A review of Story Coaching by a student and her mother
This week we announced a new 3-month track of Story Coaching! Holly Fraser, a One Year Adventure Novel (“OYAN”) student in New Zealand, and her mother, Angie, kindly agreed to share their thoughts on the pilot program we ran this summer, so you could get a feel for what Story Coaching is like.
Hurry over to the Story Coaching page and apply—there are only 10 spots this fall!
Send my precious novel in to be read and critiqued by a complete stranger? I stared at my heartless mother, aghast. Was she even serious? Deadly serious, as I found out.
When I received my congratulatory email telling me I had been accepted into the Story Coaching program, you can imagine how thrilled I was. Quite frankly, as I sent my first draft in to be read, I was terrified.
And so started my critiquing journey. The week I received a critique back for Chapter One, I braced myself for the worst. But as I read Rachel Garner’s encouraging comments, I began to realize that my novel might not be blown completely to pieces… that the critiques I received from Rachel were actually incredibly helpful and positive. As I worked on each chapter, I began to really enjoy strengthening and building my novel up to a higher standard.
Rachel has been so lovely. With each chapter she’s sent back to me, she’s included at least one encouraging comment amidst all the constructive ones, and these combined have really motivated me to keep working on my novel, and to make it even better.
I got to meet Rachel at the 2015 Summer Workshop, and I was so happy to find out that she was my critique group leader there! To actually be able to read her own work was so cool… I’m now officially a fan of Forest of Lies. Speaking face to face in the critique groups, hearing everyone’s input into each other’s novels was so awesome. And we had heaps of fun while doing so! Meeting with the other Story Coaching students and Rachel was a lot of fun… talking over the critiques I’ve received so far, and getting other Story Coaching students’ thoughts was so helpful. I think all of us have really benefited from it.
I also used to be rather useless at critiquing other people’s work… I was scared that I would say the wrong thing and mortally offend the writer, so stayed well away from other students’ writing. But after reading Rachel’s critiques, I plucked up enough courage to do some critiquing of my own, modeling them on Rachel’s. And while I found that there’s definitely a fine line between saying the right or the wrong thing, I got better and better. I love critiquing now. Not only is it helpful to the writer, but it’s really helpful to me. I get to see how other OYANers write, and I can always learn a lot from their work.
Story Coaching has been so amazing. It’s changed my perspective about both writing and critiquing, but most of all, it’s changed my novel. It’s the best feeling, seeing your writing improve so rapidly.
So if you ever get an opportunity like this, don’t be like me. Take the chance yourself… throw your writing out there. Force yourself to take risks; don’t just leave it to your heartless mother.
Just a note from the Heartless Mother….I really was thrilled when One Year Adventure Novel (“OYAN”) accepted Holly as a candidate for Story Coaching. Some things are better received when they don’t come from a mere mother, heartless or otherwise. (I can feel all the homeschooling mums nodding.)
I am so proud of both of my daughters for completing their OYAN novels. But I was not prepared for just how much Holly’s writing improved after both the Story Coaching and the critiquing she received from the Summer Workshop critique groups. The difference between her work before and the work after this input was staggering to me. It was still all Holly’s work, but she had been able to run with some great suggestions, and it changed the quality of her writing markedly.
The Story Coaching program also required Holly to complete one critique per week for a fellow OYANer (on the Student Forum) for the duration of twelve weeks. This gave her opportunity to think analytically about other writers’ work in a way that she hadn’t before – and of course, in doing so, it dramatically improved her ability to analyze her own writing.
As a writer myself, I am now envious of Holly’s experience of both being critiqued and critiquing, and have set about trying to find my own critiquers! Story Coaching and good critiquing are definitely the way for serious writers to take their writing to the next level.
Thanks Rachel and thanks OYAN for this fantastic opportunity!