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Helen Harvey | #WriteMentor 2020

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

I’m back for a second year of mentoring. This year I’ll be mentoring a middle grade novel or chapter book. I’m offering to mentor a full manuscript, synopsis and cover letter.

I like most genres, especially contemporary, fantasy, mystery, historical and dystopia. I particularly love books that blend genres or play with tropes. I’m not the right person for gothic or horror.

Things I particularly like in books: witches, emotions, gentle humour, video games, clever twists, retold fairy tales, stories about finding out who you are or fighting injustice. If your story features any (or all!) of these things, please consider submitting to me.

My absolute favourite author is Diana Wynne Jones. Recent reads I’ve really enjoyed include A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby, Snow Foal by Susanna Bailey and Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent.

My Mentoring Style

I like face-to-face feedback. For me, both as a mentor giving feedback and as an author receiving it, having a conversation is much better than receiving an email with a list of things to change. So expect phone/video calls!

I know that when giving feedback the most important thing is to recognise where the heart of the story lies for you as the writer, and to help you write the best version of that story. I think identifying a story's strengths is just as useful as discussing areas for development.

The mentoring I provide really depends on where your manuscript is at, but we’ll start with the big, plot/structure/character-arc stuff, work our way towards line edits and see how far we get.

My Experience

I’m represented by Lauren Gardner and my MG novel about video games and bullying won the United Agents/Bath Spa prize for most promising writing for young people. I worked for two years writing chapter books for educational publisher Twinkl.

I have taught creative writing for over ten years and recently completed the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People, which placed a lot of emphasis on both giving and receiving feedback through workshops. This was a fabulous experience and really gave me a better understanding of how to feed back effectively. I also participate in a monthly SCBWI critique group.

What I expect from you

I want you to be passionate about working to make your story the best it can be.

I expect you to be open-minded and willing to edit based on my feedback. However, that doesn't mean I'm expecting you to do everything I suggest. You are the author, and this is your story - I'm just trying to help you find the best version of it.

I'm expecting you to find time to commit to working on your story, but I'm also expecting you to communicate with me (and I will do the same with you) if you need more time. We are all humans with complex lives!

I really looking forward to reading your stories!


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