Writing Coach: The First Meeting

Last week I had my first meeting with my writing coach, Mike Martin. I thought it’d be interesting to document a few of these meetings, not only for myself, but for anyone who may be considering hiring a writing coach of their own (more about that here).

I sent Mike my first draft of the outline five days before our meet. This gave him enough opportunity to read through the outline a few times, to consider the material, and to make his notes. We scheduled a Skype call and then got down to it.

I recorded the call (with Mike’s permission) so that I wouldn’t have to be distracted with taking notes during our time, I could focus on what we were discussing.

We went through the outline chronologically and addressed his notes. He made a number of positive comments including the phrases “good instincts there” and “I love [this scene] and it pays off really well later” and “I’ve never seen that visual in a book before, love it”. Which was great to hear. Of course I’m excited about my story, but to hear someone else share a similar enthusiasm is very comforting.

However, the real purpose of our meet was to address the flaws. Mike showed me that one of my main characters was completely missing from the second act (oops!). The main protagonist needed to be more active in pushing her plot forward (something I knew, but wasn’t sure how to fix yet). And I hadn’t defined how we were supposed to feel about the resolution of the biggest subplot.

Mike also had a suggestion for how to introduce a few more clues/red herrings into the story in a brilliant way. The suggestion was very organic to the story but not something I would have thought of. So he paid for himself with that one suggestion, in my opinion.

The call lasted about 50 minutes, and in addition to his notes, Mike left me with a few suggested reading titles of books in my genre (and one completely outside my genre).

I hung up and felt incredibly inspired to get back to work on the second draft of the outline. It took me about two hours to listen back to the call while pausing to take notes, and I’ve spent the last week working on fixing the big and small issues that Mike found.

I plan on sending the second draft of the outline to Mike next week, after which we’ll schedule another Skype call. I’ll report back on that after it happens.

I was a little nervous at first, spending so much money on a writing coach. I didn’t know what to expect. But if every call is as helpful and productive as the first was, I’m gonna have one hell of a novel on my hands.

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