The Novelry Blog

Where the writers are.

The Unplanned Story. Apr 12, 2020

 

Now, if you read our blog recently on how to plan your novel, you'll be well served by knowing there's another side to the story too. Writers write in different ways at different times. We won't prescribe how you should write your novel, but we will show you all the wonderful ways to writing bliss.

So, you have a fully fleshed-out scene by scene, beat by beat, blow by blow plan for your story. The plot clock's ticking (check), we're heading to conflict (check) and a happy ending (check). The whole thing is on point.  You've planned it to the Nth degree as Iris Murdoch describes: 

‘Well, I think it is important to make a detailed plan before you write the first sentence. Some people think one should write, George woke up and knew that something terrible had happened yesterday, and then see what happens. I plan the whole thing in detail before I begin. I have a general scheme and lots of notes. Every chapter is planned. Every conversation is planned.' Iris...

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Metaphor. Apr 05, 2020

 

 A Dirty Word?

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

A figure of speech in which a name or descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, that to which it is literally applicable; an instance of this, a metaphorical expression. Cf. metonymy n.simile n.

+ meta = In ancient Greek and Hellenistic Greek μετα- is combined chiefly with verbs and verbal derivatives principally to express notions of sharing, action in common, pursuit, quest, and, above all, change (of place, order, condition, or nature)

+phor = + ϕορά carrying ( < the o -grade of the stem of ϕέρειν to bear, carry)

Early use:

a1500  (c1477)  T. Norton Ordinal of Alchemy  Thei made theire bokis to many men ful derk, In poyses, parabols, & in methaphoris alle-so, which to scolers causith peyne and...

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Starting To Write A Novel. Mar 29, 2020

 

On the 16th of February, I was walking my dog with a friend who is in his late Sixties. He was telling me about his grandmother. His mother was bullied by a girl when she was a child in the 1920's and her mother sent her back to school with a homemade rhyme. It went something like this: Apple pie is very nice, and so is apple pasty, but Betty Jones messed her shirt, and that was very nasty. The rhyme caught on in the playground. He went onto tell me that his grandmother was a leading light of the Band of Hope, a temperance movement quite big during her lifetime with banners on their marches touting 'Bread Not Beer'. As she was a heavy drinker, the Band of Hope was certainly apposite regarding her membership.

When I came home I googled it, and saw that the movement was started in 1847 when a 72-year-old Irish Presbyterian lady joined forces with a young Baptist minister Jabez Tunnicliffe and they decided to warn children of the dangers...

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The Second Novel & Beyond. Mar 22, 2020

 

 

We have all heard of the 'enfant terrible' of the second novel.

The much-feared 'Second Novel Syndrome' bodes not so much a happy ending as a marked drop in sales leading down the garden path to the midden of the mid-career sag. (See this blog for details.) One is supposed to anticipate much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the author's kitchen as indifferent, scant reviews come in followed by poor sales. A far cry from the heady days of 'the debut of the year.'

Why?

Simple.

You never stop learning until you stop learning.

The heady praise of the debut can lead an author to think they're a natural-born killer when it comes to novels. They've got a gift. Talent! Innate!

It is not so.

I don't believe in 'talent'. I do believe in staying power, reading, love of the craft, humility, mischief, discipline and routine.

With your first novel, you were obliged as an unknown to pull out all the stops. Every pretty rejection sent you revising. You got feedback from...

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The Firestarter 2020 Mar 15, 2020

 

Thank you all for taking part.

We have had some trailblazing first chapter entries to this year’s competition. Thanks to all of you who entered and those who voted. 

The month of February is set aside annually to focus on feedback with The Firestarter and our writers have been sharing their work with each other at our online workshop and benefitting from the constructive critique and fond feedback that makes The Novelry such a special place.

The Firestarter is the most unusual of competitions for writers. One in which, genuinely, every entrant gains thanks to the feedback from wise reader-writers worldwide. What's more, it's the only truly democratically-awarded writing prize. All members get one vote, and they vote for the work they rate most highly.

It's interesting to see the votes come in and cluster around frontrunners early proving that, regardless of your taste in reading and genre-preference, there is such a thing as 'good writing' which...

