....welcome to my blog on writing, reading and living in London ......

Monday, 21 February 2011

Kate Walker's Advanced Writing Romance Course

I have just returned from this fabulous course given by Kate Walker, here we are enjoying a cup of well earned coffee. Kate is the extraordinarily successful Mills and Boon author - and author of the '12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.'

In a hotel overlooking the bay at Fishguard Harbour in Wales we covered so, so much over the weekend - I am exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure. Kate seemed to have boundless energy and shared the secrets of her craft generously, with authority and endless enthusiasm. This was an advanced course, and there had been a course before it which included things such as writing the perfect synopsis and the submission letter. This course however was more of a detailed examination of the craft of writing romance. Although Kate is a Mills and Boon author, anyone wanting to write romance would find this course invaluable. Beforehand we had been asked to submit three chapters and a synopsis and were given Kate's written and oral critique which is worth its weight in gold. There was other preparatory work - this wasn't a holiday folks! We had read one of her books and were asked to make notes examining minutely: the opening; characters; conflict; point of view; foreshadowing; setting; and the ending with the aid of useful notes indicating the sort of questions we should be asking ourselves as we both read and write romance.

In workshops we covered the list below. Kate has a fluid style and is happy to answer questions and so the course was tailored skillfully to those attending. Just making this list recalls the terrific amount of things we looked at:
A sort of recipe sheet listing the ingredients to enable you to construct your hero/heroine
Six ways of creating character
Ten ways of using your new character in a story
Query letter basics
How to write a synopsis in 8 paragraphs
How to bring conflict into your story
Internal conflict
External conflict (ie. what they both are and are NOT)
A Four Act Structure
Points to consider when writing sex scenes
Emotional punch - twenty ways to help create it
Emotional Intensity - what is it?
Tips for showing not telling
8 "Moments" you absolutely need to deliver to your readers.... and 1 you should hope for
Tips for writing a great first chapter
Five reasons romances go wrong

The main thing I got out of it was the ability to read and analyse a romance AS A WRITER - an invaluable tool in being able to construct one's own romance with all the emotional pull necessary to provide page turning quality. I hope to goodness some of her magic dust sprinkles my way. But most of all I realise that what's needed is sheer hard work - blood, sweat and tears! But what you end up with is so satisfying for both the creator and the reader who enjoys it, it is all worthwhile.

The hotel was great with lovely staff and endless food (those super deserts won't help your waistline) and the whole thing was organised by Gerry at www.writersholiday.net who even taxis you to and from the station..... Thanks Gerry!


Jan Sprenger said...

Cara - great report, that sounds like a week's worth not a weekend!

Maybe you can pass on a few tips next time we're at Seekers!


margaret blake said...

Cara, That sounds a really worthwhile weekend. Wish I had known about it.


Julia Broadbooks said...

What a great weekend. Thanks for blogging about it. Wish I could have been there with you!

Cara Cooper said...

Hi Jan

Yes, of course, happy to share at Seekers, it was very enlightening. Margaret - I believe it's on every year about this time so if you can get to the wilds of Wales...... Hi Julia, it would have been the more the merrier, we actually had a really nice group which gelled well which was good.

scarlet wilson said...

Sounds fab Cara, I'm so jealous! xx

Talli Roland said...

I'm so jealous! That sounds fantastic!

Joanna George said...

Was good to meet you and share the weekend with you. Been writing solidly since we came back. Jo

Cara Cooper said...

Brilliant to hear it Joanna, wonderful to have such inspiration, long may it last. I have been reading and analysing like a demon so now need to get down to putting bum on seat and pen on paper...... It was lovely to meet you, I hope we meet again soon.

Rachael Thomas said...

What a great post. We really did cover lots last weekend and like Jo I've been busy writing since I returned home. I'm hoping some of Kate's magic dust comes my way too!

Cara Cooper said...

Hi Rachael, wonderful to meet you. I predict you'll be the first one of us to get the call, yours was a wonderful manuscript!