Your Writing Mentor Donna Freitas
With over twenty years of experience in the publishing industry, you’re in safe hands with our ‘Plot Doctor’.
Donna Freitas has written more than twenty books, both fiction and nonfiction, for adults, children, and young adults. Her most recent novel, ‘The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano’, came out from Viking/Penguin (U.S.) and Harper Collins (UK) in 2021 and is being published in twenty countries and languages. Donna loves writing all kinds of books, from the literary memoir, ‘Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention’ (Hachette/Little, Brown, 2019), to the sci-fi YA trilogy she published with HarperTeen (‘Unplugged’), to her more serious, academic nonfiction, ‘Consent on Campus: A Manifesto’. Her novels, essays, and nonfiction have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and on The Today Show among many other places.
Donna also loves to help people with their book projects and has mentored many successful writers at different stages in their careers with their fiction, nonfiction, and creative nonfiction. One of her favourite things is seeing a writer she’s mentored get an agent, sell their book, and enjoy wild success. Donna’s diverse experience in writing, editing, teaching, and mentoring crosses every angle of the publishing world, from the highly commercial to the literary to the academic, from the private one-on-one experience to the more traditional MFA program.
On the personal front, she loves to cook, eat, and see friends (and ideally do all three of these things together!), and she splits her time between Brooklyn and Barcelona.
Specialises in: Contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, children’s and young adults. She also specialises in non-fiction of all kinds.
Donna provides tuition for our Mentoring Service.
Why we love Donna
Donna, our resident ‘Plot Doctor’, loves nothing more than helping a writer bring their book to life. With over twenty years of experience in the publishing industry, she’ll not only help you to hone your craft, but she’ll also be honest with you about what’s selling in the publishing market right now.
What Donna says about Mentoring
Sometimes I’m not sure which experience I love more: writing my own books, or helping other people write theirs. There is really nothing better than helping people unearth the stories they carry within themselves, and figuring out how to bring those stories to life—so that others may enjoy them too.
Writing a book can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be—it can also be the most wonderful thing we’ve ever done, especially if we are not alone in it. Writing can be thrilling, cathartic, and gratifying, and I think part of the job of the mentor is to help a writer disarm the process. To tip the scales so that it is heavier on the gratifying, and far less frustrating than it can be, at times.
I don’t believe a book has to take 10 years of drudgery. Knowing that you have companionship along the way, a sounding board, an editor, a person with loads of experience in writing and publishing, can go a long way to making yourself sit down and open that laptop, to getting on with getting it done. Having someone who is going to read for you and give you feedback, to be a cheerleader and also hold you accountable, can be transformative. It can be the difference between wanting to write a book and actually writing that book.
But then there is the book itself. I love books. I think they are, like, the most amazing things ever invented. They are just so human.
I always tell my students and clients to take all the risks and commit all the crimes in their novels, that novels are these safe spaces to experiment and do all the things we wouldn’t dare in real life (or that we shouldn’t dare in real life). Through our characters, plots, and storytelling, we can speak the unspeakable, we can vanquish the bullies of our childhood, we can live and relive the moments we lost, we can love the person who never once looked our way, we can talk to the dead. We can laugh, we can rage, we can do so much.
Novels and books are these roomy, flexible structures, that can accommodate terrible mistakes, shocking fantasies, love, divorce, disaster, regret, hope, grief. Creative nonfiction and memoir, too, is this miraculous form expressly designed for us to parse out our own humanity, our histories, our families. Sometimes I can’t believe these two forms exist for us to pour out all of our humanity into them. That there are these structures designed to contain us, in all our complexity.
So I believe in taking full advantage of these forms available to us. As a mentor, it’s my job to help a writer (and to teach a writer) how to best do this.
I also believe in momentum: that all books can have momentum, that this is the key to writing a good book (and often the key to getting a publisher for that book)—finding the source of a story’s momentum, whether that story is fiction or nonfiction. All of us are reluctant readers in a way, we want to be grabbed and taken along in a story. There are so many ways to do this through structure, plot, voice, character, and we will work together to find the seeds of urgency within the story that you are telling. I am known as the plot doctor among my writer friends, and this big picture work is one of my specialties.
I believe in writing the books of our hearts, but I also believe in considering the market as we do this. I believe in being honest about what the market wants (maybe not another vampire novel?) and in discussing this openly with clients. I bring over twenty years of publishing experience to the table, and I’ve published in just about every kind of genre, save poetry, and I know that the publishing piece is important—that people want to write but they also want to get published, and discussing this is part of the process.
I think part of the job of being a writer is passing on that knowledge and experience to others. As a mentor, I do my best to pass everything I know on to my clients, so they feel empowered throughout the writing and publishing process. I meant what I said in my bio about taking joy in seeing the writers I’ve worked with find success—so much of writing can be about community if we let it. We don’t have to toil alone!
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