Friday, 30 March 2012

Learn to write: courses, cakes and a little book

OK, enough with the weather … anyone would think we never saw the sun in this country the way we’re all carrying on about our sunshine (me most of all).  

It’s time to get back to the serious business of writing, and to tell you about some advice on offer if you’re interested in learning how to tackle a romance or are looking to improve your technique.  There should be something here for everyone!

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First up, I’m offering a CRASH COURSE IN WRITING ROMANCE at the University of York on Saturday 23rd June 2012.  This is a one-day workshop specifically designed for those who have always thought they’d like to try writing a romance, but haven’t really known where to start.

The course will focus on how to invest a story with the emotional tension that is key to the success of any romance. We’ll be looking at how to create an engaging and sympathetic heroine and an irresistible hero, as well as a plot that will keep the readers turning the pages to a satisfying end. Working in groups, we will have created the outline of a story together by the end of the day. This is the social side of writing, and the most fun, so come prepared to participate!

For more details contact the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York. 
York is a lovely city to visit, so even if you’re not local, why not think about making a weekend of it? You'll find all the information you need here

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Have you already completed a book?  Then you might be interested in one of the fabulous Julie Cohen’s ADVANCED NOVEL WRITING courses held in Reading.

Julie is running two courses, one on 26th May (one place left) and another on 13th October, which is filling up quickly.  Courses are limited to 11 participants, who ideally would have completed at least one novel, and are closely tailored to the participants' needs; Julie usually asks them questions in advance and structure the day around what they need to know.  You can get a flavour of the course at a brief video here.  

The courses tend to cover things like structure, conflict, pacing, characterisation and revision techniques, as well as writing a synopsis and submitting your work, but they also take in discussions about the writing business, about planning your time, and about what it's like once you're published. They're highly interactive. “We have formal exercises,” Julie says, “but a lot of the learning also takes place in informal discussions. For me, the best compliment is that people keep on recommending me to their friends, and coming back again and again to review different aspects of their writing.”

And as if that wasn’t incentive enough, Julie offers a discount if you bring homemade cake! 

For more information get in touch with Julie at or see her website,

Switching genres has meant I’ve had to start again on the writing learning curve in lots of ways, and I’m tempted by a course like Julie’s myself.  Sometimes it can be really helpful to go back to basics and look at how to write with fresh eyes.

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For those of you who can’t make it to York or Reading, I can highly recommend Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance.  Written in Liz’s characteristically easy style, it is illustrated with intriguing examples from her own books, every one of which makes you want to read on past the excerpt to the story itself.  PTQ at its best.  This is a beautifully clear guide to what you really need to know when you’re writing a romance.  

The Little Book of Writing Romance is aimed at beginners, but I have to say I found myself sucked into it as soon as I started to read, and wished I’d looked at it when I was struggling with my 59th romance recently.  It’s not too late, though.  I’m expecting revisions any day now, and I suspect I'll be very glad that Liz will be on hand, as it were, to set me back on the right track ...

Liz Fielding's Little Book of Writing Romance is available to download from Amazon now.


  1. I wish I could come to York and sit at your feet, Pam! And I'm reading The Summer of Living Dangerously at the moment. So far have laughed and cried my eyes out.

  2. Should have mentioned The Watermill at Posara too, where Sharon Kendrick and Kate Walker are offering courses this year. Check out the Watermill website - - for details.

  3. I guess a trip across the pond for a one-day course might be a little too jet-setty for my very piggy-bank budget :-(

  4. Shame, Heidi. That pesky pond is just too big!

  5. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u...

    University of York