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katiemac
04-12-2005, 10:13 PM
Welcome to Mentoring, everyone!

In a ploy to elicit some more traffic over here, and more mentors for you, I want to try to compile an overall list of traits you'd like to see in a mentor. These ideas can range anywhere from the amount of time you'd like your mentor to help you with your work, to influence ideas, editing aid, or prerequisite knowledge.

Hopefully, if we get enough participation we can set up a list so prospective mentors might be more aware of what they're expected to do. Since taking on a mentee seems off-hand like a daunting task, if we set up some loose guidelines we might get some more players.

If all goes well, we might even be able to set up an archive list of willing mentors and their specializations.

Okay, go!

JustRite
04-13-2005, 06:15 AM
I am venturing into new territory so it will help to be guided by someone who has done this before. I am not looking for handholding or spoonfeeding - just some quick answers to questions I might have, a nudge in the right direction, some tips - so I can benefit from those who have gone before me.

I don't necessarily care about the resume - if you feel that you can help me, that's great!

Katie, thanks for your post!

Sonya
04-13-2005, 07:21 AM
Hi JustRite,

What are you looking for? While I'm not that far up the published writer chain, I'm not exactly a newbie either. Do you have some specific questions I might be able to answer for you?

Sonya

katiemac
04-14-2005, 10:20 PM
JustRite, thanks for responding.

As for everyone else -- I know you guys are reading this thread. ;) View numbers are giving you all away. If you don't want to play, that's all right, but I posted this originally to try to help you guys out with more mentors. I don't like seeing a lot of your threads go unanswered.

So what can I do? Guilt? Blackmail? Chocolate? Rep points? Yep, I've got tons of rep points...

I'll open it up some more, see if that helps. If YOU were mentoring someone, what would you be able to contribute to them? Again, answer any way you want, but thinking about time restraints, knowledge, etc. might help you answer the question. We don't need specifics if you don't want to share. We can keep it general for now.

Sonya
04-15-2005, 03:30 AM
Did someone mention chocolate?? I'm in!

What could I offer as a mentor? Well...I think there are others higher up the chain than I am. However, I'm not completely new to freelance writing and will be glad to share what little I know. Mistakes to avoid-and I've probably made them all...

And...I love learning from others who have walked the road ahead of me.

Sonya

JustRite
04-15-2005, 07:38 AM
Hi JustRite,

What are you looking for? While I'm not that far up the published writer chain, I'm not exactly a newbie either. Do you have some specific questions I might be able to answer for you?

Sonya

Hi Sonya,
I am trying to get a foot in the door with fillers, interviews, articles etc.

Basically, I want to get started writing tips for magazines and also want to query parenting publications since I am having a baby in June - thought I could write from my experiences. I would like to know how do I go about pitching and researching an article such as 20 must-haves for your newborn etc.. I know I will need to have quotes or tips from women all over America.

Thanks,

lscoffman
04-15-2005, 03:59 PM
I have self-published one novel and two children's picture books. I need advice on being successful in self-publishing and I also want to know what other paying markets could make me a full-time writer?
Also, is there really good money in copywriting or am I just reading some good copy?
Thanks for your time,
L. S. Coffman

Humourwriter
04-15-2005, 04:08 PM
Would it be worthwhile trying to get a list together of people's names, and the kind of help they think they could offer to people?

For example, I like to think I can add humour to just about anything, and I can also tighten up text to within an inch (or 2.54 centimetres) of its life -- great if you're over your word count.

Bill.

aka eraser
04-15-2005, 07:03 PM
Would it be worthwhile trying to get a list together of people's names, and the kind of help they think they could offer to people?

For example, I like to think I can add humour to just about anything, and I can also tighten up text to within an inch (or 2.54 centimetres) of its life -- great if you're over your word count.

Bill.

Bill, check out the new Research thread here. (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=66)

Sonya
04-15-2005, 07:58 PM
To research an article such as you mentioned (20 must-haves for your newborn) line up your quotes--I belong to an online writer's group with over 1300 women--that's how I get a lot of my quotes-- if you'd like the name of the group, send me a message and I'll be happy to send it to you.

