Recently, a student asked me for "sharp rules" and was gravely disappointed when I told her I didn't know any. Every piece of writing– picture book, chapter book, or YA novel - is a world unto itself, idiosyncratic, difficult, maybe even impossible, to fathom fully. My job, as I see it, is to act as a reliable witness for the less experienced writer as she brings that world and its residents, whoever they might be, to the page.
But to make something from nothing is a mysterious , often frustrating, endeavor. In the inventive stages especially, both teacher and student must be vigilant, open to change, and hopefully good-humored. (If you are a sourpuss, I probably am not the right guy for you.) Later, when revising (and revising, and revising) resilience is the quality I look for in both the writer and her work. Throughout our time together, I try not to pretend that I have answers (I don't), but work to ask those questions intended to help the student find her own.