Friday, April 04, 2014

A Date With Kate - National Stationery Week

It all started with my  Advanced Romance Writing course. This is a weekend course  I run every February at
Fishguard  in Wales.   The numbers are strictly limited to 15 and every year since I started it, it has been completely sold out.  Many of the students have been  on the course before so this year I did try to think of some  ideas of new ways to help get important things across – and one of these was to use post-it notes.

When I was planning out ways of making things clearer, driving home certain points, I wanted a system  that was not just words on a page - and the post-it /emotions lesson was the result. Using the different colours of the notes, you write down the driving emotions – the ones that motivate your hero and heroine through the story. Then, looking at important events, you see which of those  emotions most come into play to make them happen. (And if it isn’t the emotions that m ake things happen, then you’re writing from the  wrong angle  because it’s the emotional arc that makes a romance.)  It seemed to work well - if you want  to know more about that then Johanna Grassick did a great write-up over on Novelistas Ink  - with a picture of post-it notes!

But things didn't stop there - since I got back, I've had a  couple of emails from another member of the group - another Jo  - and she has taken the post-it note philosophy to heart. She wrote to tell me how she'd been working hard on what she now calls ' The Fishguard Aftermath, aka A Date With Post-it Notes'.  She e
ven sent me a couple of photographs to illustrate how the post-it system can work - how it's worked for her to sort out the core emotions, the way those work their way through the story -  the things that change dramatically when love(see those heart shaped notes?)  or sex intervene and make things even more complicated.
 It's a visual - and fun way  of making things clearer and helping you focus on what matters.

 I'm not the only one to use sticky notes in this way -   Julie Cohen has a special blog on Post-It Plotting over on her web site - even  more colour, even more scheming  - and a great way to keep track of everyone/everything in the story.

As a result there has been rather a rush on post-it notes all over the country (and excuse - writers love a chance to buy more stationery). I know that the place I bought the notes for this year's Fishguard is currently out of stock! They must be wondering what hit them.

But then every writer I know just loves an excuse to indulge in their favourite treat – stationery shopping. I’ve never met an author who doesn’t love pens, pencils, notebooks  . . . Which is why this week is just the perfect excuse for us. Did you know it was National Stationery week?

No, neither did I until someone pointed it out – but now that I do know, I’ve had to make sure I celebrate it properly.    The organisers have assigned different topics to each day this week:

Monday is Pencil Day
Tuesday is Notebook day
Wednesday is Pen and ink day
Thursday is Tidy Desk day
Friday is Pencil Case day
Saturday is Get Organised day
Sunday is write a letter day.

After all, this was the perfect excuse to celebrate  Pencil Day  with some brand new pencils.  (The 
multipacks are the ‘everyday’ pencils I share with my classes). I find that if I’m stuck with an idea, if a book isn’t working, then sitting down and scribbling notes in a soft HB pencil (the ones my mother used to call ‘th
inking pencils’  can make things flow.  I love  really nice pencils – like these ones with a different coloured crystal at the top – or coloured ones, appropriately labelled Bright Ideas.  But sometimes – like today – faced with a shop with racks and racks of pencils I just don’t know which to choose!  As a result, instead of a pencil case, I keep my
pencils in a 1920s gloves box.

Notebooks – a writer always needs a notebook . Small ones to carry in your handbag, ‘rough’ books for scribbling down notes (with a thinking pencil) . Pens – I love pens  but I’m particular about them. I like narrow barrels, black ink. I celebrated Pen Day by taking delivery of my new promo pens – they write really nicely. (And I got some new bookmarks too – they’re stationery aren’t they?)

Today was supposed to be  ‘Tidy desk’ day – but where’s the fun in that?  My desk
is a shrine to stationery – piles of it. So I took up one of the other suggestions and went on a ‘stationery crawl’ instead -  the shopping mall had lots of places to browse and buy. WH Smith, Paperchase, Blott – even the Pound Shop. That’s where you can bulk buy for very little cash.  I even came home with some early birthday gifts for a friend (she’s a fellow writer so she shares the addiction.)

Tomorrow is Pencil Case day – but I already have the perfect pencil box – so perhaps I’d better celebrate  National Stationery week by using  some of it!  Writing . . .after all that’s what stationery is for.

I had hoped to be able to share some exciting news about the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance  but things aren't finalised  so if you visit my web site and my blog you'll find out more.
And if you want to come on any courses - check out my Events pages for everything I have coming up - there's a  romance writing weekend in May next and a library talk in  June

My next romance is A Question of Honour (or Honor, depending on which side
 of 'the Pond'  you're living.) That's coming out in  June
 And there's a reprint of  A Good Greek Wife?
 in Eligible Greeks: Sizzling Affairs  3 in 1 in May

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