A Self-Mentoring Checklist for Novelists

How I Self-Edit My Novels: 15 Steps From First Draft to Publication
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Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. During a seminar explaining the mentorship scheme at one of the writers' centres, I mentioned that I begin the selection process by discarding manuscripts that don't need a mentor, which gave some of the audience the impression that we were letting publishable writers think they weren't even worth a mentorship.

I had to explain that as a mentor of young adult fiction, I see a lot of genre fiction that fits the genre okay but isn't worth developing further, which is more denigratory than I like to be in an introductory session. Then again, that raised an important issue. Mentorship schemes should indeed have some sort of procedure for telling applicants that their work is already of publishable standard - although 'publishable standard' isn't a guarantee of publication, so that's not quite as simple as it sounds.

I remember a mentorship I undertook at the experimental stage of these schemes for a new writer whose novel in progress was autobiographical. The biggest problem we had was that its material took her up to the present day, and as her life and her take on her life kept changing, she could not commit to what the basic material of her novel was, and kept wanting to take its scope into the newest phase of her life. At the time you remarked, if I remember rightly, that autobiographical novels were unsuitable; have I got that right?

Step #2: The Daily Edit

The writers' centres I've worked with have told me that other mentors had similar problems with autobiographical writing, sometimes because the writer was too close to the work and got defensive about suggested changes. As far as I know, I've only once worked on a directly autobiographical novel and in that case, the writer wanted to move away from memoir, towards a novel that was more independent of their own experience, so there wasn't any conflict between their intentions and my area of expertise - i. Other mentorships I have done have been with writers who have some kind of 'track record': How experienced should a new writer be to qualify for mentoring?

I haven't found experience to be particularly relevant. Some of my mentees are working on their first extended piece of writing: On the other hand, some applicants include quite extensive CVs - stories that won competitions and the like - but don't show the same originality in the manuscript they've submitted. I always make my judgement on the basis of the manuscript itself, not on the basis of the writer's track record. As I said above, a publishable manuscript is one of my aims. I don't expect to achieve this every time but I don't see any point in working with someone, unless they're trying to communicate - that is, unless they're writing for readers.

That's not a value judgement: I can definitely understand why a writer might spend time experimenting, with no particular readers or outlets in mind. However, I wouldn't know how to assess that kind of writing - in fact, I'd question whether my assessment would be of any benefit: As a mentor, I call on everything I've learned as a writer - but since I essentially come to the manuscript as a reader, one of my preconditions for mentorship is that the mentee wants readers, which in a market economy means that they want to sell their book to a publisher. I think of my autobiographical first-time unpublished new novelist - the potentially never-ending project.

The mentorship might have been of great value to that person in their understanding of how a writer works or even as an exercise in personal development. How do we measure the success of any particular mentorship? Well, the bottom line is that, if the mentee gets something out of it, then the mentorship has been successful. As a mentor, I feel as though the mentorship has worked if the mentee finishes the project: So the mentorship can work as a kind of turning-point at which the new writer makes a commitment to the writing life that might have been more of a flirtation till then?

Can a mentorship be seen as successful in a different way if the new writer discovers that they cannot after all make that commitment? Has that ever happened? I haven't had any mentees so far who didn't finish the nominated project.

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As for whether finishing the project made them decide that the game wasn't worth the candle, that could only be ascertained by follow up, which would be better done by the Writers' Centres than by me. As I think I've said before, I don't nag - and asking 'Have you sent the book to lots of publishers? Have you started your next book?

The Difference Between Showing vs. Telling

Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. What part does gender play in this? I want to get better. Self-guided writing groups Find a group of writers to meet in person or online to read and workshop your work. I guess I'm looking for strong central premises - or unusual and engaging characters - or a flair for language - or writers who already show, rather than tell. For one thing, she's crazy about Sherlock Holmes. Nice job, quickly and effectively done.

