Elsie Granthier | Writer Support Assistant | Jericho Writers

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Hi there, I'm Elsie! I'm one of the writer support assistants at Jericho, and I also work within the events team. 

I love writing, reading, and finding out more about the publishing industry. I have a never-ending pile of books that I want to read, and I'm always happy to give book recommendations - you can check out my bookstagram for reviews and my book blog for author interviews and publishing insights. 

Looking for something new to read? Check out some of my recent favourite books: 

  • Tall Bones by Anna Bailey (titled Where The Truth Lies in the US) 
  • Boy Parts by Eliza Clarke 
  • In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado 
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper 
  • Shocked Earth by Saskia Goldschmidt, tr. by Antoinette Fawcett
  • A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
  • Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson 

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Every year, writers around the globe do something completely terrifying: they try to write a novel in 30 days. This year, I’m joining them!  

For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here’s how it works:  

  • 30 days  
  • A 50,000-word count target  
  • 1667 words to write a day  

The aim is to walk away with 50,000 words of novel that you didn’t have before. If you hit  50,000 words, you're a winner! How does waking up on December 1st with 50,000 words under your belt sound? To me, it sounds like exactly what I need...  

I’m around 7,000 words into a novel that I started working on in July. I work full time, have a social life (believe it or not!), and I still have to find the time to cook, eat, and generally be a functioning human being. All of this is not conducive to finding writing time!  

So how am I going to magically have the time to write every day in November? My suspicion is that the time was there all along – and that NaNoWriMo is just going to help me commit to it.  

For me, there are three components to a successful NaNoWriMo:  

  • Accountability 
  • Incentive
  • Schedule

Accountability is what I’m doing here. By writing this post, I’m saying that if I don’t get 50k words down in November, you’re all allowed to tell me off. Jericho members will be given complimentary rotten produce to throw at me. Hopefully, though, this will make sure that I do hit the target! Publicly committing to a goal makes you much more likely to achieve it - it shows you’re taking your goal seriously and, in this case, a little peer pressure won’t hurt!  

However, I know that’s not quite incentive enough. So, I’ll be making sure that I have rewards for hitting my goals. From the very simple ‘you’re not allowed to shower until you’ve written X number of words’ to not letting myself listen to Christmas music (which I already kind of want to put on) until I’ve hit 50k, having rewards to look forward to will keep my brain on track.  

But neither of these work without the most important ingredient: schedule. Saying ‘I’m going to write today’ is seldom as effective as saying ‘I’m going to write for an hour at 6pm today’ - unless you schedule the time in, something else is always going to take priority.  

I’ve made it slightly easier for myself by booking annual leave for the first week of November. My plan is to get ahead on my word count in the first week so that it’s not the end of the world if some days I just don’t have the time to write. Once I’m back at work, I’m hoping to write from 8am-9am, something that might feel horrendous when my alarm goes off but is something I’ll have to commit to if I want a finished draft – which I really really do! 

Doing NaNoWriMo this year? Considering it? Why not sign up for our free, OPEN TO ALL, event on Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo? On October 25th, join Elizabeth Haynes, Rachel Herron, and our very own Sarah Juckes as they reveal just how to reach the mighty 50,000-word target...  

Join our community group for NaNoWriMo 2021 here. Writing alongside other people is sure to keep your motivation up!  

How are you going to stay accountable, be incentivised, and create a schedule? Will you use these tips to complete NaNoWriMo, or just to keep your writing on track? Let me know in the comments!  

Hey guys, really sorry for the inconvenience - we're having imaging issues at the moment. We've escalated this to our site provider and will keep you guys updated. 

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For many of us, as the world opens up again, it’s become increasingly harder to find the time to read. While I’ve always considered myself a big reader, I’ve recently realised that I had so much more time to read in the past year than any other. Now I’m squeezing my reading in on trains, in my lunch break, and as I cook – narrowly avoiding dropping books into my frying pan! But why am I doing this? Two reasons:  

  1. I love reading stories and the way they make me feel.  
  2. I write my own stories – and I know just how much I can learn from fellow writers.  

In my last post (here’s Reading like a writer part 1, if you missed it!), I talked to you about the importance of reading like a writer to get a grasp on how writers perfect plot, character, and prose. There’s still so much more that books can teach us – so let’s talk about how to read with an eye on dialogue, setting, and voice.  

