I've said this before

It's a line from Oscar Hammerstein's The King and I: "if you become a teacher/By your pupils you'll be taught." Don't forget that. 

I'll be meeting, that is, taking (by phone) with my mentee today and I've had a few days to try to absorb what she has written lately and think  how best to respond.  The process makes me go through my own approach again. In trying to resolve her problems, or at least to suggest possible approaches to take, I will apply what I am re-learning to my own dilemmas.  Every situation presents its own difficulty and its own various solutions.  So I go on learning.  But what am I going to tell my mentee? 

Exposition is difficult, even in a novel.  It sticks out like a neon sign in a play, when two people are telling each other what at least one of them already knows, in order to bring the audience up to speed.   A novelist thinks he/she can get away with this, just filling in the blanks in necessary information.  Not possible.  Information is boring in large doses.  You have to parcel it out, disguised as conflict, or as an insight into the character doling out all those details.  Every scene, no matter how heavily loaded with backfill, must have a beginning, middle and end.  We must have learned more than the dimensions or decor of a room or the contents of an office, including the location of the safe or computer - popular targets. We have to know what the characters think of what they have learned and maybe even what they plan to do about it.  

Okay, Okay, I'm not telling you or me anything we don't know, but it bears repeating.  While you're at it, tell me something I don't know. 

Now I'm ready to talk to my mentee.