Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What is a Book Coach?

A book coach is like a personal trainer for writers. A book coach helps you refine specific skills - such as writing believable characters or believable dialogue, or such as making your character arc more impactful. A book coach brings you resources and exercises, pushes you to new levels in the craft, and helps you develop routines that work for you -- routines for keeping momentum in your writing, or for overcoming writer's block.

A coach gets a thrill from working with you to push yourself, to make your characters thrive with vitality and urgency on the page. A coach is in love with good fiction or good storytelling (whether in a novel or a memoir or a travel piece), and can bring you exercises and specific critique that will help you write characters your readers will care deeply about.

A coach may offer critique of specific scenes, but is focused not on editing your one chapter but on helping you sharpen your story and your characters as a whole.

A good book coach is usually another writer with editing experience. A coach is not a literary agent and will not represent you to publishers or ask for a sales commission -- though a coach may offer assistance with writing query letters, book proposals, and with helping you research the right agents or editors for your work. A book coach's primary aim is to facilitate your growth as a writer.

What to Look for in a Book Coach

* A passion for good storytelling - a love for the work of writing itself
* A practical and craft-focused approach
* Editing experience
* The ability to quickly break down complex ideas into specific examples
* Ability to think fast on their feet
* Ability to try multiple tacks, adapt to your specific needs and learning style
* Facility with getting you resources and exercises that will help you continue to develop your skills beyond your sessions with the coach

Ideally, a book coach should be able to help you on a number of fronts - character, plot, setting, outlining - as well as aiding you with writer's block, finding a writing routine that works for you (if you don't have one), and advising you on resources that will help you press further - or even connecting you with a local critique group that's right for you. It is essential that your coach not offer you a canned approach, but instead focus on your needs and goals.