Tag Archives: Novel Writing

Mentoring Bubbles CALLING NOVELISTS

As some of you know I set up some mentoring bubbles at the start of 2021. I felt, with the never-ending lockdown, we writers all needed something. We needed interaction and some of us needed something to kick-start our writing, and to be accountable. A new year is always a perfect time for setting goals. As such, the programme (which I made a super low price) filled up with ten lovely writers and was so successful, in fact, over half of the people carried on with some mentoring once it was done. Now six months on, and I still work with three of them. As the world opened up it seemed fewer people wanted to join but we still had five for the one that soon comes to a close, and at least one of those plans to continue.

So it’s been successful and reflects the need for us all to adapt to the changing demands of our lives, especially at this odd time!

Zoom has changed the way I work, although I run my other editing and of course my own writing alongside it. I now offer a Zoom call to all editing clients post-edit and I think it works better than simply emailing over the answers to their questions. I am a ‘people’ person and so that interaction seems to work very well.

What I have come to realise is how useful it is to work together in this way. Zoom allows for screen share and getting up close and personal to identify both strengths and weaknesses. I look at style but also at the character development, story arc, plotting and so on.

I had planned a week dedicated to the short story with daily group sessions as well as a one-to-one critique but since no one has signed up and we only have a week to go, then I think it must be the way the world is at the moment. But I do have a short story week planned for December and I have a feeling that will be a better time, in fact I already have someone signed up for it.

What I want to focus on right now is ‘The novel bubble’ which NOW seeks writers. This starts in July and is for six novel writers who are working on and have some of or a full draft of a novel, be it first, second, even tenth draft and is stuck. What do they do now? They could come to someone like me for a full critique… or they could consider signing up for some intensive mentoring over 10 weeks. It’s a similar price, in fact, to a full critique on a 100K manuscript but the difference is we look at 10K a week (or thereabouts), with a Zoom call (up to 2 hours weekly) to look at what is working and what is not, with suggestions and guidance. Also weekly group sessions on all aspects of writing and I have a special guest for one of those sessions ūüôā My lovely agent can also offer her advice to you. The cost, up front for this bubble is ¬£599… but you do get a lot for that. If you are interested I do want to know more about YOU, the project, see a SAMPLE and you need to be able to commit to the sessions and the work. It runs JULY 11th to SEPTEMBER 19TH. Group and one-to-one sessions will be at a time and day to suit you all and we can work that out before we get started.

Please email me if you want to do this: writer@debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk

My hope is that this is the beginning of a productive and an enduring relationship.

So what qualifies me to help you? Firstly, I am one of you. I am a working writer, with a literary agent, and I know how hard it is to get work out there. My agent is working so hard for me now to sell one of my novels… it’s tough out there. But what I do know, from over eleven years of editing for writers and small presses, from mentoring writers, working as a small publisher, core editor for Cornerstones and being a published novelist and short story writer myself, is that it has to come from the heart. It’s about the PASSION. And that passion is what drives us to be better writers. We are all on a learning curve, just at different places. It is tough but what I can assure you is that the learning is reward in itself, and the people who make it, are the ones who NEVER GIVE UP.

If that’s you, get in touch and let’s begin our journey together.

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Countdown

Late blog this morning as was busy early, but just popping in to say have a great weekend all! The countdown begins and next week I will be posting short extracts of some of my published short stories and maybe novel extracts too on here in my own countdown until Friday!

So watch this space folks!

Happy Friday!

dreams-1

 

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On This Day… 22/11/2016

Today sees the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy. Three years ago I had the official launch of While No One Was Watching, my debut novel. And what a three years it has been.

The same year I won the inaugural Bath Short Story Award, was shortlisted in the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize and my story, The Theory of Circles, was also nominated for the highly acclaimed Pushcart Prize! It was hard to top that in a year!

The following year also saw successes, the biggest of which was finding an agent.

Since then I have had something published each year to keep that short story momentum going and had numerous signings and events along the way. I also moved to Essex, joined a gym and met a lovely man.  So personally and professionally my life has changed.

