This month, we encourage you to identify three to five mentor texts that you can use to improve your writing. A mentor text is a book written in the same genre as your story, targets the same audience or explores comparable themes. It can also be set in the same time period as your work-in-progress or feature characters that face similar conflicts. Spend the next weeks reading through your mentor texts to study how other writers crafted dialogue, navigated between scenes or ramped up drama. As you read, make notes of the things you liked. Share with us the texts you chose and what you discovered. Then, be on the lookout for future posts here that dig deeper into how to get the most out your mentor texts.
Select a point during the writing process, whether at 10,000 words, a quarter or halfway through your manuscript. When you reach that mark re-evaluate your characters motivations goals, strengths and weakness. Chances are they have changed since you started the manuscript. Make notes on what you will need to do when you’re ready to go back and revise.
This week, brainstorm the kind of music your character would like considering her personality, the time period of your story and her culture. Then, either while you’re gearing up to write or are writing, listen to the playlist.
If you’re working on a scene where your character needs to get angry, pick an incident from your past where you were furious and spend fifteen minutes writing about it before you sit down to work on your novel. The exercise will help you put yourself in your character’s place.
If you’re struggling to keep your story on track during a first draft or a revision, take a moment to write down the one thing–the feel, or theme or idea–that most inspired you to write that particular story in the first place. That’s the heart of your story. It’s the thing you most want people to carry away with them after they finish reading your story and the plumb line in every scene. By putting it into words, you’ll have a clearer idea of what choices your characters will need to make and what actions they’ll need to take in each scene to remain true to the heart of your story.