After my novel Strange Nervous Laughter was published in South Africa and the US, people were constantly asking me how to write a book and – perhaps even more than the actual writing how to find the motivation to finish. I wanted to create a platform for this.
What are you hoping people will get out of Now Novel?
A supportive, motivating space that helps them improve their writing and follow through on their novel writing dream. The end goal? A finished first draft.
There are various packages available for people wanting to use Now Novel. Can you tell us a little about what each package offers? Is there a minimum term you’d need to sign up for?
Basic access to the website (including our critiques system for giving and receiving writing feedback and our writing groups) is free. We have three paid options. The first, ‘The DIY Writer’, is our plan for writers who don’t want personalized help. It includes the Now Novel Story Builder, our online tool and step by step process for working out a blueprint for your story. If you need extra motivation, our middle tier plan, The Aspiring Novelist, includes having a mentor whom you can correspond with via email for extra help and motivation. Our top tier plan, The Experienced Writer, is ideal for writers who are serious about getting their novels written. It includes biweekly Skype calls with your mentor and editing of 3000 words of your writing per month by professional editors.
You can pay for any of the three plans month on month, if you prefer, or you can pay for a six or twelve month package that provides a substantial discount on the usual monthly rate. There’s also a 30 day money back guarantee on all our plans.
What elements do you feel need to be in place before beginning a novel?
Creating a regular writing routine is especially helpful and it’s something your mentor can help you achieve. The saying ‘How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece’ applies: A novel is a mammoth undertaking so planning and working out how many words you need to draft per week to finish according to your schedule is useful. Other than that, having a supportive framework in place for getting feedback on your writing is important for improving your work as you go and making revision as easy as possible. It’s also vital to have the determination to follow through on the task at hand writing a novel sounds really romantic but it’s actually pretty hard work, so you have to be serious about it.
What advice do you have for someone who has maybe finished their novel and is not quite sure what to do next?
First I would strongly recommend employing a professional editor. Editors have experience in getting novel manuscripts into the best possible shape for publication. Work out what genre category or categories your book falls under and make a shortlist of publishers who accept manuscript submissions. View their websites and note their preferred submission formats and subject matter. Submit to as many as possible. Often having an agent is helpful as agents have connections in the book world that your average aspiring writer most often doesn’t. Having an agent can be expensive, though.
If you’re planning to selfpublish, you’ll need to do a lot of work that publishers would ordinarily arrange, including typesetting, cover design and additional work promoting your book.
What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals?
The most important thing for me is consistency. I really believe that creativity shows up when you offer it a space every day. I used to think that writing for 3 hours a day was the goal, but now that I have a child that’s pretty hard to find! Even 30 minutes a day can be enough to spark the creative juices if you work on it every day… As for writing rituals, as long as I have a quiet space and a cup of tea, I’m happy!
Which part of the writing process do you find most enjoyable and which part not so much?
I absolutely love the initial creating – pouring the words on the page, creating characters and seeing where they lead me. The editing part is less fun for me because it’s a more analytical process, and I find it quite tricky to be analytical about my own work. Perhaps I need a mentor to help me 😉
We’ve made the interface as intuitive and userfriendly as possible. The Story Builder is a sequence of questions and prompts that guide you through conceptualising your plot, themes, characters, story arc and more. This is what you see first on your dashboard when you log in, along with your current progress. You can also save ‘Scribbles’, snippets of your work that you can submit for critique by other members of the Now Novel community, either publically (within the private area of the website) or anonymously. Our writing groups feature lets you connect with writers who share your particular interests or challenges: it’s a space to chat about anything you like that’s writingrelated, as well as view and respond to each other’s critique submissions.
Is there a fictional character you’d like to meet and why?
I think about The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt a lot (one of my favourite books of recent times) and I would so love to meet Hobie, the loveable antiques dealer. Ideally in his antique store, with a cup of tea!
Your five pieces of advice for new writers?
Put in place a routine that helps you stay productive. Priming your creativity to emerge at a set time on a set day can make ideas flow easier than if you write intermittently.
Try not to be anxious about writing beautiful phrases and getting everything ‘perfect’ during the drafting stage you can polish and edit a bad page at any time but you can’t polish a blank one.
Sign up for a writing mentor who will keep you focused on your targets and provide helpful advice when you feel stuck or are grappling with a particular aspect of your story or craft.
Join a writing community that will support you and help you improve your work.
Read, read, read. It’s important to let yourself be inspired by other writers. A single line of prose or poetry can spark the ideas for entire sections of your novel.
Bridget McNulty is a writer and an editor. She’s a published fiction author, a magazine editor, a features writer, an online editor and a blogger. She’s dabbled in every kind of writing – features, websites, blogs, tweets, audio tours and more. She is also a founder of http://www.nownovel.com
You can also find her at https://bridgetmcnulty.contently.com