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MA Creative Writing Mar 08, 2020

The Novelry MA Creative Writing Scholarship.

The University of East Anglia UEA and The Novelry are delighted to announce The Novelry MA Creative Writing Scholarship.

We want to offer 'a year of one's own' to a writer who otherwise might never find the time, space, and support, to get to work on their novel.

Our scholar will have the support of the UEA Faculty of Creative Writing in East Anglia and The Novelry including mentoring throughout the year from prize-winning author Louise Dean and post-MA support to finish the novel to publishing standard and secure literary agent representation.

This is one of the most meaningful scholarships, bursaries or grants for a writer in the UK. The scholarship will be awarded to the candidate who demonstrates and shows the potential for creative excellence in long-form fiction. It is available to UK residents, and open to members and non-members of The Novelry.

The equivalent of an MA, and certified, is our Book in a Year Plan....

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The Driving Force of the Genre Mar 01, 2020

Genre is important. Start here, if you will. As I mentioned in our blog 'Get Published', and as we cover in our online creative writing courses, its the first thing an agent assesses on your submissions letter as they start to consider whether to read on and which editor to call for lunch. They'll be looking to check you've used the right ingredients for the genre.

Genres can be individually defined by the particular nature of the key driving force behind your story.

Each genre has its own secret agent of story, and that's how genres can be defined. Make sure you've got the right secret one in the driving seat of your moving vehicle! shall we peel back the disguise? It might be that the commonly held 'drivers' of genre are in fact wearing a mask.

You can find all our hero books here.

Thriller.

Driving Force: the antagonist

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.

An interesting twist on what you might expect at play here. The plot is driven by the 'bad guy' (the rapist) but...

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Podcasts for Writers. Feb 23, 2020

Convert that commute to a crammer session with inspiring content from fine minds in literature and publishing. These podcasts with writers and editors will prove consoling and cheering, and see you through not just the first draft, but the long haul. Ten great podcasts to keep writers smiling.

How To Get Podcasts. 

All podcasts are free, and most are available via many different apps.

On a website:

You can do this from a computer or from the web browser on your phone.

  • Find a website that has podcasts you like.
  • Find the player on the page, check your device’s sound is switched on and click play to listen to the podcast.

On your iPhone or iPad.

If you have an iPhone you can use the Apple podcasts app to listen to podcasts.

  • The Podcasts app should already be downloaded on your phone so search your apps for ‘Podcasts’. If it’s not, go to the app store and download it.
  • Open the Podcast app and go to the search page...
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Get Published. ( Know the Market.) Feb 16, 2020

 

All change.

Last week, on our intensive writers' residential course, we heard from bestselling authors Sophie Hannah and Louise Doughty and from literary agent Tim Bates at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop. The three agreed on one thing. Since 2000 the market for fiction has changed dramatically, and these three long-haul survivors have learnt one lesson very well. The rise and rise of psychological fiction, and the thriller form, has changed the way we want to read books now. The rise of this fast-moving genre coincides with the Age of Impatience and the new media of Netflix & Co. 'What's going to happen, next?' We expect twists and pace. 

The thrills and spills of mainstream fiction via this dark, internalized cloak and dagger genre and it's partners in crime and mystery, has snuffed the life out of the Literary Fiction genre, irreparably it seems. if you want Literary Fiction, see Trollope. Tim Bates made the comment that literary fiction can only make it if there's a...

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Edit My Novel: The Final Polishing of Your Manuscript Feb 09, 2020

 

How to get your entire novel manuscript that final professional polish submission?

It's a two-stage process.

First, DIY. You grow as an author by being able to edit your own novel through numerous passes, and our Editing courses will help you eliminate a few drafts. We'll show you how to do it, giving you a method to last you a lifetime. (Our 'reversible' course is quite a cool way to plan a novel too!)

Second, Professional Help. When you've done multiple successive drafts and cracked story and character development to the satisfaction of any reader, you'll want to dot some i's and cross some t's and you may wisely feel you need another pair of eyes on your full manuscript and some final proofreading beyond the tools we recommend at The Novelry, you'll need some human help which can take into account your creative treatment's quirks and ploys.

1. DIY.

You need to be very hard on your work, and push it through as many drafts as required. As...

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