Writing The Square – Rosie Millard

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By Rosie Millard

I am now the proud author of The Square, my first novel which has been published by Legend Press and which came out on August 1. I wrote this novel when I was on the UEA/Guardian fiction writing Masterclass, which I attended every Tuesday night for about six months in 2013. ♥

I arrived at the class with nothing but a title – The Square – and knowing that I was going to write a commercial comedy based on a London garden square. That I live on a London garden square was not a coincidence – I wanted to write about what I knew, because I have a day job (as a journalist) and I wouldn’t have had time to research a whole new world or go back in the past.

There were eight of us on the course, so four of us presented a piece of writing every week, which for me meant a chapter. I would try and write 1000 words a day, every day, and when I had achieved 80,000 words I stopped. Because I am a journalist and write every day anyway I am used to deadlines and have no fear of writer’s block. I also think I have an understanding of how to shape a piece of writing, although shaping something which is 80,000 words long is very different from shaping something which is 800 words long.

9781785079924When I had come to the end I went on a family holiday and got up VERY early every morning, and rewrote the entire book, adding in a couple more characters. This took quite a lot of discipline, but frankly I had come so far by then that I was determined to get it in print.

I took the whole thing to an agent who was wonderful. She took the book on and had suggestions about how to alter specific bits of it, which I agreed with. So I gave the book another going through. She then contacted Legend who agreed to publish it.

The good thing about doing a course was that it kept me going and kept my confidence up, because I got a lot of support from the course leader, the wonderful novelist Adam Foulds, and my fellow classmates. The other thing is that I presented firstly the agent and secondly the publisher with an actual finished product so I had done all the work by the time the deal was done, which was really a huge relief.

I am utterly delighted at having written this novel and want to encourage anyone out there who wants to have a go, at trying it. It is difficult but I would say the worst bit is starting out. Once you have started, keep going and eventually you will come to those magical two words. The End.

Rosie Millard is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. She was the BBC Arts Correspondent for ten years, since then she has been a profile writer at The Sunday Times, columnist for The Independent, arts editor of The New Statesman, theatre critic and feature writer. She makes TV and radio documentaries and appears as a commentator for a number of national TV shows. She is Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017. Rosie has also written The Tastemakers, an exploration of the British contemporary art scene, and Bonnes Vacances!, a comic memoir about taking her family around the French Overseas Departments.


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