“Mentoring [is] an invaluable resource, given selflessly by hard-working, talented mentors who give up their time to help less experienced writers.”
Author Laura Noakes shares how her mentor’s insightful comments and invaluable support helped shape her novel
Tell us about your writing journey from start until now
I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was a kid, but I started writing seriously in my late teens. Since then I’ve written a number of books (hopefully getting a little better with each one!) and had LOTS of rejections. In the wise (and slightly mis-quoted) words of Dory, I’ve ‘just kept going’ – writing the next chapter, researching the next book, redrafting a scene!
What made you apply for the WriteMentor programme?
As soon as I saw the WriteMentor Summer Programme, I knew I had to apply. I’d followed WriteMentor on Twitter for a while, and was really impressed with the supportive and informative community that had developed. I originally applied for the 2021 WriteMentor Children’s Novel and Picture Book Award, and although I wasn’t longlisted, the feedback I got on my novel was so positive and encouraging and it gave me a belief in my writing and book – but I also knew my manuscript needed a lot of work. The Summer Programme offered the opportunity to do that with brilliantly talented mentors.
It was a win/win! Despite that, I didn’t actually think I’d get picked as a mentee. I spent the entire day of the announcement trying (and failing) to concentrate on my day job and refreshing twitter, and seeing my name as a mentee was the best news!
What was your experience like?
Amazing. Challenging (in a good way). And transformative. My mentor, Jonathan, was incredible. His comments were insightful and his support was invaluable. He read my book twice, and was always only an email away if I had a question or query. I really liked that the programme gave mentees the whole summer to work on their stories and improve their craft. It felt a little like a boot camp – hard work but really rewarding.
Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?
My book in one sentence is a middle grade Victorian-era jewel heist by disabled kids. I’m disabled, and I work in a museum, so disabled history is something I love reading about. And more disability rep in books is always a win in my eyes!
What is your best piece of writing advice that you learned on the programme?
Don’t conveniently let important plot points fall into the hands of your characters! Make them work for it.
Why do you think mentoring is important for writers?
Mentoring allows writers to improve their book, their writing as a whole, and also helps to demystify the publishing industry. It’s an invaluable resource, given selflessly by hard-working, talented mentors who give up their time to help less experienced writers.
Working with a children’s author, receive ongoing developmental editing, writing advice, publishing insights, and direct feedback on your manuscript to help you elevate your writing craft to the next level