Give me a WHOOP!

Novel wise, I have still got the other three novels and been working on at least two new novels but am waiting for something to happen. My agent is so incredibly busy and she has now joined a much larger agency where her focus has changed more towards non-fiction. She still represents… me for the time being, but I am now making plans for 2017. I need to have another novel out there now!

I talked about my novel, and this whole idea of using a real event, such as the Kennedy assassination, woven into the fabric of fiction at the U3A event last Friday. Aptly timed of course for the anniversary. We used examples from film and talked about the historical novelists like Philippa Gregory and Sharon K Penman and where the historical novel sits (although mine is not a historical novel per se) in terms of representation of history. Can fiction change what we believe and is that a good thing? ¬†It went down really well and I sold 14 books which isn’t bad for an event like that!

I will share links to the U3A site as they also took photos  when that is live.

So on this special day, I am sharing links to my novel again (sorry!) for anyone who has not read it! Give it a go! Christmas presents?

 

New cover WNOWW

Buy me

Thanks and thoughts to Kennedy and what the world might have been if he was still here.

Would I even have written this novel?

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Blurred Lines

Tomorrow morning I will be talking to the lovely members of the U3A at St Nicholas Church on Canvey about my novel. Well to be more precise about the blurred lines between fact and fiction and if any book can be wholly one or the other. I will look at how we define fact, truth, accuracy and what obligation to truth, we writers have, when it comes to the portrayal of real events in our works of fiction.

What do you think of movies that claim to be ‘based on a true story’ when really they can be so loosely based very little is true. What about Braveheart? Titanic? U571, Pearl Harbor…? The portrayal of the Holocaust or war in fiction?

What about writers like Phillipa Gregory? Sharon K Penman? Hilary Mantel?

Do you think fiction about real events can actually change what people believe about real event or real people? Is that okay?

Any thoughts?

The talk happens on Canvey but is not open to the public, only members of the U3A, so 50 plus although some can bring paying guests.

Since it’s an early start tomorrow ¬†and I will want to be up and going over the talk one last time in the morning, there will be no blog but I will blog about it next week… I am away with the man this weekend so the next blog will be Tuesday!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Why not buy my novel for Christmas presies? I can sign copies for £5 plus postage to wherever you are!

I should have copies left after the event tomorrow, but message me if you want one.

Or order direct from Amazon!

 

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Need help?

I am so blessed that from the day I started to work with writers on critiques and edits, I have never been without a steady stream of work. I also work with Cornerstones and so take work from them, at the moment I mentor three lovely writers. I arrange my day so I write in the mornings and then ¬†some days, like today, I just work, but it’s great and I am so grateful I get to do what I love every day.

On my wall is a plaque that reads ‘Create The Life You Love’ and I can’t actually believe I did.

I plan to introduce a couple of day-long workshops next year; one will be local to where I live, another might be in London if we have enough interest; a day workshop on writing and where to take your edits. If anyone is interested in the London one please let me know as I will need to look into venues. I also would like to offer some more mentoring with novels or short story collections as I feel this works really well so might open a couple of spots initially for people with serious intentions of making 2017 their year. So if interested in this, please let me know.

If you are simply looking to hire an editor or someone to really critique your work then please do check out my website. It gets busy but I am happy to pencil you in for edits — a couple of spots still available for 2016 but then I am booking for 2017.

Check it out!

www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk 

So I wish you all an amazing weekend whatever you do… and remember if you want to give an unusual Christmas presie to a writer friend why not give them a gift card for a critique of a short story (2- 5000 words) ¬£50 including follow-up… or for shorter pieces up to 2000 ¬£25 and ¬†I will send a certificate and they can use it any time in 2017.

That is all!

life-is-about-moments-create-them-motivational-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures

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Stay Positive

I keep out of political discussion; I never expressed my Brexit view all over social media nor will I blog about Trump and what’s happening over in the US. While I live in Britain I have a deep connection to the US and hence my debut novel about Kennedy and my many trips over there and my many special friends. But what I will say is in this time of unrest and hate, stay focussed on what matters to you.

