Your Writing Mentor Alexandra Tanner
Get expert advice from Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Alexandra Tanner
Alexandra Tanner is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of the MFA program in fiction at The New School, she has received grants and fellowships for her writing from MacDowell and The Center for Fiction. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in ‘Jewish Currents’, ‘Indiana Review’, and ‘Tin House’ online. She is the fiction editor at ‘Triangle House Review’.
Specialises in: Literary fiction, women’s fiction, speculative fiction, narrative/creative nonfiction
Alexandra provides tuition for our Mentoring Service.
Why we love Alexandra
Alexandra is completely aware of the challenges facing writers and is dedicated to helping find a way through any narrative or stylistic problems. By approaching a book with a critical eye as if it were a puzzle, she will help you to break down the elements of your story into its most basic parts to tease out your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Her approach to mentoring is rooted in finding what narrative question is at the heart of your project and reigniting your excitement to write.
What Alexandra says about Mentoring
Writing a novel (or any longform project) can be a long, challenging process: sometimes, it can start to feel like you’re at the bottom of a deep pool and can’t quite get to the surface. When writing becomes exhausting or circular, or when it starts to make us feel like the right answer is just out of reach, it’s often because we’re writing against our own intellectual interests or artistic strengths. When we slow down, look at what we’ve got, and take stock of all the tools we have available to us as storytellers, though, we can find our way through almost any narrative or stylistic problem.
I love breaking down a story or novel into its most basic parts and taking a look at how all the elements of storytelling—character, setting, themes, dialogue, tone, style, and unconscious symbols or motifs—are working on an individual level. By thinking critically about how all these different pieces of the puzzle fit together, we can work together toward identifying what parts of a story are most exciting to you. My approach to mentoring is rooted in finding out what narrative question is at the heart of your project; what your interests not just as a writer but as a person are; and what element of good fiction is most exciting for you to write. Do you have a great ear for dialogue and how people speak? Can you build intricate, exciting futuristic or fantasy worlds in your head with ease? Is your work tied to a specific, evocative time period or location? Figuring out how to make your project come together is often the process of figuring out where your strengths and interests lie, and then focusing carefully on highlighting those strengths and interests to ensure that every part of the project feels intuitive and exciting to write.
It’s easy to lose sight of your narrative and artistic goals halfway through a project as the world you’re building grows more and more complex—sometimes it’s hard to even pin those things down in the first place. As I look at your work, I’ll be searching for what’s already great about it—and then, together, we’ll figure out how to play to your strengths as a writer so that no part of the project ever feels out of reach or beyond your control (or, worst of all, tedious or frustrating to write.) Whether your project is in an outline or draft stage and needs rigorous developmental editing or whether you’re at a more advanced point in the process and are looking to fine-tune the individual elements of your book before querying agents or submitting to prizes, it’s always refreshing and edifying to get back to basics for a bit. I’ll help you to see what’s on the page more clearly, meet the project on its own terms, and use all the tools at your disposal to make your novel stand out.
Start your mentoring today
Get expert one-to-one advice from Alexandra Tanner as you write and edit your manuscript.