This morning I had my first Skype meeting with my mentor, Sandra Glover, from Cornerstones Literacy Consultancy. It was fantastic!

We began by discussing the re-drafted first three chapters. To my great joy and relief, Sandra was very complimentary about the changes I’d made so far, from the advice she’d given me in the report.

  • Staring in a different place is working well. It definitely grabs the reader’s attention
  • Rather than ‘telling’ what the character is doing there is now much more action
  • I’d worked hard at making sure that it was all from the main characters point of view and this had really improved too.

There are still a few things to work on:

  • Checking the main characters thoughts are in the right tense;
  • Keeping the writing tight e.g. ‘He shrugged,’ rather than, ‘He shrugged his shoulders.
  • Sticking to ‘said’ rather than words like ‘mouthed’.
  • The occasion cliché (e.g. ‘gritted teeth’) still need changing.

Over all Sandra said that my writing is good and in places excellent! This is really reassuring and encouraging.

The rest of the Skype meeting was spent discussing how to firm-up the plot. When I signed up for mentoring, this was the area which I felt I needed help with and this is proving to be the case. It is astonishing how much can be learnt in a 25/30 minute discussion! The main ideas are there, but I need to work on raising the stakes.

We had a great chat about more plausible reasons why the main character acts as he does. Character motivation and therefore how he would react in different situations was also explored. Ideas bounced between us. What was so lovely was how Sandra was totally on board with the zany, bonkers world I’ve created. Some of her ideas tied in really well with thoughts I’d already had.

This led to seeing how to raise the stakes and what obstacles could be put in the way. The main character already faces many obstacles, but I need to think more about the progression of these; in other words, how to make the obstacles get bigger each time. Sandra told me to bear in mind the following for each scene:

  • What?
  • Why?
  • How does the character react?
  • What does this lead to next?

This should give a stronger sense of escalation.

My head is buzzing with ideas! The next stage is for me to write a 4 or 5 page synopsis of the new, improved plot. I can’t wait …


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