Romance writers are often reluctant to talk about formula, for fear of cheapening the genre or making something creative sound mechanical. There is, however, a cast iron formula used by every one of them, from the best to the worst, and which will never let you down whether you're writing a magazine story, a Mills and Boon novella or a full length novel....
I haven't abandoned London entirely and will continue to make frequent visits for meetings, gigs and catch ups with best pals, but for now, I'm committed to making this fine city of Nottingham my home and place of wild creative abandon. I do hope Nottingham is as excited about my arrival. Nottingham, can you hear me...?
Clever plots are fine, but it's the characters that bring a story to life. It's the characters that we get emotionally involved with, and which we are likely to remember most when the story's over. So how do you create characters that are memorable, feel like real people, and who stand out not just from those in similar stories but from their fellow cast members in the world they inhabit?
With the women's weeklies collectively publishing dozens of stories every week, they provide a ready market for any aspiring fiction writer to get in print and earn decent fees while writing about whatever subjects turn them on. Writing for the womags isn't an easy option, however. They have exacting standards.
If you want to try blogging, set up a blog. If you want to journal, journal. If you want to submit something to a magazine without much writing experience, do it! If you want to spend the next few years writing a book, do that. You don't need to be published to be a writer and you don't need to have been published in order to get published.
Few things in life are more daunting than attempting to write a novel. Leaving aside the amount of words you have to write (novels are usually around 80,000 - 100,000 words), there's the enormity of having to create an entire world, peopled by characters that have come straight out of your imagination.
2015 was the year of the adult colouring book. Their popularity caused a spike in sales of physical titles as they sold in their millions, providing stocking fillers and Secret Santa gifts nationwide. Bestseller lists remain full of them well into 2016: wild flowers, swear words, Jeremy Corbyn - you name it, you can colour it in.
Authors get writers block. They hit a wall, a creative blockage whereby they simply cannot write, no matter how hard they try. Journalists don't get writers block. How can they? Stories move too quickly, new things happen every day. Journalists have it lucky. There is too much to write about. Right?
One of the few things I have done right (eventually) was managing to get a deal with Harper Collins and having my debut novel "The Darkest Hour" published in the USA and UK. Finally, I did something right. Except I didn't. I made a ton of mistakes as a debut author... so I thought I would list them here...