Inspired by Roderick Field’s Literary Transport series (new to the Paperie here), which references London bus signs and titles of classic novels, we thought we’d bring you some top notch tips on novel writing.
Having shaped the words of publications such as The Times, The Observer, Grazia, Stylist and the Huffington Post, journalist and writer, Anna Hart is now turning her hand to the creation of a novel. Here is what she had to say on getting started.
So, we’ve sharpened our pencils, what next?
The best place to start a novel is with a person. You should be on very familiar terms with at least one character before you put pen to paper. They don’t need to be the main character, but they need to be worth knowing, and you need to know them through and through.
Sounds good. How do you go about doing that?
I take this process of familiarisation to an extreme (why the hell not?) and sit with cut-outs from magazines, felt-tip pens and a scrapbook, until I’ve established what clothes are in this character’s wardrobe, what music is on their iPod and how they smell. You don’t need to put any of this information into the book, but you need to know it. The work pays off, because suddenly the character will start speaking to you; you’ll hear their response to events when you watch the news at ten, like an invisible flatmate. You’ll need their voice to guide you through the book.
What if there are too many voices all chatting at once?
I recommend going on a ‘reading diet’. Pick five or six titles which deal with similar themes to those you want to explore, or written in a style you admire and are hoping to emulate. Don’t read anything else. Generally speaking I’m a very broad reader, but I’ve learned that reading an author with a very different style to my own blows me off course whilst I’m writing a novel. Exposing yourself to a mishmash of influences is a bit like putting far too many ingredients in a stew. You need to keep your intentions clear and simple.
Thanks so much Anna, we’re inspired and ready to WRITE….