The idea that creative writing cannot be taught seems to be challenged by recent history. The creative writing course at Norwich, for instance, has produced authors including Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan and Andrew Miller; the latest attempt to impart the "rules of fiction" is Newnovelist--Start Writing Your Novel
, a CD-ROM designed to assist the aspiring writer's learning curve.
Newnovelist aims to help writers hone their ideas, guiding them first to select the concept of their book, and then its category--be it an epic narrative, plot-driven or character-driven. After further honing the idea into a type of story (whether the tale is driven by a chase motif or revenge, for instance) the package gives tutorials on essential elements in creating the atmosphere of the novel and helping to picture the world that the characters inhabit. The final stage is to move from this to the creation of the story itself, with advice on the passages that will be necessary to realise the world and the characters successfully.
There is much that is valuable here in terms of plot and character, but some elements of the package are less helpful, particularly the section that asks the writer to give a one-line summary of their proposed book--nothing is more infuriating or awkward for an author than being asked to describe their book in half a dozen words. There is also no concentration on the importance of writing from inspiration and experience, and scant reference to the significance of prose style; in the end, without these elements, NewNovelist--Start Writing Your Novel can only be a piecemeal addition to the growing "industry" of teaching creative writing, although its tips on character and plot may well be helpful to some. --Toby Green
Newnovelist takes you on a journey. It harnesses your creativity, and helps you write your own novel.
By providing you with story creation steps, newnovelist breaks the writing process down into manageable chunks. You are provided with suggestions on how to use the steps, and the tempo to adopt; the degree of suspense to maintain, even the amount of time you might use for each element of your story. It prompts and suggests so you are never left alone with a blank screen or sheet of paper. You can keep track of notes that you make yourself, and store research notes and references that are easy to retrieve.
You can do all of this in the knowledge that newnovelist is maintaining a coherent plan for your story. The software provides you with freedom of expression that you want, within a logical framework that you need. So you can focus creativity and energy on the storytelling, and let us worry about structure.
Start a novel today. Start a dozen. Develop one character or a thousand. The only limit is your imagination!