If joining an online group isn't an option for you, contact your local hospital and speak with a nurse or supervisor on the maternity ward. Tell them you're a freelance writer working on an article you plan to pitch and ask them if they could answer some questions. Most people are happy to do so.

There are also pediatrician's offices--talk to someone there. Also day care centers, churches... look under baby in your yellow pages, check out websites geared for parents.

When it comes to pitching the article, present the query letter in a way that makes the editor realize that even if they've covered the topic before, your article offers the same advice in a new and interesting way. Think about all the articles you've seen on one particular subject. Nothing new under the sun, just new ways to tell about it.

Mridu Khullar offers a free email query course on her website www.writerscrossing.com (http://www.writerscrossing.com) in case anyone's interested.

Hope this helps,

Sonya

Sonya
04-15-2005, 08:08 PM
I have self-published one novel and two children's picture books. I need advice on being successful in self-publishing and I also want to know what other paying markets could make me a full-time writer?
Also, is there really good money in copywriting or am I just reading some good copy?
Thanks for your time,
L. S. Coffman

I don't have any experience in the self-publishing field or copywriting. Markets won't make you a full time writer, only you can do that. Check out markets that interest you with The Writer's Market (print or online version), AbsoluteWrite has a market list, organizedwriter website, Novel and Short Story Writer's Market, Preditors and Editors...it all depends on what you're looking for.

Sonya

Kudra
04-16-2005, 12:18 AM
I think a mentor should have publishing credits and experience in the field, whether that's non-fiction, novels, greeting cards or whatever. A person who isn't a published novelist, for instance, just can't be a mentor for aspiring novelists. Period.

Sonya
04-16-2005, 03:12 AM
KitKat,

Are you talking to me? Because if you are, I have experience --I've been published in both fiction and nonfiction. I don't have experience in copywriting--that's what I was talking about. I also have never self published a book, so I can't help with that either and I was very up front about that.

I agree with you and think it's wise that writers seek mentors who are published in the area in which they wish to become published.

Sonya

Kudra
04-16-2005, 03:37 AM
Nope Sonya, I wasn't talking about you at all. :Hug2: What I said was in response to katiemac's original post in which she asked us to compile an overall list of traits that we'd like to see in mentors.

Sorry if it came across that way!

Sonya
04-16-2005, 03:52 AM
LOL. I sat here scratching my head wondering if I'd said something wrong.

When I was completely green to freelance writing, I decided that I could go straight to the top and query the big magazines (shaking head at my ignorance). I sent the editor a query, told her what I had and asked her point blank if she wanted it.

Thank goodness she was very kind and gracious and said she might be able to use it in the future. When I sent her the photos she requested, I sent them in with beautiful, decorative paper and registered the letter. Sigh.

Sonya

JustRite
04-16-2005, 07:49 AM
Hi Sonya,
Thanks a lot! I really appreciate your help and it makes a lot of sense to me. This is exactly why I needed a mentor. I really appreciate your help.

I tried to give you a rep point but it won't let me.
:(

Thanks again and can you please PM the link to the online writer's group you mentioned?

Again, many thanks!

JustRite
04-16-2005, 07:55 AM
For example, I like to think I can add humour to just about anything, and I can also tighten up text to within an inch (or 2.54 centimetres) of its life -- great if you're over your word count.

Bill.

Bill, I do really believe you - I just hopped over to your website and loved, loved, loved this week's column.

IWrite
04-22-2005, 11:26 PM
I don't necessarily agree with KitKat that publishing credits are a requirement.

One of the best screenwriting mentors I ever had was a producer - not a writer. He didn't have the ability to write himself, but he had an incredible understanding of story, character and structure.

Agents, editors, publishers - often can't write a novel - but they know what makes writing work. Same goes for many teachers.

And just because you know how to do something well, does not necessarily mean you have the ability to pass that knowledge on to others - or give good criticism.

The most successful screenwriter I know is incapable of giving good feedback on other people's scripts. He's very successful, does what he does very well, but would make a lousy mentor.

CCOhio
05-02-2005, 04:54 AM
Hmnn...Well, I think I do need someone, on occassion, to hold my hand.