People's lives often take over for a while, on their way to full-time writing. I've had mentees who've been temporarily derailed by personal griefs and difficulties, work promotions, discouragement after rejections and the like As a mentor, I work with what the writer wants to do.

10 steps to making this author thing happen for yourself.

I might read a manuscript, find one aspect of it unsatisfactory and suggest scrapping it - but if it turns out to be part of the writer's main reason for writing the book, I turn round and start figuring out ways to make that aspect more effective. Editors, conversely, are preparing a book for publication, so it's their business to suggest ways to make it more accessible to a range of readers and more marketable, which may or may not fit with the writers' intentions. However, I should add that I checked this theory with my current editor, who said, 'True Teaching writing - in my opinion, okay?

Since I don't like generalisations at the best of times and, at the worst, see them as actively harmful, I don't teach writing However, I've had a fair few friends and mentees who started to believe they couldn't write, because they didn't write the way their teacher did. As a mentor, I'm making specific comments about a specific manuscript.

Since I start from the medico's principle, 'first, do no harm,' I feel that the potential for damage in mentoring is considerably less. Well, you did take on the supervision of a creative writing MA, right? So did you do anything differently there, see your role there differently?

5 Reasons You Need a Writing Mentor — And How to Find One

No, I wasn't the supervisor, so much as the back up. My friend - the one who wanted to be able to ask me for more readings than he felt friendship covered - got me a consultant's fee: I covered most of the creative stuff and the supervisor made sure it was in line with the college's rules and regulations. So basically I just did the same thing I do as a mentor.

It seems to me the difference is that in mentorships the aim is a publishable manuscript, and in supervision it's a manuscript that will get passed by examiners - not quite the same thing perhaps! And the supervision relationship goes on much longer, though there will most likely be more and longer periods without contact. Yes, paradoxically, creative writing courses are part of the reason why we need mentorship schemes. I've already talked about the effect of the downsizing in the publishing industry but, as a result of the proliferation of writing courses, editors also have way more manuscripts landing on their desks than in the 70s, when I started out, so [publishers are] trying to do more with less.

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I've heard creative writing lecturers say they set students the task of submitting a manuscript to a publisher, to give them practice with submissions, even when the lecturer doesn't consider the manuscript publishable. To me, that sounds unfair to both the students and the publishers.

My Creative Writing MA mate was definitely aiming for publication - and it worked: I assume that the writers who don't apply for mentoring schemes have made a self-assessment that they wouldn't benefit from having a mentor - although I've begun to realise that a lot of writers haven't heard much about the schemes or don't really understand the concept of mentoring, so I may have to revise this assumption.


A Self-Mentoring Checklist for Novelists - Kindle edition by Paula Berinstein. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. A Self-Mentoring Checklist for Novelists has 3 ratings and 0 reviews. Writing Show producer and host Paula B. shares the checklist she uses to evaluate h.

However, one of the ways in which I keep myself honest as a mentor is through my hobby of fanfiction i. This is an utterly personal form of writing, where the first audience is oneself and the widest audience is a closed community of like-minded fans. While the writers in my fandom are definitely interested in craft matters, almost all of them are much more picky about the feedback I give them than my mentees are. They're writing what they want to write and they don't intend to change it for anyone. So I figure there must be plenty of mainstream writers who feel the same way, which helps me keep my mentoring in perspective - that is, it works because the mentees want it to work, as much as anything I read more applications from women than men, though this may reflect the area I work in: I suspect that a lot more women than men write for younger readers.

Would all writers be good at mentoring or are there specific qualifications - and if so, what? Some writers feel that, if they became too self-conscious about what they're doing, they'd lose the ability to do it. I can't imagine that this approach to writing would combine well with mentoring. I've got an academic background, I do a lot of reviewing and I've spent a lot of time giving feedback to friends and acquaintances, all of which means I've had several decades of putting my reactions to what I read into words: However, having said this, I also think that mentoring by a writer would have to be qualitatively different than mentoring by an experienced reader who doesn't write themselves.

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