Get Writing in St Albans

St Alban's Cathedral

The sun decided to disappear the moment I got out my camera!

The lovely St Albans was the setting for this year’s Verulam Writers’ Get Writing day which, as usual, did not disappoint. There were some names I’d already heard of, the incredibly talented historical fiction writer, Emma Darwin (the great-great-granddaughter of Charles and Emma Darwin) for one.

Emma Darwin on Recreating the Past

I attended Emma’s two-hour workshop ‘Recreating the Past’ and was introduced to something called “psychic distance” which I confess I’d never heard of before and would probably get totally wrong if I tried to repeat it, so here it is as Emma explains it:

The fabulously upbeat Lucy V Hay who is a novelist, script editor, screenwriter and blogger of discussed loglines and taglines, the three ‘C’s namely, concept, clarity and character, and how to pitch your screen-play or novel. We discovered that there really is something called ‘the saving the cat, scene,’ written to make the audience see the softer side of an actor who is a ‘bad ass.’ It was coined from Ripley in Alien who wouldn’t leave the ship without Jones the cat.  And apparently a ‘fridge woman’ in a film is the name of a woman brought on simply to get her killed. Who knew?


It reminded me of a different Get Writing talk a few years ago when a BBC screenwriter discussed how they decide the ‘duff, duff’ moment, ie: the closing scene when the ‘duff, duff, duff’ music at the end of Eastenders starts to play. Love it!

Cambridge academic Andy Martin amused us with tales of when he sat with Lee Child for seven months watching him write one of his books, drink gallons of coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes. Still not sure why he did it but he produced a book from his experience called, ‘Reacher said Nothing,’ which I think is a great title.IMG_1420

He made an interesting point as to why Lee Child was happy for Tom Cruise to play the part of Jack Reacher in the film, when, in the book, he’s a six foot something bit of a hard man. The reason it seems, was simply that he knew Tom Cruise would be a dead cert to get the film made and that Tom was such a good actor that everyone would forget the height of the original Jack Reacher within five minutes of watching Tom Cruise on the big screen.

The day was rounded off off with a couple of book bloggers who get hundreds of books sent through their door- sounds like heaven, but wow, what a lot of hard work to try and review them all – oh, and their postman hates them!

And just for the ‘aww’ factor here’s a nest with baby coots living on Heron island in St Albans park. (or they might be moorhens – hey, I’m a writer not an ornithologist!)


Jackie xx

Air Guitar and Caviar out now.



One thought on “Get Writing in St Albans

  1. LOVE this post, Jackie. Definitely want to come out from behind the desk and attend some writing events next year, so if you’re going anywhere good, let me know. X

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