The Novelry Blog
Where the writers are.
Louise Tucker has won the inaugural Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize for her "tender, moving, beautifully drawn" novel.
The award for unfinished manuscripts was launched earlier this year by Peters Fraser + Dunlop e-book imprint Agora Books.
Tucker wins a consultation with an Agora editor and a PFD agent. She was selected from 377 entries by a judging panel of Agora publisher Kate Evans, Bookseller Rising Star and PFD literary agent Marilia Savvides, author Laura Pearson, and book blogger Amanda Chatteron.
Her novel is described as a “touching tale of aging, grief, and self-discovery” about main character George, whose day of celebration turns into one of misery.
Tucker said: “I am so delighted to win the Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize. The main character,...
A year ago, Peters, Fraser + Dunlop contacted me, taking note of the quality of work coming out of The Novelry through our creative writing courses, and asked whether an association might be useful for all parties. So, I went to meet with Tessa David and Tim Bates of PFD on New Oxford Street and we had a chat about the kind of writing that excites us all. We agreed to work together to progress talent coming out of The Novelry, and I asked them for one thing; that the Novelry's graduates get VIP treatment. When I submit work on my writers' behalf, the agency should give us an expression of interest within two weeks.
Since then other agents have been in touch with The Novelry asking to be on our list for first sight of great novels as they emerge hot from our oven, and I've made contact with agents I know to be wonderful advocates of their writers' work in genres useful to my writers. The same deal applies to all - no slush pile! A two-week reading and...
The late Barbara Cartland was a prolific writer, even in her eighties she was writing 23 books a year including A Virgin in Mayfair, Cupid Rides Pillion, The Frightened Bride, The Elusive Earl, The Disgraceful Duke and The Knave of Hearts.
She reclined on a red velvet sofa in the opulent library where, every afternoon, she'd dictate the next 6,500-word chapter of another book to her literary secretary.
“It’s less ponderous than writing."
She completed a novel on average every two weeks.
Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo) was also accustomed to dictating his novels to a secretary before they were fashioned into his acclaimed works. Stendhal dictated The Charterhouse of Parma to a secretary from Nov. 4 to Dec 26 1838, over 50 days.
Henry James used a secretary to transcribe his spoken words, ushering in a new era of productivity for him which culminated in The Wings of the Dove, widely regarded as one of his finest...
"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." John Steinbeck.
Many of my beloved writers at The Novelry suffer from a sickness called overachievement - 'the curse of the capable'.
It's a condition for which there seems to be no cure, and yet perhaps there is.
Both intelligent and intuitive, overachievers find their way to The Novelry because they have a feeling the cure is inside the story. And they're right.
As we all know, stories have many therapeutic benefits either en masse or taken one at a time. We explore the 'eucatastrophe', the deliverance from evil described by Tolkien in the Classic course at The Novelry, and look at the life problems and psychological ills were chronicled in fairy tales. A little bit of 'doctor heal thyself' is prescribed in our story starter course which asks you to dig deep into your experience and first loved stories to find the seed of the story you need to write.
This week's blog is courtesy of one of our member's, Kate Tregaskis.
Getting Lost. (A Member's Story.)
I’ve been writing my current novel for approximately three hundred years. Having written and finished one before, inexperience is not the problem. In fact, I have also finished this one, a few times. But it has bounced back from agents with the feedback that: there isn’t enough of a plot; more needs to happen; the book is ‘not enough of a ride.’
Trawling the internet earlier this year, I came across The Novelry and more specifically the editing course. It seemed just what I needed. For good measure, I signed up to the community too. Fast forward a few months and I was in full swing, getting up early to write, more focused than I’d been in ages and feeling like I was making steady progress. At last, I could see what I needed to do to corral my 70,000 or so words into something that resembled a story.
And then the shit hit the fan. My...
Here's how to create a story:
1. Know it
An experience or circumstances of which you have direct knowledge as a participant or an outsider looking in
2. See it
Translate it - to a different time or place or different gender main character - to create arms-length distance to get a more 'divine' perspective on the matter
3. Apply Pity
Feel for the flaw or failing of the hero taking this journey and appreciate their charisma (magic or personal charm which will prove an amulet to protect them and deliver them to a safe place to find themselves 'beloved' on this earth)
flaw + charisma
4. Own it
Take your most loved book of all time, consider why you love it. If it's a genre - a period of history, or speculative treatment sci-fi or fantasy - or a human psycho-drama or thriller - now's the time to own up to it. What is it about it? A mood? A place? A mode of discourse? A kind of human intimacy? A sense that anything is possible or that everything is impossible. Humour?...
Kiss your darlings!
Grab your tote bag, and fill it with books then head off in pursuit of your literary dreamboats to salute them and get the book signed. One of our members, who undertook one of our creative writing courses, gives us an account of her own adventures in stalking an author this week.
Here's a brief account of some of the festivals available to book-loving novelists.
The Bath Festival (May)
Hay Festival (Last week in May)
Winchester Writers' Festival (June)
Wealden Literary Festival (June)
Port Eliot Festival (End July)
Edinburgh International Book Festival (Third week in August)
Norwich - the Perfect Crime Writing Festival (September)
Bloody Scotland - Crime Writing Festival (September)
The Brooklyn Book Festival (September)
Cheltenham Literature Festival (October)
London Literature Festival (October)
It's hard to know for sure when you've reached the end of a novel, insofar as you can take it, by which I mean you're sending it to your agent.
You're battle weary. You can't see the wood for the trees. It's the forty-fifth draft.
The story makes sense. But your worry may now be that the story makes too much sense at the expense of mystery. So you'll want to go back to a few key moments to make them accurate and translucent - shimmering - to create more space for the reader.
I like to perform these last checks while reading Raymond Carver on loop during the last week or so before I hit send.
He was the master when it came to making space for the reader.
"I forget who passed along a copy of Babel’s Collected Stories to me, but I do remember coming across a line from one of his greatest stories. I copied it into the little notebook I carried around with me everywhere in those days. The narrator, speaking about Maupassant and the...
A Member's Story.
Adam Langley spent his youth reading books such as the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate and wondering why so many people wanted to go to Hogwarts when they had the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters as an option. Adam has been published on several websites including SyFyWire and Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men.
He has attempted to write a fantasy novel five times. Then he found The Novelry and his fantasy became a reality. He took The Classic Course, one of our novel writing courses, and wrote his novel using The Ninety Day Novel course.
The Blue Disks of Michaelmas is his first finished novel. It's 89,950 words long.
Here's Adam on the reality of writing his fantasy novel with a day job.
I think all writers, especially writers of science fiction and fantasy, like to plan. We like our extended universes. We like giving our characters more room to move and grow and do stuff that is interesting. The problem arises when we spend more time...
If a novel is one person's moral journey towards acceptance of their place in the universe, then the plot is contrived to give them a gift or gifts to help them on their way to which he or she is particularly ill-suited.
Nail those - the human flaw and the perfectly unsuitable circumstances - and you've got the essential irony that powers a novel.
A disaster story brings these into sharp dramatic relief. As one of my writers pointed out this week, the hero of the Jaws movie is afraid of water.
But there's more - it's not the flaw that's so important in the grand scheme of a disaster story, so much as the hero or heroine's gift.
The narrative path as outlined in The Five F's of story at The Novelry, finds its immaculately opposite form in a disaster story. The negative image. Perhaps that's not surprising, for is a novel is propelled by what the main character wants, in a disaster story it's all about what they don't want to happen.
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