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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!
From the Desk of Emylia Hall.
I’ve recently been dipping into The Gifts of Reading, a collection of essays and literary love letters from the likes of Robert Macfarlane, Candice Carty-Williams, and William Boyd, full of personal meditations on the power of gifting stories. For Robert Macfarlane, whose initial essay The Gifts of Reading inspired the project, the book he gives, again and again, is In a Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. The latter is a particularly resonant, if not bittersweet, title for these times, where we’re trying to focus our gratitude and count our blessings, and reach out to others in need; to do, simply, our best.
A recurring idea in The Gifts of Reading is that giving someone a book is a particularly intimate gesture; you profess to know their soul and are serving it accordingly – which perhaps makes it risky gifting territory for some; I’m sure we’ve all had those conversations where we can’t believe that a friend, so...
From the Dressing Room of a Dame.
(Philip Meeks is on enforced sabbatical from pantomime, writing his novel with The Novelry. Photo © Bob Workman.)
On the day I turned three, my life took such an irrevocably warped turn I never looked back...
I wish the opening sentence of my novel had come as easy.
I’d been a model child which is probably why I’ve been anything but as an adult. I was white-blonde haired with a deep brown-eyed searching stare. I’d have been a Midwich Cuckoo if I’d had the attention span. Elderly neighbours came to sit and stare at how I ate my meals precisely, foodstuff by foodstuff, without moaning or mess. My mother says there was silence as they tried to work out how they’d gone so wrong with their own mash-splattered sprogs. I learned to speak too soon, I was walking within months and I had the early shoots of lively curiosity and imagination clearly on display.
But I fell asleep when storytime...
Christmas comes to The Novelry in the form of completed novels, so many first drafts, awaiting their next draft in the new year. Congratulations to all of you for making sure you didn't rely on Santa for your best gift this Christmas! The year in fiction was a blessed relief versus the year in reality. We drew close at The Novelry as writers and enjoyed time together online, in our own good company and with well-known authors too.
We have learnt so much this year by pulling together. This was ever the vision enshrined in our logo - the octopus. One shared mind bulging and many tentacles writing!
With some three hundred novelists writing with us presently, we have our tentacles on many works of fiction. At The Novelry HQ, we keep our tabs on our writers novels as a team thank to a wonderful 'doctors system' updated in real-time by our writers' activities withing their online course, and at every one-to-one tutor session. We have instituted a Monday team meeting as...
We are delighted to welcome Kate Riordan to The Novelry as a tutor. She's a wonderful addition to the team and it's great to have her with us. She's off to a flying start, and available for sessions now. Find out more about Kate and her novels here. Her first historical novel published by Penguin was hailed as a must-read for fans of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. More recently, with her fourth novel, Kate has made a move into writing psychological suspense with the thriller published this summer - Heatwave.
Come and meet Kate 'in person' at our special session on Wednesday 9th December at 6pm. Members can book in at the booking page.
From the Desk of Kate Riordan.
My favourite film growing up was Back to the Future, which came out when I was seven. I went to see it with my dad at the Odeon in Muswell Hill and, during the walk home, euphoric from the film which had held me rapt for 116 minutes, I fired questions at Dad about the space-time continuum...
The Top Ten Writing Apps for Writers for 2021.
It just gets better and better! We enjoyed a live session with its founder recently - available for writers of The Novelry at our Catch Up TV. 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 writing. I use ProWritingAid for that final finesse. Here's their latest news: they have launched a new Word add-in for Mac users. It was their most requested development for years! Find out more about the Mac add-on here.
Now, what else? Their sexy new summary format! That's what, and it's why ProWritingAid tops our list of apps for writers this year! Congrats to the ProWritingAid team.
Jessie Burton is the million-selling, award-winning author of The Miniaturist, The Muse and The Confession, as well as her children's book The Restless Girls. The Miniaturist and The Muse were Sunday Times No.1 bestsellers, New York Times bestsellers, and BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. The Miniaturist went on to sell over a million copies in its year of publication and was named the National Book Awards Book of the Year and Waterstones Book of the Year 2014. In 2017 it was adapted as a two-part miniseries on BBC One, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Alex Hassell and Romola Garai. Jessie Burton's novels have been published in 40 languages.
From the desk of Jessie Burton
I’m writing this piece less than two days after finishing my sixth book. It isn’t due for another fortnight, but I’ve been thinking about and writing this one since May 2016, and it happens like this sometimes. There you...
First drafts are precious. They are tender, private, and for your eyes only. A first draft is a chance to tell yourself the story; to figure out the hopes and dreams of your characters (and, crucially, their flaws); to discover the world on the page. You might not have it all at the beginning, but you’ll certainly be one step closer by the end. A first draft needs to be coaxed, which is why we suggest you keep it to yourself – and why, when you work with your author tutor, we won't ask to see your prose too early in the process and suggest holding back on feedback until later.
Other writing courses may differ – I know this because I’d taken a few over the years. I have sat in classrooms workshopping 5,000 words of my classmates’ first drafts each week, during which I barely wrote a word of my own novel. I have read my early work aloud in the upstairs room of pubs across London and posted my burgeoning prose on blogs....
Writer's block? Go back to your novel gingerly and potter about in its grounds if you've been away. Read a little of it - possibly from the beginning if you're not too far in or the last three chapters if you are - make notes and sure enough you'll be back in the swing of things. It doesn't have to be 'important' in its themes or claims this book of yours. Your stage is not the world stage, but just as importantly the arena of the human mind, the theatre of the human heart. Entertain us - by all means make us laugh, make us cry - but help us walk in other shoes. Show us the lie of the land. Being other, being another, and your way of telling is what makes your work unique and worthy.
“Words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts.”
José Saramago, 1998 Nobel Literature Prize Winner.
You can sing your story low and lovelorn like Sinatra, or stalk across the page and sashay like RuPaul. But rest easy, you will be doing something meaningful...
Paula Hawkins is the Sunday Times and New York Times No.1 bestselling author of The Girl on the Train, Into the Water and A Slow Fire Burning. The Girl on the Train has sold more than 23 million copies worldwide and was adapted into a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt.
From the desk of Paula Hawkins
I didn’t set out to write an unputdownable book, but when The Girl on the Train was published, I was told very clearly that I had, and that numerous train stops had been missed as readers were compelled to keep turning the pages.
Unputdownable hadn’t been an aim: I had wanted to write a crime novel about a young woman with a drink problem who suffers from blackouts, because I was interested in how her memory of acting a certain way related to her sense of guilt and responsibility for her actions.
You might want to write a book about the plight of women accused of witchcraft in the late sixteenth century, or about a southern African...
A page-turner like the novel Rebecca doesn't happen by accident.
Obsessed with Rebecca? So are we. What did Daphne Du Maurier have that we don't? In this post, we'll take a look.
A handful of writers have a gift to be able draw upon story structure intuitively. (Very few.) Some writers happen upon a number of the elements of a page-turning story by accident in their first novel, almost unwittingly it seems. But it's likely they've been turning the first story around in their heads for many years.
Most writers work using multiple revisions to structure and re-structure to include make their story gripping for readers, after the first draft. The virtuous shape of a novel emerges in the later drafts. (We have a few shortcuts up our sleeve to raise the work between drafts with our Novel Development plan.) Here's how the novel Rebecca happened.
Writing and Re-writing a Novel Like Rebecca.
At the age of 30, Daphne du Maurier had already...
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