For example, I signed on as a writer at Constant Content and read the latest content requests. Of course, I believe I have a great idea that really hasn't been posted, yet (I'm sure its just a matter of time). These articles seem really short - 500 words - do I need quotes? If I see something from another on-line article, can I quote it without asking? If so, do I credit the website or the author? Finally, would someone mind reading the finished product (when its done) for me and giving some good, hard feedback? I read some "immature" leads on the site and would like to avoid that pitfall.

I know this is specific to Constant Content, but as I attempt to build a portfolio of clips I'll have tons of "baby step" questions like this one.

Unique
05-02-2005, 02:37 PM
Welcome to Mentoring, everyone!

In a ploy to elicit some more traffic over here, and more mentors for you, I want to try to compile an overall list of traits you'd like to see in a mentor. These ideas can range anywhere from the amount of time you'd like your mentor to help you with your work, to influence ideas, editing aid, or prerequisite knowledge.


Okay, go!

I have the ideas; I have the ability. I don't have the, ahem...'bum glue'. I look to a mentor to hold my feet to the fire; I want someone to tell me, 'this is good, this is weak, and what the heck is that doing in there?' Is that asking a lot from a mentor? Maybe. But the accountability factor is primo for me. When I know someone is waiting to see my words at X time on Y day - - I find it quite motivational!!
What? I don't need a mentor but a psychiatrist? ya think?

Nateskate
05-03-2005, 04:26 AM
Wow, I think I'd have liked someone to write a series of books, stamp my name on it, dropped off the royalty check, and then coach me ten minutes before the Oprah show, "What did I write again? Could you spell that for me?"

I have a friend who is a famous author. My friends urged me to contact him for his assistance. And it was tempting, but he had a serious illness, and I thought it was just horrible timing.

Now, having been forced to write and re-write my own story, I'm forced to admit I wasn't as good a writer as I thought I was (when I started), but now I'm feeling comfortable with my own prose. I'm actually forced to grow.

Whether published or not, we all want positive feedback from someone.

The perfect mentor knows more than we know. But this is a Genre specific craft, which also means they need to know something pertaining to what we want to know. I just found out a friend owns a publishing co. Nah, they don't publish fantasy, so I'm not even going to ask.

Honestly, the board already has mentors. I will only name a few. Jenna. Jim. Victoria. How many countless people have these people helped simply by answering questions here?

Back to the perfect mentor. Patient. Honest, but in such a way to encourage, and not discourage. Some people have this knack for being overly critical. Some can't see the art through the mistakes, so they really have a knack for over correcting.

For instance. Beginning writers make common mistakes, and sometimes you can explain how to consolidate, or eliminate words without flaying them. (Cutting them open) Sometimes taking what they said and saying it back in a simpler more efficient form is all it takes for lightbulbs to go off.

"Oh, so the thought is okay, and there's an art to making it flow?" And then they begin taking that and making changes on their own.

Here's a tip for mentors. Generally speaking, if you are always picking this apart, then that apart, honestly, you aren't mentoring, you are bordering being an abusive parent.

You know how it goes. "I'm really doing you a favor by telling you what an idiot you are. The world is tough, and I'm just preparing you!"

In the tongue is the power of life and death, and obviously, the pen is just a stiff little tongue with an ink cartridge. Most people aren't going to be harmed by constructive criticism, but people can be harmed by mindless criticism.

"Well, I've saved them from a big mistake." Generally speaking you have several types of people. Delusional people will never be helped by telling them the honest truth. They're delusional. That's a part of the diagnosis. But the majority of inexperienced writers aren't delusional, they're just hopeful. They benefit by a balanced perspective, which means, "I see your idea, and where you want to go with it." And then you do what parents generally do. That is find one thing at a time to help them with.

Any parent that tries to mold their kid into anything overnight is an idiot who will only drive them into the pavement. But if you teach them one thing at a time, 1) You make them glad to see you. 2) You actually do them some good. 3) In time they often surprise you, because positive constructive feedback is a great motivator.

Just some thoughts.

Sonya
05-05-2005, 04:21 AM
Wow, I think I'd have liked someone to write a series of books, stamp my name on it, dropped off the royalty check, and then coach me ten minutes before the Oprah show, "What did I write again? Could you spell that for me?"

