A Pocketful of Good Advice (and Peak District)!

Last weekend I threw caution, preplanning and all the things I should have been doing to the wind, and uprooted us all to the Peak District for a long weekend.

It’s not the kind of a place you need an excuse to visit, chock-full of natural beauty as it is, but we all had several  – visiting The Marketplace Restaurant and Scarthin Books in Cromford again, visiting Peveril Castle – but I had a just-for-me excuse in the form of a workshop on writing Pocket Novels, run by the lovely Sally Quilford and handily located in Chesterfield.

It was great to finally meet Sally in the flesh and I spent a useful, funny and hugely enjoyable few hours in the company of Sally and my fellow workshoppers. I had worried that it might be brimming with multi-published authors who just wanted some pointers on the Pocket Novel format. Eeek! Intimidating!

As it turned out, I had no need to worry. They were a friendly bunch with a great sense of humour and ranged from writing novices to people like me who have had the odd success here and there but are still working hard at it and trying to have more. Everyone was full of enthusiasm and great ideas, whilst Sally’s advice, exercises and handouts were incredibly useful, really making me feel well-informed and a great deal more confident about writing for that format.

So much so, that I’ll be giving my first pocket novel a go for NaNoWriMo! But more on that later. For now, here’s a rundown of the topics Sally covered

  • Basic requirements: format, word length, characters, structure, narrative, dialogue etc
  • Writing a traditional romance – the conventions
  • The Morality of Pocket Novel World
  • Approachable Heroines
  • Rewarding Heroes
  • Conflict – what it is and how it works in romances
  • The First of a Million Kisses
  • Compelling secondary characters
  • How to come up with plots and sub-plots
  • Quick tips for writing a pocket novel (focusing on structure)
  • Writing for My Weekly/People’s Friend – what the editors want; similarities and differences
  • Tips for writing your synopsis
  •  After your pocket novel is published: Going into Large Print and Kindle
Hopefully I haven’t forgotten any. If you get the chance to go to one of Sally’s workshops, GO! You’ll have fun and learn a lot. 
Afterwards I caught up with the family, who had been exploring the town and museum, and were having a tour around the church with its famous twisted spire. A fascinating church – lots of inspiration there!

4 thoughts on “A Pocketful of Good Advice (and Peak District)!”

    • Thanks, Keith.
      Have you been tempted to try a pocket novel? I see from your blog you’ve already written a key scene! 😉 How does Sally feel about being your heroine?
      Quite spooky actually – when I saw your comment pop up I was just updating my last post because I’d forgotten to mention your blog. Must be something in the air!

  1. Thanks for the positive write up, Alison! It was lovely to meet you too. I’m only sorry I didn’t have more time to have a proper chat with everyone on a personal level. And yes, we do have the most wonderful countryside around here. I’m very lucky to live in such surroundings.

    • I think it’s swings and roundabouts really (oh dear – a cliche – must have my MW hat on LOL!). I suppose you would have more time to chat with fewer attendees, but then a large group has a better chance of having a buzz – if you have a small workshop and a couple of people are very reticent, things can go very flat.
      I’m sure we’ll meet up in the future – for a start, I need no persuasion to spend a weekend in your neck of the woods – and meanwhile, thank to the magic of twitter, email and blogs, we can drop in for a chat any time!


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