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!