Writer Q&As: Matching a Writer with a VMI Mentor

How do you match a writer/manuscript with a VMI mentor? [Donna Lee Mae]

First, it’s important to say that I’m the matchmaker! However, mentors review the writer’s application I’ve matched them with before I inform the writer whom they will be working with. Arriving at this match depends on several factors:

  1. The mentors
  2. The number of writers
  3. Genre
  4. Style and sensibilities

The first factor I consider is the mentors that are available that year (due to their other work commitments, this varies from year to year).

The second factor is the number of students/writers the mentor wants to work with (this varies from one to four).

The third factor is genre fit. This factor is a more nuanced one as sometimes I see a nonfiction manuscript that is close to being finished but isn’t because the dialogue, scenes and settings are not developed well. In this case, I may match that nonfiction writer with a fiction mentor.

Or, if two mentors are a good fit but one has been drawn to working in either more traditional ways, or experimental ways in terms of form—I will choose the mentor whose strengths mirror how that student/writer is working formally.

The fourth factor is even more nuanced: which writer (and their particular manuscript) will click with which mentor’s experience, style, and sensibilities? Specifically, in terms of our teaching and editing approaches: no two mentors are the same so I always take this into account too.

Answered by Betsy Warland.

Posted by: Lindsay Glauser