#1. When does the writing course start?
Our courses start the moment you sign up. They’re served on a drip-feed system which deposits a new lesson daily into your library at The Novelry. (Unless you’re taking the entire Classic Course, The Big Edit or The Complete Novel Course in which case you’ll have access to the entire course immediately.) Ready when you are!
#2. What does your writing course entail?
Be prepared to set some time aside daily for your lessons and writing. For the Ninety Day Novel Course we suggest ten to twenty minutes for the lesson and an hour daily for writing during your course. You'll need an internet connection for the lessons given as text online and by video. At The Novelry we offer speak-aloud facility to assist those with visual or auditory impairments and writers for whom English is a second language. The lessons can be translated into many languages. See here. You'll be guided how to write a story, step by step at The Novelry, and if you choose The Classic course you'll even be shown how to come up with a great idea for a big story.
The Classic Course is a stand-alone course to take at your own speed in your own time. You can do a lesson a week if you wish! The lessons may take you 10-20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes to read, and the prompts or exercises can take as long as you want to give them. They'll certainly get you thinking, and creating! The course was created to help you come up with a big story idea. It's not like The Ninety Day Novel course so no, no idea needed. We'd rather you came to it with an open mind!
#3. What if I have half a novel written already?
Well done! Most of our writers coming onto The Ninety Day Novel course seem to come with work they've had in the drawer for some time. You can read more about our typical writer here. We work hard to get the idea for your novel nice and clean and simple. A good solid idea up front (not too clever, not too philosophically heavy) will see you through. So we will spend some time when you join us checking the bases, wheel-kicking, before we let you hit the road again.
Many come with nothing at all! If you want to come up with a good story, try the Classic Course first. Whether you're writing for adults or children, this will show you what you need to cover for story success.
#4. How ‘good’ a writer should I be?
The best writers tend to think they’re not very good writers. I cheer every time I start work with a writer and they tell me they’re not very good. I know we’re going to be fine. Love your craft, live your craft. It’s a long haul and you never hit perfection. The greats despaired about their writing. This is John Steinbeck writing in his journal at more than halfway through (#entry 52) his 100 day write of The Grapes of Wrath: ‘My many weaknesses are beginning to show their heads. I simply must get this thing out of my system. I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were. The success will ruin me as sure as hell. It probably won’t last and that will be all right. I’ll try to go on with work now. Just a stint every day does it. I keep forgetting.’ (‘Working Days’ John Steinbeck.)
What I will say is that you should read fiction with pleasure. Honestly, if you don't you’re not going to write a novel.
#5. When’s a good time to start writing a novel?
Because there’s never a good time, there’s now a great place. The Novelry will support you every step of the way to your happy ending. We won’t let you fail. The Novelry has been carefully constructed to be a writing womb! We have all the support systems required. You will need one hour a day to write a novel. Yes, we finish novels every week. See the testimonials. What if you’d started years ago? Imagine if you’d been writing a novel a year since you first wanted to write how many you’d have now? Don’t waste time. Start now! As Doris Lessing said, “Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”
All of our writers have lives, families, duties, day jobs. We have handled all sorts of life problems and crises including major illnesses, relationship breakdowns and job changes. The one thing that really throws a writer, however, is moving house. The psychic space occupied by a novel and a house move seems to be the same. So if you’re moving house, hold off before you start the course.
#6. What if I have to stop writing during the course?
It happens. Real life’s nowhere near as good as writing fiction, as you will soon discover. But don’t worry. We plan for this. You’ll have a nice clean idea, a cogent chaptered outline and writing plan in hand within days of starting the course which acts as a map for you to find your way home to your novel. You’ll have your tutor at the end of the line ready to get you back on track with a working session to re-boot you, and you have a year’s access to the course. If you need to extend it, you can bolt onto your plan month-to-month access for a very small monthly subscription.
#7. I’m nervous to be honest.
Only one writer has ever arrived at The Novelry denying feeling nervous. (Hello, Sean.) There’s a very warm welcome waiting you. We have a welcome party online daily for new writers to say hello to each other and receive a shower of gifs of hugs and joy from other writers. The Novelry is a special place. Dark-hearted and warm. We’re a very affectionate bunch. We know how much this means to you. It means a lot to us. No writer is ever secure in their work, but you’ll soon feel super-supported.
#8. Do we have to share our work with each other on a creative writing course?
At The Novelry, we take issue with courses that require writers working on first drafts to show it for the critique of other non-published writers. It’s a VERY bad idea. Never share your work with anyone at first draft. Of course it stinks! It’s a first draft! Your novel is precious and vulnerable at this stage and you’re writing it for you. The second draft you write for a reader, and we guide you through that process and only when you’ve made that huge leap do you consider sharing. I say to my writers - you don’t get to look smart at first draft. The art’s in the second draft. Read more about the drafts you’ll do here. Of course you’ll share your idea and storyline with your tutor as you go, but your tutor is your writing buddy, completely on your side. We believe in you and want the best for you and your story. From your very first working session we will work on making sure the story is a runner and commercially viable too. Please, I beg you, don’t show your first draft to anyone. Especially not your parents. There will be blood on the floor.
#9. You don’t seriously believe anyone can write a book?
Yes. I do. I am the living proof of it. The sole qualification is an enjoyment of reading fiction. You can read all of our many success stories at the testimonials page. These were people like you browsing the website. Now they are people like you with novels they have written. Read our members’ stories. The question is really - do you want to write a novel? If you do, you’ve come to the right place.
#10. Creative writing courses pretend there are rules to writing a novel. But it’s not true.
We don’t offer rules, we offer tools. You’ll certainly find many new tools to help you write your own novel your way. I tell my writers, in this small private part of your life, you are the author and you get to play God. Enjoy it. Play purposefully. But be aware of all the wonderful tools at your disposal used by the masters who went before.
Please be very careful about the course you choose to write your first novel. Make sure at the very least the author teaching has a great reputation and is recognised to be a good writer. Take a look at their work and see if you like it. Invest wisely.
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