Friday, 14 July 2006

RNA conference - part 2

Here’s a run down on some of the seminars I attended on day two:

Ann Lingard ran a session about using science in our books. She runs a website called Scitalk, which is an excellent resource for writers researching science-related matters. Plenty of scientists from a variety of fields have signed up to the site to make themselves available if a writer wants to contact them to ask a question. They have quantum physicists, forensic pathologists and people who investigate horse sweat (!), among others.

Kate Fenton talked about writing romantic comedy. She had me in stitches. She said that, although love is a serious business, falling in love is intrinsically funny – a socially acceptable form of madness, if you like. I was interested in what she had to say about off-setting humour with the emotional sections of her books to increase the tragedy.

Diane Pearson, RNA President, ran a very practical workshop on arresting the editor’s attention. She asked us to provide her with the first two sentences of our books and a short synopsis. She told us that the first couple of lines should give a feel of the whole book, saying something about character setting or theme. Unfortunately, I had used my current wip where Adele, the heroine, was faced with a spider in her bath. It read more like a horror story than a romance. Did not get a gold star…
Good tips for the synopsis (short synopsis) were to keep it to the main story and avoid mentioning too many secondary characters. She was constantly commenting on how there was “too much information”.

Dorothy Lumley gave a talk on what a literary agent is looking for. She said the submission letter is important as it is like a first meeting and it is wise to create a good first impression.

Penny Jordan also did a very interesting question and answer session. I’m afraid I didn’t write lots down, but a good tip for prop up a sagging middle was to add a subplot that lasts for only a few chapters, perhaps from chapters three to seven. I also found it hugely encouraging that she always thinks the current book is the worst one she’s ever written. Makes me feel a bit more normal.

After that it was a quick break to get ready for the gala dinner. The dining room might have been cramped, but the atmosphere was great and I had lovely time chatting to people I hadn’t caught up with yet.


Ray-Anne said...

Hi Fiona.
Sorry we only met very briefly in the bar - I was delighted when Jan presented you with the award. Many congratulations again, and yes, I completely agree with you about the sessions. I came away with a headache by end of day one! Far too much to think about.
all the best - Ray-Anne

Fiona Harper said...

Hi, Ray-anne. Brain still frazzled almost a week later...