Friday 28 March 2014

A writing day with Pam Weaver

On Saturday, March 22nd, I spent a very interesting and informative day on a writing course run by Pam Weaver, whose family sagas include There’s Always Tomorrow, and Better Days Will Come, published by the Avon division of HarperCollins.

The venue for the day was The Roundstone Room at Haskins Garden Centre near Worthing, where we were very well catered for; coffee, tea and cold drinks to hand all day and their excellent ‘Regal Lily’ buffet at lunchtime.

The day began at 10am when fourteen keen writers – including just one brave gentleman – introduced ourselves to the group, with a brief explanation of our experience and aspirations. I love attending this type of day course, it’s a step into the unknown to find oneself in a room full of strangers with whom you have only one thing in common – the desire to write. Some want to write down the bedtime stories they tell to their children or grandchildren; some are keen to write a memoir, not necessarily with the goal of publication but for family members; some have already had magazine articles and/or short stories published. But if your dream is to be a successful, best-selling author then who better to advise and guide you through potential pitfalls, than someone who has already travelled that road and reached her goal?

Pam had created a ‘Plan for the Day’ which, briefly, involved advice on creating good characters (with a ten point check list); plot, pace, theme, point of view – and the all-important ‘hook’.

We were given advice on what agents and publishers really want, and crucially, what they don’t want! This included useful guidelines on how to write a synopsis of your novel to accompany your submission.

A fun part of the day for me was the class exercise. Pam asked us to take a wander around Haskins during our lunch break and pick out an interesting character, observe them discreetly (she didn’t want any of us to get arrested!) then return to the meeting room to write a paragraph about them. As well as writing about what we had actually observed, we were to use our imagination and include something about them which we couldn’t know just by looking at them. I found myself weaving and dodging around the various gift, household and clothing displays following a couple on their search for a Mother’s Day present. At least that’s what I surmised they were doing; and it looks as though someone’s mother will be getting scented candles!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. The programme Pam had put together and the way she worked through it was both useful and encouraging – thank you, Pam – and it’s also good to spend time with other writers – they’re such friendly people!

Pam Weaver’s latest book, For Better For Worse, will be published by Avon in July this year.

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