 

Yesterday I did not blog as I, like so many across the world, watched how the events of the election panned out and then, well  did what I always do, I wrote and then I went for my yoga class, which is a great way of keeping grounded. And then I had lunch with the man and then edited all afternoon.

 

Keep in mind what matters and let’s see what happens next. Yes it might be scary, and yes I am with you all on that one… but try to remain focussed and calm, if you can. That is all; please no political responses; that is not the purpose of this blog.

Love one another ‚̧ Do what you love ‚̧ Be with people you love. ‚̧ LOVE.

That is all.

 

And anyone wanting to read my novel who hasn’t yet… here it is! American flag and all!

Got yours yet?

Got yours yet?

BUY ME

UK

USA 

Have a good day folks. Find your peace.

If not… read my novel!

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Building on a Dream…

Here is a simple message. I have been thinking a lot about all my lovely clients and the way we often become friends. I feel as if we are all in a dream factory; we support one another towards our goals. It’s important to have those dreams — those things that get us out of bed in the morning. If we have no drive then we have no sense of purpose in life. So today¬†I am celebrating dreams and hopes and wishes. If anyone has ever knocked those down, said dreaming of being a writer (or whatever your dream) is all ‘pie in the sky’ use that anger to fuel your drive all the more.

It is not easy being a writer and rejection is part of that, but for every rejection you learn, you move forward, YOU MUST be receptive to criticism and take it as a place to learn from. If you believe: YOU WILL succeed.

Have a great Monday and an amazing week everyone!

dreams-1

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Friday Again

Where do the weeks go, it’s like God has reset all the clocks in the house and it can’t really be mid-October can it?

Yesterday we had no power and I had the oddest experience… at midnight; my dad standing in my room shining a torch in my face saying, “There is no power.” What? ”¬†The new boiler…” (only fitted Monday!) “… has leaked water all over the garage floor.” Oh. “And none of the power will come back on.” In my half-dazed state, I think I grunted and couldn’t help think the torch in my face was really from an alien and the apocalypse was upon us. Well, ¬†am reading The Girl With All The Gifts! Then he said, “So no point you getting up early as you can’t work, is there? Thought you needed to know.”

“Oh. Yeah. Thanks, Dad.” I think.

So that is why there was no post yesterday.

I got up at a ‘normal’ time, went to the gym, the man put me through my paces personal training me and boy can I feel it this morning. Then I took him out for a healthy lunch (a reward for hurting my muscles? Er…) as it would have been Lee’s birthday (in heaven eleven years next week) so I thought in an odd way, going out with the new man seemed a good thing to do… well you know what I mean. We toasted Lee with our slimline tonics. And when I came back we had power (boiler isolated) and ¬†being looked at, hopefully, fixed, tomorrow. So we don’t have heat but¬†thankfully it’s not that cold.

And so here I am today with power. We all have power.

The power to write. The power to be whatever we want to be. The power to live our dreams. And right now the power to look forward to another weekend. I will, of course, be working all day Sunday as I have three lovely mentoring clients at Cornerstones at the moment so have some chapters to read ūüôā as well as the other 7/8 novels all lined up and being edited on weekdays over the next few weeks. Did I tell you I love my writerly life? ūüėČ I have the power! Oh and my own writing in the mornings too of course!

So everyone, have a fantastic weekend, whatever you do.

Do you have the power?

Make-it-count

 

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Worst Points, Crises and Resolutions in Stories

Does your story have a ‘worst point’?¬†

And by this, I do not mean a part that reads worse than the rest, I mean a point when things could not get worse for your characters? This is a phrase used in screenwriting most commonly and represents the point in the story when you place your characters in maximum jeopardy. This is when your readers are on the edge… shouting at the TV, ¬†refusing to stop reading even though it’s passed midnight. This is not the quite the climax but a point before that when the protagonist appears to have failed in their mission; when the object of their desire that focusses the plot appears to me furthest from reach.

