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Welcome to First Monday Mentoring.

On the first Monday of every month (or the first Sunday if you’re in the northern hemisphere), I invite you to post your writing-related questions and I’ll  answer them here.

Lots of talented writers read and comment on this blog and you’re also invited to contribute a question or your thoughts on an answer, or a writing experience that might help others.

There’s another reason I decided to hold First Monday Mentoring.

The 2012 Valerie Parv Award named in my honour by Romance Writers of Australia now opens April 23 and closes May 4 or earlier once the 80 available places are filled.

Note, the award is now limited to the first 80 entries received.

I mentor the winner of the VPA for the year they hold the award. With only one award and entries now being limited, I created a program called MentorXpress, where you can have a short experience of working with me as your mentor.  Details and cost are on my website

Between the limited number of entries RWA accepts and the fact that there can only be one winner a year, means First Monday Mentoring gives you somewhere to post writing concerns and questions, or share experiences.


You can post your questions ahead of time if you like and answers will go up during Monday February 6.

I’ll monitor the blog and post answers throughout the day.

Happy First Monday, all!


on Twitter @valerieparv

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Comments on: "NEW FOR 2012 – “First Monday Mentoring” – Your writing questions and problems answered here" (7)

  1. A question…Hmmmm…I’ve heard from impeccable sources that plot and emotion are key elements. Do you have any advice for pantsers who write and hope a plot happens to their stories somewhere along the line? Thanks.

    • Laura, I know you better than to suggest any sort of system such as file cards or…whispers…whiteboards, although they do work for writers who like to plot ahead. One way you might like to experiment with is thinking of a possible scene, scribble down a couple of sentences showing how the scene might unfold. For example, you might write: “the heroine comes home to find the hero waiting on her doorstep.” Then you can ask yourself what emotional elements this might trigger in the heroine. It helps to use the word “feel” as in, “she feels he’s intruding on her space” or “she feels angry at being turned on by seeing him again when she doesn’t want to be because…(of something that happened between them at an earlier time). Thinking this way leaves lots of room to “pants” the scene – let it unfold in its own way – while reminding you to cover both bases as you write.

  2. Copy/pasting…Thank you, V. *Smooches.* (And a hug, too.)

  3. Valerie, what’s your take on using “action beats” as opposed to regular dialogue tags?

    • Hi Josh. Action beats, where we see someone doing something instead of reading “he said, she replied” dialogue tags can avoid static “talking heads” scenes. I like ABs when they give us emotional layers. For example: “Jenny gave the bread dough an extra violent thump. ‘Go if you want to.'” tells us her words aren’t the whole picture. ABs are best used like seasoning to avoid bogging us down in trivial actions. IMO they work best when adding something to the scene, showing how a character really feels in contrast to their words, and keeping the reader involved. Mixing ABs and dialogue tags, and no tags at all when it’s clear who’s talking gives a good mix of colour, emotion and pace. Great question, thanks.

      • And thank you for the thoughts. Clears it up somewhat for me and I like the concept of mixing the beats, dialogue tags, and using no tags at all when possible.

      • Mixing them up depending on the needs of the scene usually works for me, Josh. And very best luck with the release of Death on the Devil’s Highway. Can’t be very long now.

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