Friday, October 24, 2008


I’ve got my first report back from my mentor. It came last night while we were watching The Dark Knight on the hotel’s big screen. I wasn’t much interested in Batman but in the spirit of being sociable … once my Blackberry flashed and I saw it was from my mentor that was it. Husband said ‘You’d better text me and let me know if it’s safe to come upstairs.’

So what was it like?

I have a good eye for detail. This works for and against me: I have to learn when to desist from shovelling more and more on with a spade. Less is more.

Sometimes I write with ‘great verve’ and sometimes I try too hard and it sounds ‘pedestrian.’ *winces* I wonder if I can work out which passages are which.

If I cannot come up with a simile or metaphor which says, with originality, exactly what I want it to say, I shouldn’t use one. When I have come up with a corker, I should desist from shovelling more and more on with a spade. I should also abstain from repeating myself when I think I’ve said something clever!

My main character needs more work. My more minor characters are shaping up nicely.

My dialogue is on the whole strong. I have a good ear for the way people talk at cross purposes and fail to finish sentences. My long dialogue scene between Marina and Jean is excellent, and Marina’s response is totally believable.

My mentor enjoyed my story. She thought it was a good read with the promise of some really good conflict. She is interested in the characters and wants to know what will become of them.

So very useful: assuming I can identify the pedestrian from the ‘great verve.’ It would be absolutely typical of me to edit out all the great verve and leave in the dull. My other main concern is the development of the main character.


Carol and Chris said...

What an absolutely fantastic start!!! She said that you write with 'great verve' that must have been fantastic to hear and hon, if your minor characters are coming along nicely then you will get there with your main one so don't stress too much!!

I demand that you celebrate your achievement so far cause your doing brilliantly!!

C x

Debs said...

I think that's a great report, well done, you must be pleased.

How wonderful that your tutor enjoyed reading your work and had so many positive things to say, I agree with Carol, you must celebrate.

Caroline said...

Sounds so exciting for you!

Can you ask you ask her to illustrate the pedestrian from the great verve? I take it that you have an overall report and not a close edit of the submission? If so, ask for examples, just to make it all clear in your mind.

I really love that you're so enthused by it all.


JJ said...

Carol, thanks hon. Yeah, it was good in that it gave me definite pointers to what I do well and what I do less well.

Debs, yes, unfortunately I've been fighting a migraine these last two days! But I managed a beer or three yesterday.

Caroline, yes an overall report not an edit of the text. It was very useful, and I emailed back to discuss exactly that : the verve from the tedium... (and a few other points) so it's been cleared up. I need to think now, before I launch into the next bit, to absorb what she's said.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Beer is medicinal, definitely. JJ, that sounds like a really helpful, constructive report that's bang on the nail. You're sensible to take a few days to let it sink in. But then it'll be hey for the next 10,000 words! Really glad it's so positive.

SueG said...

I also think it's a great report and shows that the reader really spent time with the piece...and liked it! I also agree that not jumping in right away but letting it all settle in your head is a good idea, then when you go back to make your edits, you can just read it from the start without her comments sitting next to you, and see what changes YOU start to think need making. Well done. I hope you're pleased and letting your husband go upstairs :-)

sheepish said...

Oh that sounds really helpful constructive and encouraging. well done so far.

L-Plate Author said...

JJ, when someone points something out to you, you just know what to do. I always worry about it but look at my last edit. I cut over 20K but it has suddenly sprang to life. Before I did it my mentor said I had flashes of brilliance....amongst a lot of drab...

You will know what to do hun x

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, that sounds really encouraging :)

Leigh said...

Oh, that's good. That's really good. Some nice praise to prove that you can write, and some pointers for what to work on too. Perfect.
Well done. Clever Girl.

B said...

What everyone else said, with the addition of well done on the dialogue comment - so many people get that wrong. It's a real achievement to get such good feedback on that. Here's to the next 10000 words :)