Monday, 24 October 2011

Saturday at Sally Quilford's Pocket Novel Workshop...

I had a busy Saturday attending Sally Quilford's first Pocket Novel Workshop in Chesterfield. Now it's not far from Nottingham, 30-40 minutes by train, so off I went. I have to admit I haven't been on a train for over 20 years, so initiously I was a bit anxious...

I needn't have worried, I arrived in one piece at Chesterfield and followed Sally's directions to get to the Market Hall building. Chesterfield is clearly a thriving market town and I'd like to visit another time.

Anyway I got to the room we would be in and Sally and her daughter were there to welcome us, and they provided tea, coffee and biscuits- as it had been an early start for all of us.

We were a mixed bunch of writers, from those who had an idea for a pocket novel, to those who were broadening their writing horizons- our number included two males.

Writers are always told to study their market, so we started with the differences between the My Weekly pn (pocket novels) and those produced by People's Friend. One big difference is 'kissing'; there's no kissing in the PF version, while the My Weekly pn editor is very happy with kissing (more about that shortly).

So we got down to some writing. First our heroine- we wrote about who she is, her background, description (if we knew what she looked like) and anything relevent.
And it's not easy if you don't already have a character in mind, or you do have a character but don't know anything about them yet.

We then repeated the process with out hero- I only had a name, but realised he was actually a character who'd been lurking in my mind for some time (I'd teamed him up with another heroine originally but realised they were not right together).

Our next task was conflict-both internal and external-  difficult when you don't know your characters well.

The secondary characters came next. I've found my secondary character usually acts as a support to both my hero and heroine, rather than one for each, or creating problems.

And finally the kissing scene. We all groaned at the thought of producing this. When you consider you've just started to discover your hero and heroine and then got to get them kissing without the normal lead in time...help!!!!

But we survived and all too soon the day was over- we did have a break for lunch, Sally was not that cruel...

We all learnt so much, but if you want to know, you'll have to find out from Sally. She hopes to do others if she can arrange them, and you can always contact her about her online workshop- see Sally's blog.

It was a great day and among Sally's suggestions were links on Womag writer's blog, the current  pocket novel guidelines and Douglas McPherson's interview with the My Weekly Pocket Novel Editor Maggie Seed (which originally appeared in Writers Forum ).

9 comments:

  1. I agree, it was a brilliant day. I've suggested she comes to Nottingham to do her next one since Chesterfield Market Hall is to be closed for refurbishment.

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  2. Good idea Keith.
    It was a brilliant day, learning combined with fun.
    And no character was the same, which just proves how different writers think and create.

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  3. Sounds like a fun and productive day, carol. Hope you get a pocket novel out of it!

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  4. Glad you had an enjoyable day, Carol.

    Looking forward to seeng your pocket novel on the shelves soon.

    from dora

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  5. Thanks for the positive post, Carol! I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if it was exhausting. I was pooped by the end of the day too, but I was also very lucky with the people who came to the workshop, yourself included. You all threw yourselves into it with great enthusiasm. I hope we get to meet again one day!

    I shall have to look into Nottingham venues and see if there are any viable.

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  6. Rosemary, the day was well worth the time and cost.
    I have an idea to develop now, as well as getting on with the novella I'd already started.

    Dora, my current pocket novel project won't be ready for submission until early next year, but if it gets accepted I will let everyone know about it.

    Thanks for visiting Sally. It would have been difficult not to be enthusiastic with such friendly people and your infectious humour.

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  7. Sounds like a worthwhile and interesting day.

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  8. Glad you had a good time Carol - I think writing the pocket novels is quite an art form and not for the feint-hearted!

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  9. Yes, Patsy, it was interesting, and well worth the train trip to attend.

    You're right, Sally. There are certain parameters that you need to keep to with pocket novels, and that means the writer needs to keep control of the characters so they don't stray over the boundaries- which can be hard work...

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