On Wednesday I met with Charlotte Cook of Adapting Sideways, had my intro interview, and was accepted into the 7-week class run by her and he partner, Jon James Miller.


Frankly, I approached this meeting with trepidation.  I’ve been studying writing for a long time, and have consistently thought that I knew what I was doing, and that any problems apparent in my work were just a matter of practice and observation.  OK, fine, practice and observation are valuable, and one can learn a lot by just keeping an open mind and reading critically.

In this meeting I presented three pages of the much-vaunted fourth re-write of FIVE, my para-psychological novel.  Previous to the meeting I’d spent hours going over the document, editing, polishing, looking for every bit of punctuation or formatting misadventure I could find, and believed I had a water-tight set of pages.

Before she read the first word, Charlotte announced that the writing was “light”.

I almost choked.  Then she explained.

I’ve somehow gotten the idea that pace is improved by short sentences and paragraphs.

What she explained was that not only do you need a strong first sentence (these are the first three pages of the re-write), you need to hook the reader by giving enough solid information to involve the reader in the action.

Wait, I thought.  I already know that.  I do all that.  Right?

Nope.  This was a case of knowing and doing being in different camps.

This isn’t to say she didn’t find some good writing in the ms.  She did, and I was delighted that some of the sentences, ideas, and turns of phrase lit her up.

I am delighted to be in her course.  I can feel changes in my thinking already, and the changes feel right.  In fact, I find that after a single hour with her, I’m reading and hearing in a different way already.

Concerns, get ye gone!  This is gonna be good!