We had lunch in their nice canteen on the 11th floor. I took my own as I have various food intolerances.
Back to the room, we had a talk by Susanna Ahern whom is their regular serial contributor.
They do 3, 4 and 5 parters, although the 5 parter is a new thing, with the others more common. 3 parters have 3400 words each part, 4 parter has 3300 words and I'd say 5 parter has 3200 words each.
Susanna said that she writes the first part with good end and a brief outline of the rest of the series. Send the outline first! She needs to know the end of it all. If you get stuck doing it, then it's not worth trying with it.
Don't be precious, if told the story is not working then it's not.
Be prepared to take advice.
Be aware of the audience, on the other hand don't think of it just write it.
Likes to know the end - have a loose structure.
At start of each part, work out the end of the last part. So that the readers know the characters are OK after a cliff hanger.
Be personal. Use your own voice.
Stick to things you are inspired by.
Characters - Susanna can't go forward until she knows the characters. She has 2 main protagonists, usually related. Going through similar situation but who face it differently.
1st pov works with mystery.
Splits sections into different povs
Gaynor is not too keen on too much present tense. Don't change tense.
Find out about characters background: clothes, food smells and feel of place.
Characters are human beings and feel real
Character has to have motive. Has to have a reputation. Has to have a network - family, colleagues etc as they are not an island. Have habits and patterns. Talents and abilities. Tastes and preferences. Physical appearance
Plot - We were given a sheet called the Story Mountain Planner (which I might use when I write my next story for them).
Plot for 3 parter goes likes this@
Part 1 - Beginning of story. End of this part has something to change story to happen. Fraught situation.
Part 2 - Middle: Same point at end of last part. Explain cliff hanger. Characters are OK. Peak and dilemma. Things happen and characters are put to the test.
Part 3 End: Fulfill promise to readers. Round up characters. Give solution.
Then we had to interview the person next to us about their background. With that info we had to write an outline of a story. Mine incl a librarian who writes history and is taken into a historical scene by a cat. A scene that she is writing. Then was another exercise where we had to choose three words and write a story outline. I chose a Xmas theme. We had to read our outline out loud. I might change mine around and send it in sometime.
Then we had a chat by Laura Longrigg of MBA agency. Didn't take much notes for this. She did say though not to write with a publisher in mind, and describe your book in one sentence.
We were given several handouts which are useful. Said goodbye. I told Gaynor that I had learnt why my rejected story was rejected and will prob try again. Was so pleased I went.