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mentor

In Search For a Writing Mentor

It is not just a question of having or not having your own writing mentor. The real question here is: Do you really need a mentor or could you do without one? Opinions vary from writer to writer. But first, let’s take a closer look at what mentoring a writer is.

When we say “mentor”, it is synonymous to a “guide” or “counselor”. He/She is someone who could give sound advice not just on our writing career but also on life in general; someone who has been there and done that and has inspired you to become a better writer.

Most likely, the mentor a writer has in mind could be someone who is well-known or experienced, who have written and published numerous articles, stories, or novels, and probably still be busy writing his/her next book. How could that mentor squeeze in time for mentoring is something the mentor can only determine.

Another common source for writing mentors is from the field of education. Teachers, professors, and even workshop instructors are always ready to act as someone’s writing mentor because it is innate in their personality and job.

I don’t have a mentor in the strict definition. I take as much advice and inspiration as I can from the people I am close to.Natalie Massenet

Mentoring follows three stages which are:

  1. To lead — It starts with the mentor leading the mentoree the way, teaching what and what not to do most of the time.
  2. To follow through — The mentor will let the writer do things on his/her own, following through the steps — this time giving advice, commenting, giving suggestions, etc.  , and
  3. To let go — When the mentor feels that the writer is successful and can do things independently without him/her, the mentor starts to let go.

But the relationship doesn’t end there. The friendship still continues.

On the other hand, there are people who don’t maintain this kind of mentor-mentoree relationship with someone. These writers would just take advice from different sources and take it from there. They are too independent that they don’t need to be followed through. Others are those who had a bad experience with mentoring before that they decide to do things on their own instead. Which brings me back to my question: Do you really need a mentor or could you do without one?

Every writer would claim to have been taught and inspired by someone to write and be the person and writer he/she is now and would consider that someone as a mentor. To maintain a professional mentoring relationship with someone is his/her own choice.

research

Who Cares? Just Make It Up! It’s Fiction.

As a fiction writer, that title is something easy to say. But as a journalist, writing should be based on facts.

I’m not a professional journalist but I’ve been a news writer and managing editor for our school paper back in college. Writing news follows an inverted pyramid pattern and has to be factual and up-to-date. With that kind of training, my logical side has this tendency to put down facts in my fiction, yet my creative side wants to mangle with these facts to bring out an incredible story.

But readers nowadays could tell if a novel or story was well-researched or not. And once a reader had sensed a not-so-well-researched story, he or she could drop the novel and walk away.

All writers will agree that even crime fiction writing still needs to be researched. An author should take time to look for facts regarding characters, places, events, business establishments, and even the industry where these characters work. It could be by reading books and other printed materials, watching films and videos, or interviewing experts on the subject matter. Whatever kind of research and information related to the story has to be taken in and noted down.

Most of the time, I have more information than what I need or would use in the actual novel. But that’s okay, better to get the facts straight first and discard the unnecessary information afterwards.

How much research will I put in my fiction? I would say enough to make the characters, places, events, or business establishments realistic and logical for the readers to relate with. At the same time, something enough to provide me the creative liberty to put in fictional elements to make a story become larger than life.

Research should be used more as background information to give me the confidence to write about the story without sounding too ignorant or too all-knowing.

I’m taking my time to do research for this novel I’m currently writing. Good thing I have a good set of reference books and an online writing tool that helps me map out my story as I research. I’m even contemplating to interview a criminal lawyer cum police officer. If you know someone I could talk to, feel free to contact me through this website.