the last week of January
  4. Using the Editing Your Novel course prepare a submissions package  of first three chapters and synopsis
  5. Enter the first chapter into our annual Firestarter Competition closing date March 1st

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...

Read on...

Tim Lott Joins The Novelry.

Nov 18, 2018

The Novelry is delighted to announce that Tim Lott is joining us as a member and guest tutor in 2019. 

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...

Read on...


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Happy Writing.

The Novelry.