Deep down I am a storyteller – I see the world in a cinematic way. Images and words stay with me; seeing a discarded carrier bag caught in the branches of a tree, observing a child who has fallen and in a split second is unsure whether to cry or not. Hearing people’s comments when in a crowded space or watching a woman in high heels negotiate cracks in pavements – are all everyday actions that fuel my imagination.

Over the years I have written many thousands of words turning everyday observations into fiction and in December 2013 I decided to do something with all of my notes, drawings, sound recordings, and collection of small items.

I signed up for the Guardian Popular Women’s Writing Master Class. I attended the course a few weeks ago and it was just as I had hoped, inspiring, insightful and stimulating.


The course, lasting two days, spoke directly to emerging authors on the art of writing popular women’s fiction. Rowan Coleman and Julie Cohen, two prolific and successful authors led our group and they were brilliant guides.

Throughout the weekend we received praise and encouragement, as well as honest feedback that made me rethink my writing style, structure and characterisations.  An example is my main character, a woman who has no name. Answering questions from Julie and Rowan, I realised that I could create intrigue in many ways other than giving the character no name. It sounds simple when I re-tell this example now, but the discussion showed me that I did not know my main character particularly well. What does she eat for breakfast, how does she answer her phone, what handbag does she choose each day, how does she walk to work?

So what am I going to do? Well, not discard anything, keep everything I have created but start to write again with renewed enthusiasm and insight and attention to fine detail. When I do finally have a name for my character, you will be the first to know!

Julie Cohen – – Dear Thing May 2014

Rowan Coleman – – The Memory Book Jan 2014

By Maggie Semple

Women’s Popular Fiction

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