Posts Tagged Marilyn Rodwell

Writing for The Weekly News

On Saturday The Birmingham Chapter of the RNA held a Writers’ Day and I was asked to do a session on short stories. I chose to talk about writing tales with a twist for The Weekly NewsThe Weekly News

The official guidelines for The Weekly News are on that treasure trove of information, Womagwriter’s Blog, but here are some of the other points that I made in my presentation:

Research the market. The Weekly News can be hard to get hold of but I find it more readily available in smaller newsagents and convenience stores rather than WH Smith or large supermarkets. Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy for you. Alternatively, stories that have been previously published in The Weekly News can be found in these two e-collections: House Guests and Other Stories and Old Friends.

The twist should come as late as possible in the story and will often turn the tale completely on its head BUT the reader should not be lied to. The story should make complete sense whether read with the twisted ending in mind or the ending that you hope the reader will assume is coming.

Types of Twist

  • Character Identity – the small boy nervous about going to school turns out to be the headmaster
  • Character Motive – the head juror is pushing for a quick verdict not because he’s in a hurry to get home but because he’s actually committed the crime and therefore wants the defendant sent down ASAP
  • Location – the stranded climber is not on a mountain top but is on a climbing frame in the park

Things that (seem to) work for me:

  • Having a male main character (both sexes read The Weekly News)
  • Aiming at the lower end of the 1200- 1500 required words. These stories pull the wool over the reader’s eyes and the fewer words, the easier that is.
  • Keep the time period for the story as short as possible (I’m talking seconds/minutes rather than days) to keep it snappy

I know that a lot of you are successful Weekly News writers and probably have your own personal set of ‘rules’. You might prefer to keep them secret from the competition(!) but if not, do they differ greatly from mine?

Finally a shout-out to some of the people who helped Saturday go with a swing:

Marilyn Rodwell who ably orgainsed the whole day
Bella Osborne who taught us how to plan our novel (and gave us post-its to play with)
Lizzie Lamb who talked about her self-publishing and marketing experiences
Alison May who educated us about editing and said it’s OK to hate your first draft
Helen Barrell who talked about all things social media
and fellow blogger Maria Smith who came and introduced herself to me – lovely to put a face to a name.

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Writing Romantic Novels with Sue Moorcroft

Last Saturday I had a great time (and learned a lot) at a workshop organised by the Birmingham Chapter of the

Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft

Romantic Novelists’ Association. It was held in the lovely surroundings of the new Library of Birmingham.

Sue Moorcroft came to talk to us about writing romantic novels. She gave us much good advice such as:

  • Know the publisher/market you are aiming for before beginning the book and she told us that Harper Impulse are currently open to submissions.
  • Have a one sentence synopsis to describe the book and also know what tone you are writing in i.e. light and frothy, grittty, tearjerker etc.
  • When planning the story, avoid listing the scenes/ideas down the page. Instead use a spider diagram so that your brain is not chanelled into what happens when too soon – instead your mind can jump about and pick the most appropriate scene.
  • What should you do when a story runs out of steam or you have a ‘saggy’ middle? Introduce something dramatic such as the revelation of a secret, a new character (maybe an ex-boyfriend or an illigitimate baby), a skeleton in the cupboard or anything else that will add drama to the situation.
  • Keep the hero and heroine apart by giving them conflicting goals.
  • The traits required of heros and heroines – they should both be decent, honest people but should have some flaws and vulnerability like the rest of us.
  • A prologue (where the book lends itself to it) gives the author two chances to hook the reader (once in the prologue and once in chapter one)
  • Chapter One should move the story forward. Do not clutter it with back story or scene setting.
  • An epilogue can be used to prolong the reader’s feeling of happy satisfaction at the end of a book. It may be a wedding, new baby or other tieing up of loose ends.
  • When writing, remember Act, React and Interact. This will make it easier to Show rather than Tell. For example the characters should react to their environment – such as squinting at the sun – rather than the author describing the sunny day.

We had a lovely buffet lunch and the whole day ran smoothly. Special mention should go to Marilyn Rodwell for her organisational skills and her doughnuts which gave us all a sugar kick first thing in the morning!

And if you’d like more of Sue’s invaluable advice take a look at her book  Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction – available in paperback or as an e-book.

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Quotes About Writing

In the last week I’ve come across a couple of quotes posted on Facebook about writing and I thought you might like them as much as I did.

Jackie Sayle posted the first one, by the German novelist and short story writer, Thomas Mann, in the Bring Back Fiction to Women’s Magazines! group. I related to it instantly – what do you think?

Thomas Mann quote about writing

 

This one, posted by Marilyn Rodwell, made me feel inspired – hope it does the same for you!

A Writers's manifesto

 

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