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 ).