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Live webchat with author and creative-writing tutor Louise Doughty, TODAY, Thursday, 10 May at 12noon

(78 Posts)
PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-May-12 10:46:15

We are delighted that Louise Doughty, author of Whatever You Love (shortlisted for the Costa Fiction prize) and A Novel in a Year, will be joining us at MNHQ this Thursday to talk about her own writing experiences and what it takes to be a novelist while juggling two school aged children with no childcare. Louise is also a highly experienced tutor of creative writing and happy to take questions about everything from the value of taking a creative writing course (she's teaching one of our first Mumsnet Academy courses with author of One Day, David Nicholls) to the publishing process and getting your novel published.

Alongside writing highly acclaimed novels, Louise has written for radio and broadcast, writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph (Short Story Club), is a regular on BBC Radio 4, and was a judge of the Man Booker Prize in 2008. There's not much Louise doesn't know about writing so please join us this Thursday at 12 midday, and if you are unable to join us, please post a question on this thread in advance.

grin I DO live in small village in the Cotswolds!shock Spooky...

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 12:46:18

LouiseDoughty

Snowtiger

Hi Louise
Thanks for answering my first question - if Patrick's still in the loo can I ask another? There's a lot of talk (here & in general) about MAs in CW but is it possible to write a good novel without doing an MA? I have looked into a few near me but am not only terrified at the prospect of applying, I also have no idea how I would afford the course or fit in the work / study around school hours. Should I find a way to do it or just get on with writing?

Hi Snowtiger,
He's back but he's in a good mood, he'll let us off. Lots of interest in MAs on this thread but do think about short courses too. Yes, loads of brilliant novels get written without MAs - without knowing you, my suggestion would be, write as much as you can on your own, but if you find you're grinding to a halt or reach the point of needing feedback, consider a course then. Having a bit of structured support is great, but it's no substitute for working on your own - which we all have to do anyway.
Louise

Hi Snowtiger, as I'm here and Louise is being rather modest, I going to shamelessly plug her forthcoming Mumsnet Academy course with David Nicholls which we are doing in partnership with the Faber Academy. She is an amazing teacher of creative writing and has helped countless students over the years overcome structural problems and develop as novelists. Often an intensive, short course can be really helpful. Worth checking out maybe. Plug over!!

LouiseDoughty Thu 10-May-12 12:46:55

writerknights

Louise, this info is quick, fast and making me smile. Your fingers must be on fire! wink

I'm a fast typer - all those years as a secretary before I started writing novels. I also have osteo-arthritis in both wrists, though, quelle surprise!

Cwm Thu 10-May-12 12:47:38

Hi Patrick, since you've mentioned the course, do you have any plans to offer it in any other locations? I'd love to do it but really can't get to London sad

LouiseDoughty Thu 10-May-12 12:47:44

FannyPriceless

grin I DO live in small village in the Cotswolds!shock Spooky...

Seriously??? I'm not stalking you, I promise...

I am just dialling 999 now about the weird writer-lady.wink

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 12:49:29

Cwm

Hi Patrick, since you've mentioned the course, do you have any plans to offer it in any other locations? I'd love to do it but really can't get to London sad

Hi Cwm, YES is the honest answer and we hope to announce these soon. Drop me an email with your details and I'll keep you posted. Where are you based?

BornSicky Thu 10-May-12 12:49:48

Hi Louise,

I've written a few radio plays, but struggle to find a market, other than Radio 4 (which has cut radio drama quite severly!) What other possible outlets are there for radio dramas now?

Cwm Thu 10-May-12 12:50:55

Patrick, I'm in the North West, I'd be very interested in a course near me! Will drop you an e-mail - thank you!

LouiseDoughty Thu 10-May-12 12:52:12

jongleuse

Hi Louise, I've done a couple of short courses and am doing an MA part-time currently while working 3 days a week and with one child at school and one at preschool. I love writing, there's little that makes me happier than a few hours of writing that have gone well, but despair that I'm ever going to finish even a first draft of a first novel (about 35 000 words in to a YA thing) Weekends and evenings are a write-off (ha ha) children housework etc.
How on earth have you managed it?

