"It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads." Oliver Sacks.
In Musicophilia, Sacks tells some very moving stories about those with terrifyingly profound amnesia, or Alzheimer's disease, for whom music can "restore them to themselves". He claimed that music may be our best medicine.
I've often wondered about the connection between music and writing. Many of my writers use music, as do I , to enter the right mood for a piece of prose.
Oliver Sacks described as "amusic", those who do not seem to understand or feel music at all in his book Musicophilia. He considered with pity the case of Vladimir Nabokov, who famously said he experienced music merely as "an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"; and he wondered about how little music is mentioned in Henry James's work.
If there's an order of merit, many writers would accord first place...
Part of our method at The Novelry is to encourage working novelists to read and re-read a 'hero book' during the course of writing their first draft. First for the story, then for the technique and to abide with this one book during the writing of a first draft as a training frame. The act of faith, abiding with it, is good discipline in itself for sticking with the novel, but when you read a masterful novel, it reveals itself to you in layers which you will only perceive after many readings.
This week's blog post comes from our member, Viv Rich, who inspired by our recent writer's retreat has taken an old-school approach to taking a fresh look at her work in progress. Her chosen hero book is The Great Gatsby. You can find our suggested hero books listed here, there's one for every genre and they are chosen for the virtuous story structure which teaches novelists as they read.
Hunter S. Thompson typed out The Great Gatsby and A Call to Arms...
This week's Member's Story comes from Walter Smith from Alabama.
'Props' to him - a new word he has taught me. See story for details...
There is a silver bowl in a box around here somewhere that I received in eighth grade for winning a fiction award. I keep it in case I become strapped for funds and need to melt it, though I suspect it may be silver-plated, not sterling. The award bore the name of a writer named Conrad Richter, and the presenters were thoughtful enough to include a copy of one of his books inscribed by his daughter offering best wishes and prosperity, the usual pap. To be truthful, I thought little of the book. It involved American Indians and frontiersmen as I recall, something they erroneously thought might intrigue a pubescent male. Sort of Hawthorne-lite, but lacking wonderful names like Natty Bumppo and the imprimatur of countless freshman English syllabi.
One story published in a regional magazine. It told the inspirational tale of my...
This week's story comes from Bec Davidson who joined us this month to writer her novel at last.
A decade ago, a dark cloak of loneliness settled over me with an effortless familiarity. I was adjusting to a new life living as an expatriate in Hong Kong. My unwanted solitude became an ‘enabler’ to my long-standing reading addiction. Closeness to the equator meant short days and long nights. My darkened hours became punctuated with Austen, McGregor, Fitzgerald, Ballard, Orwell, Huxley, Greene and many more of the literary greats. The characters became my friends and I became immersed in my new companions’ lives.
I read until the starlight faded, and the first smudges of light darted through my bedroom window. Only in the singular beat, before the milky dawn eclipsed the neon-lighted sky, would sleep pull me away.
Gruelling rounds of infertility treatment led me down a depressive pathway. A sadness quickly planted...
I love a good edit. I love how close that word is to tidy.
Here's how my novel seems to me to be after the first draft.
Here's how I like to think of it turning out after the big edit, the second draft:
The second draft is light years ahead of the first - it is organized as a story.
The story has drama! Light and shade. A villain with a purpose and a stumbling heroine or hero. A theme - as in something I am going to damn well prove to be true. This should be there at first draft, and it was, but it was crummy. Now it's looking like I mean business. The layering of rewriting fattens the chapters and their content should hit the reader with impact, images and ideas, forthright pronouncements, deceit, conflict, lies, desires are regulated in the second draft to propel the heroine towards facing her mortal condition, and working out how to use the time she has here on this earth.
Thanks to a dose of Sophocles' Theban Plays and Shakespeare's...
On Monday morning, I asked Siri what the weather was like. Minus Four, Siri told me.
Waving bye-bye to Wifi I went off into the woods to sit in a shed down the track from my mother's house. The heater required assembly. Communicating between woollen-hatted brows and muffled chins, fumbling with our fingerless gloves on, mother and I failed. I plugged it in anyway, it tried its best but it was a poor excuse for a heater.
My little dog admired the ice on the inside of the windows, enjoyed a tryst with an old pair of shoes my mother had thoughtfully left for him, then curled up in an old wicker armchair, nose in tail.
It's a remote and secluded place, no traffic noise at all. My mother doesn't have the internet and her house is at a little distance. She left me the bell she used as a child to tell her father to come in from the nursery gardens for his tea. I was to ring it if I needed her. We were both rather excited about the whole...
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.
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...