After an initial email conversation with my mentor – award-winning author Sandra Glover (http://www.sandraglover.co.uk/) – it was decided that she would begin by looking at my synopsis and first three chapters, as this is what most agents and publishers ask for.
I have now received the marked-up version – this is where my mentor has added notes in the margin relating to specific points. Here she explains both what is working and what needs attention. Alongside this she has sent a short report.
I have to say that it wasn’t just a flutter of butterflies in my tummy, but a whole swarm of them as I clicked to open it. To my relief she had started on a positive note, saying “there is a lot of promising material here and the writing is lively and mainly accurate.” She also liked my “zany ideas”.
The report then focused on two key areas to work on:
- To make sure that everything is shown through the main protagonist’s eyes
- Firming up the structure of the plot
To help with the first point, Sandra sent some very helpful supplementary notes on ‘showing not telling’. I thought that I had tried to do this throughout my manuscript, but having read the supplement and the mark-up, I can see that sometimes I am too authorial, rather than showing what the character is feeling/doing.
I have already begun redrafting the first three chapters. Although it is written in the third person, I am keeping to Gavin’s point of view all the time. Already I feel even more connected to him. I know what he will do and how he will react without having to think too hard. Changing bits to show the action is not as difficult as I thought it would be. It was a case of reading the supplement and kicking myself for not having done more of it before.
On the second point, again Sandra sent a supplement on plot. I had tried to stick to the ‘Hero’s journey’ when planning my story. At this stage I am not sure whether it is just that I haven’t made the plot as clear as I could in my synopsis or whether there are flaws that need addressing. I will use the template that she has given me for the synopsis to see if I can make the plot clearer. Doing this, alongside the supplement on plotting, will help me to see where the weaknesses lie. One suggestion was to begin in a slightly different place and so far this seems to be working well. It is following a more logical route than it was before.
Working on these three chapters has some way to go yet, but I wanted to try some things out before skying Sandra to discuss it.
So far, mentoring is just what I hoped it would be. I can’t wait to learn more to grow my story and add sparkle.