Welcome to the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere - the time when we experience the longest period of darkness and the shortest daylight hours before the rebirth of the sun as the daylight hours begin getting longer again.
On the shortest day, the sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. We experience the longest night. The shortest day of the year lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes and 41 seconds in Britain (8 hours, 49 minutes shorter than the summer solstice.)
Stonehenge is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset. Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC and it is thought that the winter solstice was actually more important to the people who constructed Stonehenge than the Summer solstice. The winter solstice was a time when cattle was slaughtered (so the animals would not have to be fed during the winter) and the majority of wine and beer was finally...
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.”
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,...
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!)
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...
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...
As our members know, one of our practical methods is dubbed 'The Two Pedals.' A writing machine (that's you the novelist) comes with two pedals - writing and reading. When one runs out of juice, you turn to the other.
Our method at The Novelry is to show you how to write a novel in one hour a day, and we have you walk the talk for 90 days with The Ninety Day Novel course. We show you how to harness the power of the subconscious in the 23 hours which remain. It works beautifully, transforming even the dullest events into material. Your wicked and wondrous mind does the work.
When you're on a big push, as many of us are right now, it pays to double up. We run a one-hour-a-day writing method at The Novelry but in these wonderful writing days of winter, I've been pushing on with two hours writing and two hours reading.
I've found the new writing slot for the busy working mother - the bedtime shift. Drafting the scene...
We are thrilled to announce that our member Katie Khan's novel 'Hold Back the Stars' is being made into a movie!
Two of Hollywood's most sought-after young stars are joining forces for the sci-fi love story. Stars Wars actor John Boyega and Black Panther actress Letitia Wright are attached to star in the adaptation of the novel that centres on a man and a woman who revisit memories of their love affair on a utopian Earth while they are trapped in the vast void of space with only 90 minutes of oxygen.
We are so proud of Katie. Conceptually, Katie dares to dream and aims high, and she works hard. Not only does she have a full-on day job but she writes novels with fierce determination. She began her second novel 'The Light Between Us' when she started the Ninety Day Novel course with us in August 2017 and it was published by Transworld in August 2018. She's an author who is generous towards her teammates...
The writers gathered, windswept and willing, in the vale of Marshwood on Tuesday afternoon last week.
We'd come past Stonehenge, down through valleys with breathtaking views, hilltops with clusters of Autumn-clad trees.
We were met with a warm welcome from the hostess, the Lady of Marshwood Manor, Romla Ryan. She showed us to the luxurious cottages with standalone baths, plushly-laundered beds and kitchens stocked with fresh milk, ground coffee and cafetieres. What more could a weary writer need?
I sat down on the sofa in my recessed sitting room, and looked out at an ancient oak tree from my cottage across the fields and thought - wow, this is quiet. Not a sound. No road noise.
'People say - we came the wrong way,' said Romla, 'but I say - no, there's only one road. It's just rural.'
As dark fell, writers gathered for tea and homemade cake and began telling each other the story of their novels. They discussed their plans for the sacred week. A chance to regroup,...
Creativity can be unleashed by structure. I remember from my days of advertising how awful the creative work was if the brief wasn't tight. I've broken stride in writing my new novel to perform a stringent edit on it, and I think there's something to be said for this method.
So, if you are on first draft, and feeling concerned about it, then this hybrid method which combines writing forwards and editorial 'retrospective' planning might work for you.
It might help you, as it has me, to stop loafing around on the outside of your novel, and get inside it.
For my method you will need:
- about 10k minimum words of material; love it or hate it, it's not important.
- title, hook, and synopsis for your book revised in the last few days. Phase Two of the Editing Your Novel course has you work through the beautiful logic of these to nail them. I'm going to assume you have followed the course and created a virtuous title (see my 'Walking Method'), a...
Hanif Kureishi famously dismissed the teaching of creative writing, saying that writing a story is:
'a difficult thing to do and it's a great skill to have. Can you teach that? I don't think you can.'
(According to Philip Hensher, Kureishi teaches creative writing at Kingston University, 'ineffectually')
We all learn to write. If you're serious about something, generally you will want to learn how to do it well. I wonder why some writersfeel they need to look down on aspiring writers once they have been published and claim writing is some 'mystical gift'. It's not; it's a skilled craft. It's one you need to keep learning; you never reach a golden plateau.
Serious writers have always sought and will always seek teachers long before their work gets to an editor's desk.
In defence of teaching creative writing, Kurt Vonnegut said:
‘A tough guy, I forget which one, is asked to speak to a creative writing class....
The idea for your novel doesn't often come to you whole and complete. If you're writing historical fiction then it may do, as mine did for This Human Season which is set in Northern Ireland in 1980 and 1981. That came to me on the platform of Clapham North tube station in 2003. I watched a few trains come and go as it dawned on me. But my other three novels came to life in stages.
Usually, the final novel is the result of an idea that has grown and acquired more substance like the proverbial rolling stone.
It seems to me though that there are elements to the idea which remain in place through the multiple drafts you will write. The details shift and change as you feel for what's most moving, most provoking, most important. A novel is a long struggle and it's good, necessary even, to get a first draft down in a season as we do in The Ninety Day Novel course. But you will return to it at second draft and amend it as new realities and truths...