I had the oddest dream last night. I dreamed that I had returned to Salford University, to attend a two day course on how to write stories with a film noir flavour. However, I was unaware of this until after I had arrived, at 7am, to be told that the course had already begun at 5am. I was given directions to find my accommodation, and told to return once I had settled in, when all would be made clear, and people would be prepared to answer my questions. I set off to find my room, trundling my suitcase behind me. But the campus was not as I remembered it; it had become one vast white rambling building, with irregular shaped windows, flights of stairs that went nowhere, and vast interconnected rooms painted in desert shades of pink and blue. The few people I met as I wandered around could neither tell me how to find my room, nor answer any of my other questions. And of course, I awoke before I found either the room or answers.
This afternoon, I read an article from last Saturday’s Telegraph, Guilty Pleasures: How to write a Mills & Boon. This is not something I have ever felt tempted to try, although I will admit to having devoured a few while in my teens. I also had to read a few whilst in my early twenties, when I was (briefly) a young mature student at Salford University, as part of the module on popular culture (along with Neuromancer, which naturally I had already read, and Hollywood Husbands which made me want to spit nails); the upshot of which was a highly cynical and mildly entertaining essay on the social compliance of the Mills & Boon format. I won’t bore you with it here, but suffice to say it was an arrogant piece of polemic, unafraid to state the case as contentiously as possible, with quite a few juicy quotes serving to illustrate my point. I’m still rather proud of it, I will admit, but I am also humbler; as a writer, the boot is definitely on the other foot. I appreciate now the importance of writing to suit a particular market, even though I have yet to find mine. Perhaps I should consider writing something with a film noir flavour?