Reading for dialogue  

I know I’m capable of having a conversation in real life (in fact, usually you can’t shut me up!), but it’s so hard to write realistic dialogue that doesn’t slow the pace of the story.  

This is why I suggest reading dialogue in published books. While reading, ask yourself:  

  • Is it lifelike?  
  • Does it drive the plot forward?  
  • Does it give an insight into each character?  

By seeing how other writers construct and pace their dialogue, you’ll be well on your way to writing dialogue that doesn’t make you want to scream.  

Learn from: A play or screenplay of your choice. (By reading a form of writing that is so reliant on dialogue you’ll learn from the best!) 

Reading for setting 

Setting is vital for creating an unforgettable atmosphere for your reader. Whether your novel is set in an open plan office or an open plain, your reader needs to live your characters’ experience.  

Open a book and note down how the author uses the five senses. Can you see, smell, hear, touch, even taste the place they’re describing? How does the place make you feel? How does it work with the subject matter of the novel? Is it a beautiful place that contrasts with a horrific crime that occurs? Or a place that exemplifies the themes of the novel? Then, think – how can you make your setting work for you?  

Learn from: Shocked Earth by Saskia Goldschmidt, translated by Antoinette Fawcett. (Set on a Dutch farm shocked by earthquakes, the setting is beautifully described and carefully intertwined with the narrative.)  

Reading for voice  

Voice is all about the unique way you tell your story – so how can you learn about it from other writers? Well, voice is a complex thing, and learning how an author translates a character’s traits into a distinctive voice can only help you on the way.  

When reading, note down what you notice about the voice. Does the author use long or short sentences? Is there impact of an accent or dialect? Is there a recurring theme in the way a narrator describes things?  

Then, revisit the list and ask yourself why the author has done this. Does an impulsive narrator use short, sharp lines? Or does an overly analytical character use meandering sentences? By examining the voice of other writers, you should have some inspiration on how to create a unique voice of your own!  

Learn from: Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. (The novel has 5 different narrators – each of whom are immediately distinctive from just a line of writing in their voice. Washburn uses dialect and verbal quirks, based on the character’s personality, to differentiate between voices.)  

Tell me what you’re reading at the moment – what have you learned? Is the dialogue lifelike? Can you imagine yourself in the setting? Is the voice so distinctive that you can almost hear the narrator talking directly to you?  

Remember, we’re always happy to chat about writing, so do drop an email to info@jerichowriters.com with any questions!  

I wish I could think of a pair of rhyming debut authors! Some of my favourite recent debuts are Anna Bailey and of course our very own Sophie Flynn!

Want to second this as another one of the readers - there were so many excellent entries that unfortunately we couldn't take forward to the longlist. Every entry had promise, and I'm excited to see where everyone's writing journey takes them! 

Catherine - I'm sorry to hear this! Drop us an email at info@jerichowriters.com with your submission & phone number, and we'll get this entered for you. You shouldn't have to miss out due to tech issues - and you never know, our readers might absolutely love it! xx 

I've actually not read any of those - but I've read Americanah by the same author of Half of a Yellow Sun and absolutely loved it - that one is a masterclass in character development over time! So glad to hear that reading like a writer is a useful tool for you! 

Sounds like Mark was a brilliant walking companion! Definitely a great tip, thanks for sharing! 

Hi Catherine - having to do something for a grade can often strip the fun out of it! After I finished my Literature degree I didn't read a book for quite a while... 

My main tip would be to take the pressure off yourself - you're not doing this for anyone but yourself! Go to read a book with the intention of reading and nothing else. Then, just note down sentences that you like as you go along. Don't worry about analysing them in the moment, you can go back to them when you fancy it. 

Alternatively, why don't you revisit some of your favourite books and approach them in a very analytical way? You already know them, so it's not as though you're missing out on the joy of reading! You could map out their plot, write character profiles for them (I find writing character profiles for other characters, or even people I know in real life, a good way to jog my memory and inspire traits I might want to use for my own characters!), etc. 

I hope this helps! Best of luck with your reading and your writing! 

It really is amazing to study books and see how much thought has gone into them, how stylistically different they are etc. Ooh, that looks like a really intriguing series!

I've not heard of it before but had a Google and it looks brilliant! And thank you so much, I enjoyed writing it! 

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Elsie Granthier | Writer Support Assistant | Jericho Writers
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