If you’ve been reading the articles and blog posts on this site, you probably have a good idea if I’d be a good writing coach or teacher for you. And there’s no offense taken if you decide I’m not! You can probably tell that “conciseness” is not one of my key strengths, for example, and that I’m more useful as a teacher/coach than as a copy editor.
But if you’re looking for someone like me, you’ve come to the right place. :)
As a writing teacher and coach, I offer:
Let’s go through those and explore what I mean.
Affirmation: I’ve taught new writers for years, and I’ve learned that being affirmative rather than critical can make all the difference. I don’t bother with empty praise, but I do believe in the power of praise to help writers feel empowered to learn and experiment. I’ve even written articles about the power of affirmation in teaching and tutoring writing. (Affirmative Advice that I gave at the 4Cs academic conference.) My job is to help you fulfill the vision you have for your story, and to do that, I’ll be positive and affirmative. I don’t believe in shaming writers at any level, especially those like you who want to learn. So you don’t need to worry that I will criticize you or diminish you. I don’t believe in that. I know from long experience that affirmation can make writers feel more confident about their own ability to learn and change.
So don’t expect tough love from me. Don’t get me wrong. I can be tough (just try to get that chapter full of one-sentence paragraphs past me! And as for the Oxford comma, I’ll defend to the death the need for it :). But I’ll go out of my way to make you feel like you can do this– and I can help you do this.
Imagination: Ask anyone who has worked with me– I have a quick and agile imagination which helps writers discover new story facets, levels, and twists. If you tell me that you want your protagonist to be someone who speaks her mind, I’ll come up with a few examples of scenes within your story that show her speaking her mind. The examples might not be exactly what you want, but then I’ll help you figure out what similar type of event would work. I like to help you discover more depth to your character and most of all, what events or scenes or actions might show that inner depth.
With all that imagination (yours and mine :) sparking, we might end up with just a fireworks display that fades away … except that I can help you capture all that with organization.
Organization: I always assumed I was creative. Aren’t writers supposed to be creative? It wasn’t until I started working with other writers that I learned they were usually more creative than I… but I was better at organization. No, I don’t mean that I’m good at organizing my files or keeping my inbox sorted (uh, no). I’m just good at organizing plots, and especially helping to sequence events in the plot for the most drama. You know– “Should the betrayal of her secret happen before or after the car accident?” I can help you find the most effective sequence of events to accomplish the reader reaction you’re aiming for. (This is especially helpful if you have a lot of great events and don’t know where exactly they go in the plot.)
I help you with a simple but effective tactic: Breaking the plot into three parts. I know that sounds simplistic, but the magical rule of three works, and can help you structure most of the major elements of the story, including:
- Character Journey
- Character Strength and Flaw
- Theme and Motif
I can help you make your story coherent and clear, or as complex and suspenseful as you want. From my experience, almost all effective stories have a strong and organized plot structure– and that you’ll get the effect you want by structuring the story to achieve that. I can help you do that.
Intensification: Intense and powerful scenes, events, and characterization are what really grab readers these days. Even quiet and contemplative stories benefit from intensity (sometime when you have an hour or so, read this powerful yet quiet Alice Munro story about a man dealing with his beloved wife’s dementia). Often writers find themselves holding back from real intensity, out of discretion or for suspense or with a worry of seeming “over the top” or sentimental. I can help you find the intensity in your plot and your prose without resorting to purple language or implausibility.
This will probably involve challenging you to go deeper into your own vision of the story, and into your characters. I can also help you find the overall theme or message that you want the story to convey, and show you how to deepen the theme with motifs or patterns in imagery and language. It will still be your story, but it will be deeper and richer, with greater meaning and subtext.
What others say about Alicia’s story help:
Wonderful. Thank you again for presenting such an amazing workshop. Patricia W. Fischer RN
I’ve taken Alicia’s “Vivid Voice” and “Being and Feeling” courses. Both were comprehensive and packed with detailed information and explanatory examples about the craft of writing. Even if I use only a few of the multiple tips and techniques, I know my story will improve tenfold. Linda Carroll-Bradd
I just completed reading your book, The Power Of Point of View. Thank you for writing this book, and for so eloquently describing the process. Your explanations and examples are both thorough and easy to follow. I’ve read many books on writing and I must confess, yours was the most informative and helpful resource of all. I’m writing a sci-fi novel where the story is set on two different worlds and I had difficulty with POV, until I read your book. You’ve been a tremendous help to me and I just wanted to say “thank you.”
This is the best course I’ve ever taken, on-line or in a classroom! I’ve been telling others about it and they want to take it. Patricia Bradley
You’ve given us so much great information! I’ll be rereading and referring to these class files forever. Just from jotting down ideas that popped into my head as I read your lessons, I already have a stack of notes to use to improve my current WIP. Willa Blair
It is amazing what I have learned. I do not write romances, but emotion works in thrillers and mysteries just the same. I belong to a critique group, and they are good, but your class was very enlightening. I am now going back and revising the four novels I have written. David C. Yates