What is a book coach?

A book coach guides writers of fiction and nonfiction through the creative process and provides feedback on their writing from start to finish. My approach helps writers to:

  • set the goals of their writing project
  • define the book’s genre
  • describe the story’s premise
  •  develop the story’s structure (chapters, transitions, flow)
  •  map out the plot (introduction, inciting incident, rising action, arc, resolution)
  •  plan the protagonist’s journey ( goals, obstacles, transformation)
  •  plot character transformation in accordance with the story’s arc
  • research factual/historical aspects of the story
  • explore main themes and concepts
  • identify the book’s target audiences
  • spin storylines into promotional messages

A unique creative approach

It has been argued that “the only constant is change.” Though it implies survival and growth, change can also be the root of conflict, chaos, and destruction. These dynamics affect the characters in storytelling as much as they do individuals in real life. In teaching and critiquing writing, especially regarding plot and character development, I know of no better framework for examining the dynamics of change than Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)—a behavior-change model that provides unique insight into the interaction between neurology, language, and behavior.

NLP starts by differentiating between the various ‘neurological’ levels on which a person’s issues may be playing out: environment (where?), behavior (what?), capabilities (how?), values and beliefs (why?), identity (who?), spiritual (what for?). NLP practitioners are trained to calibrate verbal and body language (head movements, facial expressions, hand gesture, and posture), eye-accessing cues, breathing rate, and skin tone to gain insight into the subject’s mental strategies underpinning his or her thought, communication, and behavior processes.

Just as acute sensory awareness helps me understand how clients relate to their challenges, accomplishments, and failures, learning these skills can help you convey the subtle cues associated with the different thoughts, emotions, internal conflicts, and behavior patterns of your characters. The ability to render vivid characters and create intricate plots will lead to works of great depth.

My approach differs from writing coaches who use personality-type theories to create fictional characters with ‘typical’ predispositions. I believe in an organic growth of character and plot instead of stereotyping monologue, dialogue, and behavior patterns for the sake of validating a type. Using nuanced sensory evidence, I help writers render unique characters and eccentric quirks through mind-body observation of their own mental strategies, and then future-pace a character’s possible responses to certain plot developments. This is where it gets really exciting—it’s like role-play, only different—you see, hear, feel, and imagine what is possible for your characters and take it from there, as opposed to being limited by the do’s and don’ts of staid theories.