I have a little leather bound book which I have filled with pieces of advice and pithy sayings over the years as I try to learn the art and craft of writing. It includes admonishments to myself such as ‘make hay while the sun shines’ (I find it hard to just sit down and write, I need cups of coffee and other distractions until half the day is gone). It paraphrases things writers have said, such as ‘I only write when I’m inspired and I make sure I’m inspired at 9am every day’ – I really like that one. My other favourite is ‘when I started to do well I thought I got lucky. Then I found that the harder I worked, the luckier I got.’ Great advice.
But the best piece of advice I found was ‘Write What You Know’ and I’d like to share my thoughts on that with you, especially if you are thinking of attempting your first Pocket Novel.
When I decided to try to write a Pocket Novel, I was overwhelmed by what I needed: a plot, subplot(s) interesting characters, character development and story arcs. I realised then that the last thing I wanted to worry about was the authenticity of my setting and other factual information such as the characters’ careers, especially over the course of 30,000 (now 50,000) words. I decided to give the heroine my own job – so she became an impassioned ecologist fighting for environmental rights against the hero, who turned out be a property developer. I wanted him to be the opposite of her so they could clash wonderfully. This story turned into my first published Pocket Novel ‘Wild For Love’. Of course my heroine Polly does things and thinks things about her job that are definitely not me but at least I didn’t have to worry about scientific accuracy and could concentrate on trying to get that elusive ‘page turning quality’ essential to romances.
You can use your career, any areas of expertise you’ve built up perhaps through hobbies and interests, and also universal themes of love, childbirth, even bereavement. If you’ve experienced them, that will come through in your writing.
It took me a long time to realise that there was a second meaning to ‘Write What You Know’ and that is, if you don’t know a subject it doesn’t mean you can’t use it but make sure you research, research and research until you do! Don’t be shy, borrow experiences from friends and family and there is always the local library and internet.
I have done this with my most recently written Pocket Novel which has been accepted for publication. I wanted my heroine Melody to be into fashions and fun clothes and accessories and live in that sort of world. So I decided she should be an up and coming fashion designer with a circle of creative friends. This was a challenge because I know nothing about that world. However, I do have a cousin whose wife is a dress designer and she was only too happy to help as most people are, if you ask them nicely.
So write what you know, and above all, just keep writing and get lucky!