LOL-love that! I agree with you. When I first started writing and found out that people would actually pay me, I was so shocked and ecstatic. I remember crying when I first heard the news.

I joined a writer's group and though the information I gleaned there was very helpful, one woman in particular took her valuable time to answer my questions and gently guided me away from some mistakes I was making. I didn't even know it was called mentoring but that's exactly what she did for me. If she would have been overly critical, she would have destroyed what teeny amount of writing confidence I did have.

That was a great post, Nateskate.

Sonya

Nateskate
05-05-2005, 08:17 PM
LOL-love that! I agree with you. When I first started writing and found out that people would actually pay me, I was so shocked and ecstatic. I remember crying when I first heard the news.

I joined a writer's group and though the information I gleaned there was very helpful, one woman in particular took her valuable time to answer my questions and gently guided me away from some mistakes I was making. I didn't even know it was called mentoring but that's exactly what she did for me. If she would have been overly critical, she would have destroyed what teeny amount of writing confidence I did have.

That was a great post, Nateskate.

Sonya

Thanks for your comments. As far as mentors vs critics, a mentor is really looking out for you, and wants you to succeed. If I was really in over my head, I'd want them to tell me so that I wasn't wasting my time. I don't want to be believe a lie, if my being a writer will never happen, because I could spend my time doing something else of value.

However, a mentor wouldn't be out to crush me. In a sense, through wisdom, they could guide me toward my strengths, because mentors always consider you are a person.

A critic feels like they have a license to tell you everything that strikes them as wrong, even if its things that are taste specific. Heck, I hate 80 percent of the fantasies I pick up, but I love fantasy. Well, someone is buying those eighty percents. In fact, I'm not a big fan of some famous fantasy writers.

What if someone here is the next great fantasy writer. As a critic, if I don't like it, I can blast the snot out of it. "Oh, it's too elaborate. No one will get it. Your prose is too long winded. Could you just get to the point!"

Well, if they don't have a lot of confidence, they might think, "Hey, he knows what he's talking about," when in fact, I'm giving a needlessly critical evaluation based on my own tastes.

I think if people want to evaluate other people's works, it's best to look past the obvious clutter, to the core of what they are saying. In a sense, you want to find out what they are saying, and help them say it better. If you aren't even looking for the point, but saying, "This sentence stinks. That sentence you should cut. Wow, that whole paragraph didn't do it for me."

Well, yes. That person may not quite know how to voice their thoughts in good prose, but if you couldn't even comment positively on their thoughts, and intentions first, then in a sense, that kind of criticism wounds, and leaves people discouraged.

I volunteered as a coach in basketball. One of my gifts was breaking down what people were doing wrong (Mechanically) and showing them how to do it right. That included so many simple things, like standing the right way. We took a group of middle school kids who didn't win a game, and put them in a summer league. They only lost one game, to a team of all stars. They beat the best team in the league 56 to 11, and we had to tell our players to let up, to allow the other team to reach double figures.

You have to have the insight to see what is possible, and not simply what they are doing wrong. Then you have to find a way to put it into words they understand. But if you say, "You really stink", its over. They stop trying. But if I say, "You are far better than you think. If you are willing to work at this, in a year, you will be good enough to start," they will throw themselves into what you are saying.

I'll start here. If someone is writing, and comes to these boards, then the issue isn't whether they are great or whether they stink. The issue is "What do you have to say?" If you feel you have something important to say, I'd give you the benefit of the doubt. I'm more convinced than ever, that some writers are like natural athletes. They simply jump and run fast. Prose and grammar come naturally. Well, I've coached kids who were not natural athletes, but had determination and a smart mind. They picked things up. And there was little satisfaction greater than taking a bunch of people who thought they were losers, and make them winners. And they look in the eyes of those who thought they stunk, defeating them, and delighting to prove them wrong. That really has to be the mindest of a mentor.

Yikes, I'm not volunteering to mentor anyone in writing, in that I probably could use a mentor. But I do see people who are talented around here, who simply have to believe in themselves, and figure out a few tricks, and they'll be writing with the best of them.

