New year is traditionally a time to think about new projects and setting goals. If you've thought about writing a pocket novel for My Weekly or People's Friend, I discovered that all the pocket novelists who contribute to this blog agree: start with research. There is no substitute for reading a selection of pocket novels from each series to give you the best idea about what is required.
"I cracked the pocket novel market by reading a load of the current ones," says Cara Cooper. "Still, whenever I start on a new one, I read a couple more as even in the tight world of the pocket novel there are developments."
It is important to realise that writing pocket novels is a specific skill. "Don't think of it as an easy option," says Chrisse Loveday. "They are a genre in their own right."
"Respect the genre and respect the readership," agrees Sally Quilford. "It’s important to enjoy writing them. It’s noticeable that the couple I wrote that I struggled over was because I lost interest in the story or it didn’t work out as I’d hoped."
"Naturally you have to have read pocket novels to know the content and types of stories," adds Nolene Jenkinson. "But you also must have a certain level of story telling and writing ability before it's enough for an editor to consider your work."
If you think writing for pocket novels might be for you and want to give it a go, remember:
- Both My Weekly Pocket Novels and People's Friend Pocket Novels are 50K in length
- The series have different editors and so it worth checking for up to date guidelines before submitting
- Pocket novels can be straightforward "boy meets girl" romances or they might be other stories that incorporate romance, e.g. dramas, mystery, suspense, family stories, rags to riches
- Pocket novels must be excellent page turners with sympathetic characters and engaging plots. Study films and TV serials that you like and analyse what it is that makes you keep watching.
- Violence should not be graphic and the bedroom door should remain shut
- Having said that, kisses should be passionate and pulses should race with romantic tension
- Contemporary stories as well as historical settings are acceptable but don't go too far back in historical times (my earliest-set one is The Smuggler Returns - see picture - set in 1795)
- Stories can be set anywhere in the world
If you decide to give it a go, good luck from all the Pocketeers, and let us know how you get on.