Many people know they want to write but find themselves stalled at the first hurdle. They can’t put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) because they don’t know if they have a story idea that’s worth writing. And novel writing is a big investment – not just in terms of time, but emotionally too. It makes sense that we’d want to be certain we have a winner on our hands.
That’s why with The Novelry’s creative
writing courses, we begin with a breakdown of what makes a cracking
story. And from your very first one-to-one
coaching session, a bestselling author in your genre will help you
assess and mould your idea to make sure it’s got legs.
Remember: a good story almost writes itself. Get off to a good start and you’ll fly
through the writing process.
To help you decide which of your ideas to
commit to the page, we’ll give you a little primer in this story assessment –
but come and find us to sign
up to a course once you’re ready to really dive in!
Don’t let your insecurities become obstacles!
While self-doubts may creep in, you
shouldn’t let them be the reason you don’t write. For many writers – including
The Novelry founder, Booker Prize-listed author Louise
Dean – the story evolves during
the writing process. So even if your plot isn’t razor-sharp and airtight
just yet, you might find it takes shape once you stop criticising it and
instead open yourself up to its possibilities.
your story to the greats
We’re not talking about trying to write
like Tolstoy – writers should honor their own unique voices. What you can
do is lean on some of the all-time
classic story structures in fiction, to develop a stand-out story that’s both
comfortingly familiar for readers but has your own unique twist based on your
life experience and the things that matter to you.
At The Novelry, we suggest writers immerse themselves in the deep but simple storytelling archetypes using fairy tales and folklore to help them learn the art of storytelling. In fact, global bestselling author Harriet Tyce enjoyed the course and wrote about how she’s found inspiration for her stories in fairy tales.
So many writers can write but if only it
were all about the writing! Readers buy stories,
not fine or fancy words, and so do publishers, so ensure your story affects
readers, and work with some of the biggest stories of all time, while mining
your own hidden desires with our Classic Course to compe up with the story only
you can tell, a story readers will love.
Consider your theme
Rather than striving to work out every beat
of your plot, take a step back and assess the bigger picture of your story.
A great way to do this is to pinpoint the
theme(s) you’re aiming to explore. Consider this as something you feel strongly
about, then look at the journey your main character or hero goes on towards
enlightenment. The first half of your book will be the old world where things
are wrong, and in the second half of your book your theme will emerge to
provide your hero with a better way to live there life. Once you have your
theme, you can consider every element of the story in terms of how it best
serves it. You can start to sketch your
setting – a time and place that brings your theme into sharp relief. And then
come your main characters and minor players too. Try a protagonist who’s
spectacularly ill-equipped to tackle the trials of your theme for high drama,
or someone being tugged by its opposing ends. If your theme is the desire for
solitude versus the need for community, it might be a recluse who’s forced into
close proximity with others – perhaps a family member falls ill, they get a new
job, they need a flatmate. Now you’re telling a story!
Make sure there’s a problem
That brings us on to the next point: your
story needs conflict. If nothing is wrong in your protagonist’s life, there can
be no character arc, no development – in short, no story.
As writers, we can fall in love with our
fictional characters and want to make their lives as easy and joyful as
possible. Resist that temptation; be mean, and then meaner. Make their life
difficult, watch them squirm and see them grow!
A great story starts with a devilish
dilemma or a life-and-death problem.
See how high your stakes are
Simply having a problem isn’t enough. That
problem needs consequences – preferably of the dire variety. What will happen
if your character doesn’t address the conflict at the heart of your story? Why
should your reader care if they fail or succeed?
Remember: this is fiction. It doesn’t need
to be true to life. Lots of writers, particularly those starting out, simply
need to raise the stakes and they suddenly have a fantastic story on their
hands. Don’t be scared to bring the drama!
Look to the middle
The midpoint of your story will tell you a lot about what you’re working with.
Essentially, the midpoint is the perfect place to build the structure of your plot around. It’s a
point of no return for the protagonist and usually brings a new realisation –
we see them at their lowest, and they start to understand what needs to change
for them to reach the conclusion. The midpoint bridges the old story world and
the new. Our founder, Louise Dean, says she picks up a plot by the midpoint as
the simplest way to structure a story with events which compound the problem to
the left and those where things begin to drop into place to the right.
If you can pinpoint your midpoint, with a
path from a beginning and to how your story might finish (remember, you don’t
need details yet!), that spells a very positive story prognosis.
leave your story to chance!
These tips should help you understand the
magic of your story and make sure it’s one readers won’t be able to put down.
But remember, if you want support through
every step of the novel-writing marathon,, we’re ready and waiting to give you
a warm welcome at The Novelry, the world’s favorite creative writing school
with courses, coaching and community to guide your journey through the woods.
The Novelry is a creative writing school that offers something unique: one-to-one coaching with bestselling authors and the chance to work with editors from major publishing houses. With live writing classes and events every week, we’ll be your novel writing team, focusing on what matters most – helping you write the very best story you can. With more five-star reviews than any other creative writing course program, our writers have called our approach ‘life-changing’.
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Editors page: https://www.thenovelry.com/coaching/editors
Creative writing blog: https://www.thenovelry.com/blog