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Della Parker takes us behind the scenes of The Reading Group

Writing my new series, The Reading Group, is one of the most exciting and challenging things I’ve ever done. This is partly because I am a panster, not a plotter. When I start writing a story I have no idea how it will develop. I begin with a character who has a problem, and away we go.

Reading Group - Bookends 2

When I began writing these novellas I knew from the outset what kind of stuff was likely to happen. This is because The Reading Group is based on a very simple idea.

Five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together to share their love of reading. Each month they take it in turns to pick a classic novel and each month one of the Reading Group discovers that her life suddenly seems to be running parallel to that month’s novel.

In December the Reading Group choose A Christmas Carol by Dickens. Grace, who’s about to be made homeless is dreading Christmas.

In January they choose Emma by Jane Austen. Anne Marie fancies herself to be a matchmaker, but she’s – erm – not exactly an expert Cupid!

In February they choose Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Laurence. Uh oh, Kate’s marriage is on the rocks and she has a hunky builder refurbishing her kitchen. Hold on to your hats, ladies!

Are you beginning to get the picture? Writing to this structure gave me a major advantage:

  1. I knew roughly what the plot of each novella would be. (This was a completely new way of writing for me.)

And two major disadvantages:

  1. I had to fit the plot of a full length novel into 30,000 words.
  2. I had to fit it into the time span of a month!

Phew! Yet ironically it was these very restraints that made the writing such fun. I didn’t want to copy the plot of the novels verbatim – where’s the fun in that! So I took what were, for me, the main elements of these beautiful classic stories and then I played around with them. I wanted to write my own contemporary versions with my own contemporary twists. I hope you like the results.

You can download December for free , and then January, February, March and April all for 99p.  – I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!


If you liked this post, then why not try…

Team Bookends explore bookish hygge: part 1, part 2, and part 3 

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle 

Emma Hannigan shares her delicious gingerbread cake recipe