Savannah Blue
05-06-2005, 08:50 AM
I don't know what kind of qualifications I would need in a mentor, but I want a mentor because right now my writing S U C K S and I want it to be better, hehe. I have a manuscript finished and have been advised to chunk it and start all over again. While that may be good advice, it's just not something I'm able to do right now. It may turn out in the end that that's exactly what will have happened, but I want to get from where I am now to where I want to be in the future. I just don't know how to get from here to there on my own.

I have recently begun writing for an online content site and have successfully sold four articles without having been asked to do any rewrites. I keep telling myself that has to mean something and maybe I'm not as bad a writer as I see myself being.

I think I could benefit a great deal from a mentor.

Sara

Unique
05-06-2005, 01:30 PM
Don't chuck it. Nobody died and left them God. Put it in a box in the closet for 6 months. On CD or floppy A? Even better. It won't take up valuable sweater space.
After the 6 months are up, yank out a dozen pages at random. Don't cheat, don't peek, don't worry about paragraphs, chapters or anything else. RANDOM.

Read it over with a red pencil. Did you still like it? Did you fix anything? Has anyone else edited it yet?

It may stay in the closet for the rest of your natural life - BUT - and I speak from experience here - Don't - DO NOT throw it away! True, the writing may suck - but the premise of the story might be a real gem. If you throw it away I can about guarantee you'll remember that story from 'back in the day' and wish you had kept it. (Just trust me, here.):Headbang:

It's your story. Don't kill your chickens before they're hatched unless you just really like omelets.

:Lecture: Lecture over....as she slinks away.....:gone:

Paolo
05-08-2005, 01:59 AM
I'm looking for a combination of hand-holding and butt-kicking, but no spoon-feeding. Basically, I'd like to have someone who could point me down the right path and give a little shove when I need it.

The archetypal mentors I already see on this site take the form of Auntie Victoria, Uncle Jim and Jenna Glatzer herself. If they'd like to take on a protege, I'm askin'. Of course , 90% of the people on this site probably feel that way.

To me, another great mentor (or two for the price of one) would be an established editor like the Nielsen Haydens of TOR books. I'm primarily a sci-fi writer, so I'd like someone in that field.

Then again, I've come this far on my own. I have my own style that I've developed partially by intuition and partly from general reading. I might go on better just by adjusting my focus and getting more discipline and treating writing like a career.

There is a ton of wisdom on this site alone. Coupled with drive and hard work, this place itself might serve as mentor.

Well, those are my thoughts on mentoring. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Cathy C
06-06-2005, 05:51 AM
Okay, I'm new, but I've been wandering for a bit through here, and have something to add:

There are two types of mentors. One is sort of a "drive-by" mentor, who answers questions when asked, pushes in the right direction when you're at an intersection and generally is a "rah-rah" cheerleader.

The other type of mentor is a daily hand-holder who will look at every single thing that you do and give line by line comments until it's perfect.

Unfortunately, as a full-time writer and author, I don't have time for the daily stuff. I'm a drive-by mentor. I'm happy to help, and do so on a lot of boards. Even though I've only been doing this professionally for about four years, I've racked up plenty of credentials -- 25 national feature articles, two anthologies, one trade paperback fiction, and two mass paperback fiction on the shelf, three more out next year (5 of them with a NY publisher), plus newspaper work and some regional articles. I teach workshops, classes and seminars, etc., etc. It's all on our website (I co-author with another person on my stuff. http://www.ciecatrunpubs.com (http://www.ciecatrunpubs.com/) )

But, the trick is that most mentees aren't really sure WHAT they need. They know they need SOMETHING, or they would already be published! But the trick is to know what. Everyone needs something slightly different, so it's all a matter of finding the right something.

So, here's my deal. I simply don't have the time to "mentor" one or two people exclusively and take them through the whole process. But I can answer questions about nearly anything in the publishing process, from queries to synopses to agents, copyedits, galleys, marketing, promo and beyond. I can write lectures so you ALL can learn the basics. :Lecture: So, anyone who wants to ask questions, do so and I'll answer them. But one mentee? :Shrug: Sorry. Not nearly enough time in the day. I'm on deadline for my next manuscript, plus doing two workshops and writing two articles for the aforementioned publications.

If anyone is interested, maybe we can do an ongoing topic of "mentor questions" that all of us mentors can answer in.

Hope that helps some! :)