Ten Things To Know About Being Published
Being Published 9: Book Prizes

All the posts I mentioned at York Festival of Writing

I'm home from the York Festival of Writing and the dust is settling. As ever, it was a wonderful weekend put together by Jericho Writers, full of writers of fiction and non-fiction at every stage, from beginners to multi-best-sellers and - always one of the highlights - a reunion of several dozen of Debi Alper's and my lovely graduates from the online Self-Editing Your Novel course, including one of the keynote speakers, million-selling Cathy Bramley, and one of the exciting debuts of last year, Amanda Berriman.

Old friend Ruth Ware was another keynote speaker and I devoured her The Death of Mrs Westaway on the train home: it was the perfect absorbing, thoughtful, deliciously tense and twisty page-turner. Ruth and I first met, as unpublished writers, in one of the early writing forums, along with the likes of Jenn Ashworth, Caroline Green, Roger Morris, Leila Rasheed, Essie Fox and Sarah Stovell. These friends - the equivalent of your beloved old muckers from the ante-natal group or your shared student house - are the ones who have, and who will yet, see you through ups, downs, submissions hell and the whole extraordinary process of Being Published. As Hilary Mantel has said, every time you begin a new novel you're back at the bottom of the mountain, and these are the ones who can say - because they were there - that you will make it to the top, because you did last time. And meanwhile, have some rum, an ice-axe, and a second woolly hat. Although fairly soon, no doubt, they'll be borrowing it all back for themselves... 

We must be the first generation to make our key writerly friendships online, but that's not the only way, even in these digital times, and it was lovely to see our modern equivalents bonding over the University of York's bacon-and-eggs, sharing paper for the workshop, empathising with horrible rejections and joining the ecstasy of a really good one-to-one with an agent or editor

And, in the nature of things, at many moments during the Book Lab on Psychic Distance, the workshop on Memoir, Creative Life Writing & (Auto)biographical fiction, during the one-to-ones and in dozens of informal conversations in the bar, by the lake, while hoofing it over the bridge to Central Hall for a keynote, or in the taxi back to the station, I mentioned that I'd blogged about... well, all sorts of things.

So here are links to the blog posts I remember mentioning. For all of these, and many more, click through to The Tool Kit. For specifically Historical Fiction help, click through to Dr Darwin's Writing Tips, over at Historia Magazine.

If I've missed one or you didn't manage to write the details down, (maybe because, you know, non-London student bar prices...)  do say so in the comments and I'll try to dig it up. And if you couldn't get to York or didn't know it existed, but might be able to get to another event, click through to my website for more about those.

PSYCHIC DISTANCE: what it is and how to use it : also called narrative distance; an extraordinarily useful way of thinking, which is responsible for more lightbulb moments in my students than everything else put together.

FREEWRITING : What it is, how to do it, and all the many ways it's useful for a writer

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?

SHOWING AND TELLING: the basics : how to use both to make your story do everything you want it to do.

HOW SHOWING AND TELLING CO-OPERATE : why you need both, and how they work together

HOW TO TELL, AND STILL SHOW : how to get on with the story without sacrificing vividness

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

WRITING A SCENE : when to Show/Evoke/Dramatise, when to Tell/Inform/Summarise, and how to work with both to control how your reader experiences the scene.

NON-LINEAR NARRATIVES : what they are, whether to use one, and how to make it work

CREATE THE READER YOU NEED : you can make the novel work however you want, as long as you get the reader to read it the way you need them too

YOUR BOOK, YOUR RULES, BUT MAKE SOME  : more on how to make sure your book works in a consistent way - and save yourself some effort too

MAKING THE RULES: Physics and Fell : a guest post by Jenn Ashworth, about working out how to tell your story, then how to get the reader to learn how to read it


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

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.

CIRCLES OF CONSCIOUSNESS : a more useful and sophisticated way of thinking about point-of-view and psychic distance, and how to use it to best effect

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?

DANGLING PARTICIPLES AND MODIFIERS : what they are, how they happen, and how to sort them out.

WRITING DIALOGUE : how do it well, how to make it better

DESCRIPTION : how to stop your descriptions being slabs of scene setting, and turn them into storytelling

TACKLING REVISIONS AND EDITS : feeling as if you've got to eat an elephant, and your spoon is too small? Here's help.

"FILTERING": HD for your writing : an unhelpful name for the single, simplest way to revise your writing into greater vividness.

FILTERING, SCAFFOLDING & HOW TO PERFORM AN EXPLAIN-ECTOMY : more about how to get rid of the extra clutter which is blurring and smudging your story's impact.

HISTORICAL NOVEL? BIOGRAPHY? When is your life writing actually historical fiction, or vice versa?

CREATIVE NON-FICTION : including memoir, life writing, travel writing. What is it, and are you writing it? 

BEING PUBLISHED : the full series. (Except for the last one, on prizes, because I haven't got round to it yet!) Each post explains the practicalities of that part of the publishing process, but also explores the sometimes peculiar ways that they can affect you and your writing.