A few bits of free advice I’ve given to my students

  1. I think if you forget all about this with your conscious mind, one day your unconscious will tell you why you keep coming back to this image.
  2. I know it can feel bad when you think you’ve followed an assignment closely and are given the news that maybe you haven’t.  But it only feels bad for a little while. And keep in mind the bigger and more important lesson: real success in the class and in writing in general has very little to do with a given week’s work (which, by the way, was full of magnificent language and images).  It’s all about the willingness to keep trying things and learning from them.  From where I sit, you’re a complete success.
  3. I think that as you move ahead with the narrative, you’ll realize your narrator can streamline the scenes more – cut out some of the connective tissue and moment-by-moment movements. To use a movie analogy, you can do more cutting, jumping to the next time and place where something emotional is at stake. Let your narrator just keep playing around, trying things out.
  4. This is one of those things we all need to keep reminding ourselves: there’s always a narrator who has more perspective than the characters, and the narrator is always connected to the mood the characters are feeling.  When the plot has to get moved forward, it should be done with within the context of the mood.
  5. When the narrator is really connected to the underlying mood, every description of the characters and their actions does double duty: showing us what’s happening and conveying the mood.