For story to work the central character must have an active goal and what are called the forces of antagonism¬†which present obstacles to attaining that goal. This is the point when all those forces come together. For story to work the character must make a choice at this point in order that he can continue to resolve the burning question of the story and this may well be the point when we see that ‘want’¬†shift to ‘need’ I talked about earlier in the week.

The worst point is actually the point when it seems impossible for the hero to succeed. Now he chooses and those flaws come into play. The cleverness of structure comes into play here for this to work… so this is the CRISIS and is the moment before the CLIMAX.

Think of the climax as the moment the hero finds release from the final inescapable predicament. This is when you engage with the dramatic need and overcome the flaw. This is a ‘must have’¬†scene and in film parlance is known as the ‘obligatory scene’. You have no story without it.

Here we get the pay-off that justifies the reader’s investment in the story. It’s very rare this is subverted and the hero dies although you will see this. e.g. the Coen Brothers¬†No Country for Old Men.¬†If you do kill the hero at the crisis point is has to be fo the greater good of the story and essential for its overall message to work.

Think of the inciting incident as being the question that created the story… what will happen? Think of the climax as being the point when you say: THIS.

The climax is usually too complex to be a single scene and so what follows is the denouement which really means to ‘untie’ so represents where you unravel and explain the threads even though you are really tying them up! Now this is the final pay-off of everything you set up.

You established a flawed character and a mission, you confronted them with obstacles (opposites), you turned want to need and resolved by restoring the balance!

The greater the drama between inciting incident and how this is resolved, the more dramatic tension you have!

And here endeth the lessons for this week on the craft of writing!

Have a wonderful weekend and see you Monday!

Dream it and it will be

 

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What a Character Wants and What a Character Needs

I have talked many times about how story comes from understanding and establishing right away what a character wants. This is established after the inciting incident that kick-starts the story proper. It sets up the premise of the story, the what if moment, the burning question the story sets out to answer, solve, resolve. So it provides the all-important motivation for action.

The object of that want can be a physical thing, a trophy, the holy grail — it will be to save, preserve or enhance the character’s world. It can be less tangible: success, revenge, love, self-esteem, survival, to protect family/home and in fact these latter ones are the most common in any story. Why? Because they are the things that matter the most and we can all relate to that.

If you don’t know what a character wants and what’s at stake if they don’t get it, you don’t have a story.

That thing they want, that thing they lack is the thing the story sets out to gain, and, and this is important,your antagonists, be them people or things that stand in the way of your protagonist’s desire (the obstacles of the story) MUST embody the qualities lacking in the protagonist.¬†

In all stories, a sense of security is breached at the inciting incident and the focus of the story becomes about restoring that.

But what adds layers is how we orchestrate change and to make stories three-dimensional that change is  essential.

What is powerful is when there is conflict between what a character wants and what they need. What they need becomes apparent later in the story.

A character seeks what they want but the events of the story¬†show them what they need. If what drives the story initially is want, an ego-driven goal, and this is abandoned for what they need — something more nourishing, essential, more important, then you will have a more powerful story.

The want should always be present at the beginning of the story: your hero wants to avenge the death of his sister, inciting incident she is killed by a drunk driver. This incident functions to awaken desire and we all relate to that need. What does he lack? Answers. Maybe he carries a sense of personal guilt for not keeping her safe. We have a story because he sets out to find those answers: fuelled by a need for revenge. I will stop at nothing until I see that driver as dead as my sister.

But what does he need? This becomes apparent later when we learn about the driver and perhaps we come to see that he needs to forgive himself and to forgive the driver and that he doesn’t want him dead. So he abandons what he wants for what he needs and we see his growth as a character. Does that make¬†sense?

In summary here is story:

Once upon a time in a certain place something happened (premise)… and because of that I am going to do this (story)… A character seeks what they want but in doing so ¬†realises what they need. But characters should not always get what they want — but should — if they deserve it — get what they need.

That is all. Look at your own work to see how you effect this and if it’s not strong enough, change the story.

Have a great day.

story shape

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