I confess that I had no idea about The Novelry until Gabriella Drinkald at Midas introduced me to them. Now I have heard about what The Novelry has on offer, I’m delighted to participate in the blog tour by sharing a guest post Louise Dean as part of this year’s National Storytelling Week. Louise is the Founder of The Novelry. Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.
Let’s see what Louise has to tell us:
Your Story – My Story:
Find the inspiration to start telling your story.
A Guest Post by Louise Dean
The theme of this year’s National Storytelling Week is Your Story, My Story, and that’s something we at The Novelry can really get behind. We believe strongly that everyone has a story to tell – no matter their background, status, or education level. We take beginner authors all the way through from coming up with that initial idea to a finished novel that they are really proud of. We work with them on writing the first draft, then we dig deep for a rigorous edit, and when they are ready, we help authors to land that dream agent and publishing deal. We are supportive and encouraging, and believe that magic happens when authors work collaboratively. You can tell the story you want to – you story – even if that feels daunting at first.
Every person’s story is unique – it’s unique to you. Here, I hope to inspire you to start finding that story, and I’m going to give you a few tips to get you thinking. Whether it’s a short story you want to write, whether you’re feeling inspired to give the oral tradition of storytelling a go, or whether you want to make this year the year you write a novel, hopefully this will get your brain whirring, start the trickle of an idea, or leave you inspired to have a go at telling that story.
Below are seven ways ‘in’ to finding a story. Often, it will be a combination of a few different ways in that leads you to finding the story – the one that really feels worth telling.
- Dig deep into who you are. Ask yourself what you want, and what you fear – useful tools in crafting the perfect story. A storyteller works with the things that trouble them, to resolve their darkest predicament and put out a cry to the universe for help. Start with your fears and bring them to light.
- Take the time to stop and wonder. Every time you do so, you’re starting to create the beginning of a story. When you see someone looking sad as they walk down the street, take a moment to wonder why. When a couple are sniping at each other in the supermarket, try to wonder what led them to this – are they always like this, is this a bad day? When we look at other people, we look at ourselves too. Only differently. That’s what we do in stories, when we put a main character, a ‘hero’ in place, they are standing in for us. We can’t tell our own story straight, you see. We never see the back of ourselves, just like we never see how we really look to others truly. So we play possibilities out through the three dimensions of others. The less they’re like us, the more the magic of transformation happens. That’s how stories are born. Right there. By imagining the lives of others.
- Ask yourself ‘What If?’ What if X were to happen? What if Y were possible? Let’s take two examples. THE ONE: what if your DNA could match you with your one true love? THE LAST: what if you were the last survivors of the apocalypse – but discovered a murderer in your midst? Let your mind wander here – as your walking, driving, cooking dinner. Keep asking yourself what if and see where you get to.
- Don’t sweat originality. Often, new writers are worried that their idea isn’t ‘original’ enough, or that it has been ‘done before’. But here’s the thing – almost all stories have been ‘done before’, they just have not been told in the exact same way that you will tell it. In fact, readers don’t want They (along with publishers, if that’s your goal) want ‘the same thing, but different’. A twist on a story that already exists. So yes, you might need a sprinkling of something new, but true originality, that’s something not worth worrying about. So, when trying to come up with an idea for a story, take something familiar, popular and well-loved. A story you know well – fairy tales can be good inspiration here! Then add to it something very unexpected. Something that does not go with it at all. In fact the more opposed it is, the more startling or alarming, the more exciting your idea is.
- Character is key. Some storytellers like to come up with the premise or concept first (the ‘what if’), others like to build character first. Whichever way around you are, know that character is important. The protagonist – usually the main character in a story – is the reason someone will be interested. Whoever is engaging with your story will be doing so because they want to know what happens to the The main character should be someone the reader can identify with, in some way or another. They should also grow and change – whether from bad to good is up to you! – from the beginning to end of the story. So, take a character, and imagine what they are like as they pop into your head. What could be different about them? What could happen to them, to make them different? It’s ok to borrow people you know here! You can take elements of people that you know, as long as you change names and the odd detail. Sometimes, when starting out, it is easier to pull from real life to create a believable character. As Hans Christian Andersen said, ‘Most of what I have written is a reflection of myself. Every character is from life. I know and have known them all.’
- Or listen! If you want to be a novelist, then you need to read – and if you can read, then you can write. If you enjoy reading, you might very well find that you enjoy writing. And by that virtue, the type of stories you like will probably be the type of stories you like to tell. Read books that are inspiring and comforting. You need both things really because sometimes aspiring writers feel crippled by fear. No one starts writing like Chekhov. My own mother told me my writing was awful when I started, but I wanted to learn. If you read you can learn. At The Novelry, we offer an accelerated learning process, but no matter what stage you’re at, or whether you’ve decided to go this alone, it all starts with reading.
- Be you, only more so. Your individuality will make your story better. Your personality, your experience, the essence of your time on this earth, is the gift you give your story. So long as you give yourself candidly and wholeheartedly your writing will be a triumph.
Perhaps the last and most important thing to remember here is that you can do it. It might not be easy and you might hit bumps along the road, but if you feel you have a story in you, and you want to tell it, then stop doubting whether you have the ‘right’, the ability, the background, to tell it. Even if you don’t know, yet, what the story will be – if it’s something that calls to you, then you will find inspiration. Ideas don’t (always) happen by magic – we have to go looking for them.
Brilliant advice. Now all we need to do is get writing!
About The Novelry
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If you want to have a look at the story behind The Novelry – and how it all began – then do take a look here and if you’re interested in signing up for one of their courses, then do feel free to book a free, no obligation chat with one of their fabulous tutors here.
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