FLM BLOG Thursday 23 October

I'm professionally assessing an old friend's memoirs at the moment and I'm struck by her astute choice of scenes from her childhood and youth, and the deft way she closes an episode and switches to another. Another old friend who's a successful literary novelist once said, only half in jest, 'How do I get a character out of a room? Do we have to see him turn the doorknob?' Answer to that is: selection. Leave the doorknob out if you don't want it! Miss out the next week or month in the character's life if there's something of much greater importance that you want the reader to see. For some great advice on scene switching I recommend a recent post by Kristin Nelson here.

In a fresh phase of my long career as both publisher and published novelist, I turned to writing full-time. And I found that I missed assessing brand-new fiction. So I’ve set up Free Literary Mentor as a completely free manuscript appraisal service to début novelists and their readers. During my professional life in books I’ve assessed, edited, published and reviewed prize-winning fiction and non-fiction, I’ve tutored in literature and novel writing, and was fiction publisher for an international company for twelve years—yet I’ve never lost the excitement of seeing new work. If you’re a novelist seeking constructive critiques, look below and see how Free Literary Mentor might work for you. Readers, check out the latest extract from a new novel—you may be peeking at a forthcoming bestseller. To share an opinion, click on the extract below, or go to the Free Literary Mentor archive, select another and add your comment. 

Latest Extract
The Wolf on the Road Home ~ Sophie Szecsodi ~ Australia

"I think we're in the botanical gardens. And that ..." Veelo points to a large road crossing the river. "I think that's the Tasman Highway. And that's the Croax River. Yes, that's right. They renamed it ages ago. It was the Derwood or Derbunt or something."


"Yeah, that's it. How'd you know?"

"Just stuff I heard around the orphanage."

"Oh." Veelo bows her head. "Anyway, we have to follow the highway to get to Freycinet, I think. We'll have to get a tourist bus."

"Wait a second ... I'm no geography expert, but aren't we going to Launceston?"

Veelo's expression tenses a little, but then relaxes again. "I think we need to go to Freycinet. Because Jay is there. He can help us."

"Who is Jay?"

"Another Elf ..."

Read more

The Mentor’s Critique
The Wolf on the Road Home ~ Sophie Szecsodi

Sophie, since The Wolf on the Road Home is the first volume in an epic series, and it tells of a quest, you’ve done the right thing in your first thirty pages by getting Wolf away on her journey fairly soon. You begin the novel as this young girl wanders the streets of a future Hobart, clad in her orphanage clothes and a wolf hat. She scares the driver of a car, who slows down to look at her but takes off when she snarls at him. She then creeps back to her dormitory and wakes up next morning to the unbearable life of the orphanage. You give the reader ample reason for Wolf to escape her present existence and you make us believe in her flight with Veelo, even though this girl is a stranger to her.

Read more

Submit your work to the Mentor

To take up my Free Literary Mentor offer:
Check out the submission guidelines
Send me the first 30 pages of your unpublished, completed novel
Include the title, your author name and a brief synopsis
Accept the terms and conditions

To leave a comment:
Click on the extract above or
Go to the Free Literary Mentor archive &
select another extract that interests you
Then add your message below it

This week's tip:
No matter what your age or purpose, if you're
a potential novelist, don't hesitate to submit
a novel to Free Literary Mentor. It's all free
and equal here!