Hi jongleuse,
You really have my sympathy and solidarity - a job and a preschooler and an MA? It is HEROIC that you're getting any writing done at all. The pre-school years were so difficult - I shudder at the memory of how sleep-deprived and chaotic my life was then. It does get dramatically better when they are both in school - a whole six hours open up. I think you should regard any small step forward as progress and don't despair. Once they are in school, that ultra-hard stage suddenly seems to have gone so quickly. I was lucky to have published two novels before I had my first child, so at least I wasn't trying to combine another job with children and with novel-writing. That's a really tough tripple whammy...
Louise

Grace29 Thu 10-May-12 12:52:22

Thanks Louise. You're right. I just need to be brave, and if it doesn't work out, then I can always stop.

mummymargot Thu 10-May-12 12:52:34

Hi Louise, what are your tips for writing a synopsis? How long should it be? What should it include? Is there a standard expectation of how it should be written?

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 12:53:39

Cwm

Patrick, I'm in the North West, I'd be very interested in a course near me! Will drop you an e-mail - thank you!

Please do and good luck with the writing!

LouiseDoughty Thu 10-May-12 12:54:02

BornSicky

Hi Louise,

I've written a few radio plays, but struggle to find a market, other than Radio 4 (which has cut radio drama quite severly!) What other possible outlets are there for radio dramas now?

Hi BornSicky,
Very few, sadly. Radio 3 does the occasional play - and maybe Radio 4 Xtra is mopping up some of the axed slots from Radio 4. Could any of your radio dramas convert to tv or stage? It's very difficult to break into those fields of course but worth a try...
Louise

jongleuse Thu 10-May-12 12:54:31

Thanks so much Louise for answering all our questions and so graciously! Back to the day job now (quickly minimises MNet window)

BornSicky Thu 10-May-12 12:56:26

Hi Louise,

thanks. Hadn't considered Radio 3, but tis a good idea.

I am considering TV adaptation at present, but I prefer radio/stage as writing processes.

chessa Thu 10-May-12 12:56:58

hi louise ,

How would you go about choosing an agent, Ive been told that writers and artist handbook is good for this ?

any tips

LouiseDoughty Thu 10-May-12 12:56:59

mummymargot

Hi Louise, what are your tips for writing a synopsis? How long should it be? What should it include? Is there a standard expectation of how it should be written?

Hi mummymargot,
If you're writing a synopsis to show an agent or publisher, I would always advise keeping it down to one page - unless you're asked for a longer one. I find them really tricky so-and-so's... I think it's because it's very hard to show off your prose style - you're just aiming for the kind of transparent prose that communicates a story, so you can't really show them what you're made of. Keeping it very simple and practical is good: name your characters, describe the plot clearly (it's ok not to give away the ending) and don't go on too much about the themes of your book. Hope that helps...
Louise

LouiseDoughty Thu 10-May-12 12:59:18

chessa

hi louise ,

How would you go about choosing an agent, Ive been told that writers and artist handbook is good for this ?

any tips

Hi Chessa,
Writers & Artists is a good starting point but once you've looked through some names, it's essential to check the agency out: go on their website, see who they represent, read the work written by their other authors, and, crucially, follow their submission criteria to the letter. You'd be amazed how many people send their work to an agent without doing any research at all - children's book to agents that don't do them, whole manuscripts to agents who specify first chapter only. If you're sensible and do what they ask, that instantly puts you towards the top of that submission pile.
Louise

Snowtiger Thu 10-May-12 12:59:24

Thanks Patrick, will investigate the course!

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 12:59:54

Last question anyone?

mummymargot Thu 10-May-12 13:00:17

Thank you, that is very helpful - much appreciated

Snowtiger Thu 10-May-12 13:00:24

And thanks Louise, I feel really encouraged by what you've said to us all. Only 2 and a half years til both of mine are at school...!

writerknights Thu 10-May-12 13:00:27

I think it's time for a hale and hearty Round of applause. Now, where's that round of applause emoticon? I guess these will have to suffice - wine brew wine brew wine brew!

PatrickMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 13:02:27

A huge thanks to Louise for so much brilliant advice and honest insight. Thanks also to everyone who posted their questions.

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