I started Sunday morning of with “Jessica Hart’s A-Z survival guide for Romantic Novelists”. She is soooo funny. But, if you have read any of her books you will know that.
My personal highlight was D for deadlines. She gave us a run down of how she copes during her two month writing slot for each book:
Chapters 1-3 – not bad
Chapter 4 – slowing down
Chapter 5 – struggling
Chapter 6 – plodding
Chapter 7 – stop. Panic. Go down wine bar.
(In fact there were an awful lot of pics of Jessica at her local wine bar in her powerpoint presentation).
Chapters 8-10 – with 12 days to go, write in a complete frenzy and finish minutes before deadline.
Then I listened to Diana Burchall give a talk on ‘Life in the Hollywood Story Department’. She reads books for Warner Brothers to see if they can be made into films. Interesting. She also told us about her grandmother who was a story analyst in the early days of movies and who was rather eccentric.
We then had a PR forum and Jenny Haddon and Catherine Jones talked about raising the profile of both Romantic fiction and the RNA.
Katie Fforde talked for ten minutes about ‘The First Page’ then let us grill her with questions about her writing career.
Jenny Haddon (who writes as Sophie Weston for M&B) then gave a brilliant seminar on upping the emotion in our writing. I took home lots of nuggets from this one. The thing that stuck most was the phrase “screw the punch” (a boxing term), meaning deliver the emotional hit, then echo and repeat it, making the situation worse. I think I do this anyway sometimes, but it's always better to consciously use these techniques than just stumble along in the dark, I think.
Last of all Liz Bailey gave us a drama workshop to help us to tap into our emotions better. I must admit I got rather competitive about a game of “What’s the time Mr Wolf?” and managed to convey a rather rude gesture only by using a yellow feather.
I then spent a rather brain dead evening in the bar where Liz and I would lapse into silence because our brains were too tired out to think of anything to say. And the last few braincells gave up and went home during Stephen’s fiendish bar quiz. I now feel really thick and am sure I know nothing about the publishing industry – although I did do rather well on the low-brow music round. Curses!