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Make Your Novel Shine: all the posts I mentioned at the Words Away Salon

All the posts I mentioned at the Historical Novel Society Conference 2016

... and some that I didn't but which might be useful. And apologies for the blog being silent, lately - normally August is a quiet month for work, with plenty of blogging time, but this one's been very busy, not least because of HNS16, but also because we've been planning a new series of evening events for writers in London: the Words Away Salons.  Normal(ish) service should resume at some point between the York Festival of Writing, next weekend, and my workshop at the Harrogate History Festival towards the end of October.

HNSOxford16, in Oxford for the first time, was a great weekend gathering together readers and writers of historical fiction: the multi-bestselling, the veteran, the debutantes, the self-published, the passionate readers who have more sense than to try to write the stuff, and quite a few people like me, who not only write the stuff, but spend a lot of time in among the How and What of writing it. You can download a free sample-chapter of my latest book, Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction here, and via the same link you can click through to buy the book itself from a range of sellers; it's by no means only suitable for beginners, or indeed only historical fictioneers. 

As ever, a lot of what I was saying in the Point-of-View masterclass with James Aitcheson, the panel discussion on Love Stories, with Jane Johnson, Iona Grey, Vanessa Lafaye and Eileen Ramsey, and from the audience (not to mention over coffee, or dinner, or while strolling or scuttling to and from workshops), finished off with "I have done a blog post about that". So here are the links, and if you're looking for one that I haven't mentioned, do say so in the comments and I'll try to dig it up. Most of these are in the Tool-Kit section of the blog, but there's a lot more in there these days, so you might like to click through there, too.

POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 1: the basics : what point of view is, what a narrator is, and why it matters

POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 2: internal narrators : character-narrators who narrate in first person

POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 3: external narrators : limited, switching and privileged point of view in narrators who narrate in third person

POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 4: moving point of view and other stories : how to work with a moving point of view, second-person narrators and other stuff

PSYCHIC DISTANCE: what it is and how to use it : a key technique, not much discussed and not hard to grasp.

FREE INDIRECT STYLE : what it is and how to use it : the huge advantage we have over the playwrights and scriptwriters, so why wouldn't you exploit all the things it can do?

HOW TO MOVE POINT OF VIEW : not just between chapters, but in a single sentence. And why (as long as you do it well) no one can tell you it's not allowed.

PAST AND PRESENT TENSE : the pros and cons of both : the different issues that arise with first and third person for each tense, and why the new creative writing orthodoxy is wrong

GETTING FROM ONE SCENE TO THE NEXT : jump-cut or narrated slide? Doof-d00f-doof ending then crash landing, or taking the reader there in stages?

FORTUNATELY-UNFORTUNATELY : how stopping your characters from staying on the same track powers the story-engine and keeps your reader reading

"THE SHIP IS ALWAYS TRYING TO GET SOMEWHERE" : How to think and plot to maintain the drive of your narrative

ANDREW STANTON'S TED TALK : the Pixar scriptwriter/director dispenses the purest gold wisdom about storytelling in any medium.

WHEN DO YOU STOP WORLD-BUILDING? : how much is too much, how much is not enough?

HOW TO MAKE A GOOD, QUIET, PUT-UPON CHARACTER STILL DRIVE A STORY? : Jerusha Cowless, This Itch of Writing's Agony Aunt

HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF AN EDITORIAL SERVICE : how can you make the most of professional editorial help

And here are some links which might be useful or interesting specifically for Hist Fickers:

WHAT COUNTS AS HISTORICAL FICTION? : We talk about it all the time, but what is historical fiction, for the reader, the writer or the industry?

IS YOUR HISTORICAL FICTION ACTUALLY LIFE-WRITING, or VICE_VERSA? : When you're seized with passion for a real historical character, how should you write it?

EARNING A LIVING FROM WRITING : what works, what doesn't

ITCHY READERS RECOMMEND HISTORICAL FICTION : while ago I ran a competition, asking people to recommend historical fiction (strictly not their own) which wasn't just enjoyable, but which any of us could learn from. The competition is now closed but, as I knew it would be knowing my wonderful Itchy readers, the list is terrific. If you were moved to add a recommendation of your own, that would be just lovely!

More about my novels, The Mathematics of Love and A Secret Alchemy, on my main author website

More about my mentoring, teaching and editorial services, This Itch of Writing: the studio, on my dedicated website

The online course Self-Editing Your Novel, which I developed and co-taught with Debi Alper. There's more about it on Debi's blog here: these days she does most of the day-to-day feedback and I take an overview of each week, as we go. As numbers are very strictly limited, it does get very booked up, so it's worth booking early if you can, to avoid being disappointed.

That's it for now!