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04 Aug

Guest blog: ‘Novel in A Year’ by Mike Leadley

This last year I did a thing. For many, the last eighteen months has either driven creativity or driven it out – for me it was the latter. Luckily, I had signed up for Jenny Kane’s ‘Novel in a Year’ course before the world changed. I’ve known Jenny for a number of years and have done some of her workshops previously, so I was excited to have the opportunity to pick her brain some more; and with the Writers’ Studio, to also find more writer folk in the area.

Jenny covered many aspects of writing. We worked out how many words you’d have to do a day (allowing for time off) to complete a novel in the timescale. It’s surprisingly not that many – 300 to 400 a day is all. We worked on characters in ways I would not have thought of (I got a really good scene from this which is actually usable and puts the character I used in a place I’d never have considered!), covered aspects of editing, writing speech, beginnings, endings, story structure, and all the bits between. As well as what comes after you have done the first draft, your edits, and are ready to unleash your work upon the world.

We knew that most of the sessions were going to be on Zoom before the pandemic, so in the most part the course went as expected – the only in person sessions were meant to be the first and last. The first we did on Zoom, but we did manage to get a small close session for the final (unfortunately there had been some positive test results ☹). These remote sessions worked really well, as it allowed us to be in our writing space, not somewhere strange. This was a bonus for me as I can sometimes struggle to settle and write in a new setting. 

The main question people will want to have an answer to: did I write a novel in a year? Well… no is the simple answer to that! The last session I was even using a totally different piece of work from what I started with. But other people in the group did though which is the most awesome thing there is! Jenny was quick to reassure us everyone works at their own pace, and this is normal, which is why it’s something that is addressed early on.

Will I write a novel in the next year? Maybe. I have a lot of ideas and half-finished things in my WIP folder; the bit I switched to towards the end of the course was only meant to be a short story! Only my characters are bad, bad people and this is looking like a novella or even novel length work. So… ask me how it’s going in another twelves months!

Regardless of my outcome, I highly recommend doing Jenny’s course, even if you have been doing the writing things for years and have been to more writing workshops than you can shake a stick at. So, thanks to the crew at NWS, and to Jenny, for this awesome course.

Oh, and a trigger warning. Jenny uses the Comic Sans font.

Mike has been creating unfinished manuscripts for around 25 years and has now amassed a nice sized collection. Mainly in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Find him on twitter @mikeleadley or the web at https://www.anarna.org

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