The new way to write a novel

After four published novels, I found myself feeling slightly ‘disconnected’, even misanthropic. Ten years of writing on your own does curious things to you. It becomes hard to judge your own work. You can’t show it to friends or family for all sorts of reasons. (1. If she likes it — you think she’s just saying it. 2. If he doesn’t like it at all — you think you might not like him very much anymore. 3. Your best friend thinks that the woman in the story with the drink problem is her.

So you work in the dark, but nothing grows in the dark.

All you need is a smart concept and an engaging cast, you know that much. The plot can work itself out. You need a visual of the big scene for two-thirds into the novel, but that’s it. So, you start work.

You work for months patiently and diligently. Alone. Months become years. You play pin the tail on the donkey. You’ve become a bit bored with it yourself. So you try adding in lots of different concepts, deleting characters and plotlines wildly. Then a few months after you’ve finished it, when the dust settles, you take it out of the drawer and read it like a reader. And you’re still none the wiser.

After slogging away for a couple of years on a novel to then get some cryptic feedback from one person — your agent can be depressing. (‘This sort of thing isn’t selling right now. Can you write a thriller?’) So much work, and nothing to show for it. Yet in every other arena of life you get to work on things collaboratively. That’s how things get better, by working with other people.

Publishers and agents are aloof ivory tower dwellers, disinclined to give anything more than a thin, standard, uniform response to your work.

So I set up Kritikme to help writers get feedback faster and fiction writing coaching, from their peers — from writers — and use the platform to improve their work quickly.

‘All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ Ernest Hemingway.

Join the site. Send us some of your writing. Let’s get to work.