Mentor Ren Hutchings

www.renhutchings.com
@voidcricket

AGENT
Bridget Smith, JABberwocky Literary Agency

WRITES
Adult Sci-Fi

BOOKS
UNDER FORTUNATE STARS (2022) Solaris

BIO
Ren is a sci-fi writer, editorial assistant, writing mentor and freelance editor. She has spent most of the past few years working in game dev while plotting twisty space novels. She graduated with a BA in History before completing a year of grad school in archaeology, indulging her lifelong passion for nerding out about the past just as much as the future. She loves weird mysteries, pop science, elaborate book playlists, and pondering about alternate universes.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I’ve been reading speculative fiction for as long as I can remember, and when I started writing novels, I found my strongest creative voice in SFF. Eventually, I wrote the book of my heart: a twisty space opera with time travel, lots of feelings, and a big cast of characters I adored. When I finished drafting my book, I revised for almost a year before I queried. I entered some Twitter pitch contests where I got a couple of requests, but my offers of representation ultimately both came from cold queries. I am represented by Bridget Smith of JABberwocky Literary, and I was on submission for one year with my time travel space opera. It sold to Solaris and became my debut novel, UNDER FORTUNATE STARS (coming in May 2022!)

EXPERIENCE
I have been an adult SFF mentor for Author Mentor Match in 2020 and 2021, and for Pitch Wars in 2019 and 2020. I’ve been a first reader and freelance editor for an online literary journal, I’ve worked as a literary agency intern, and I’m currently an editorial assistant at an indie press. I’ve also been a critique partner for writers at every stage of the publishing journey — some with agents, some with published books, and some finishing up their projects to query. I typically devote several hours a week to beta reads, and in 2021 I read and critiqued more than 4 million words of amazing unpublished manuscripts! My notes and feedback have helped many writers polish their projects.

OVERVIEW
I’m incredibly grateful to the mentors in my own life who have answered my questions and given me advice and encouragement about my writing. I want to give some of this energy back to other writers. I love seeing those magical moments when things click into place, I love being able to give that piece of advice that visibly pushes someone’s work further, and I love chatting through a tricky plot point with someone until they make a breakthrough. I want to be a source of strong support for my mentee — not only to help them improve their current manuscript, but to share all the things I’ve learned about this weird, wonderful journey.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned so much from fellow writers who have been open about their experiences and generous with their time. With their advice, I’ve improved my craft, grown my support network, and successfully navigated the start of my publishing journey.

I’ve seen the AMM community create essential connections between writers, and foster the kind of friendships and creative partnerships that can last through a writer’s entire career. My past and present mentees and the amazing work they do are truly a bright light in my life. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of the AMM mentorship program for a third year!

As a mentor, I’m detail-oriented and editorial, but I’m also a big-picture puzzle solver who can break open deeper plot changes. I have a lot of experience editing multi-POV stories and non-linear narratives, and I’m not afraid of an unconventional story format. I’m a great fit if you have a complicated book that needs a little untangling!

I’m open to adult sci-fi, fantasy, and science fantasy manuscripts in a wide variety of subgenres. Above all, I’m looking for a story with strong emotional arcs and character dynamics that readers can really get invested in.

I’d love to receive manuscripts from writers with diverse backgrounds, and to amplify marginalized voices that have been underrepresented in fiction. As a queer reader, I’m particularly drawn to stories with nuanced, multi-dimensional portrayals of LGBTQIA+ characters.

MENTORING GENRES
Adult

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Science Fantasy

My inbox awaits character-driven SFF of all flavours! Send me your space operas, near-future sci-fi, post-apocalyptic quests, alternate histories & parallel universes. I’d also love to see science-fantasy books (tech x magic please!), fantasy with historical or mythological influences, and time travel stories of absolutely any kind.

Check out my MSWL for more of my favorite elements & tropes!

 

I WILL PROVIDE:

  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

WORKING STYLE
I’ll write you an edit letter outlining what I loved about your manuscript, what I think needs work, and the high-level changes that I’m suggesting. I’ll almost certainly ask you to dig further into character motivations and emotional arcs, to ensure your characters are as compelling as they can be on the page. I’m a continuity wizard, and I’ll help you stitch up plot holes. I have a knack for finding the small plot changes that make a huge difference to a manuscript, especially if you have a twisty narrative.

The feedback you get from me will always be honest. I’ll give you my guidance, my suggestions and my opinion, but you should feel confident that your story belongs to you, and the agency over any changes you make is always going to be yours.

We’ll arrange an introductory chat, I’ll send you the edit letter, and we’ll discuss the changes. I’ll be in touch with you regularly, and I’m open to communicating in whatever formats work best for you (email, video or audio chats, text or DM). If you’d like to have a collaborative idea jam before you start revising, we can do that as well.

Next, we’ll plan out your revision. We can set some deadlines (if those will help you) or lay out some looser goals for the weeks and months ahead. If you prefer to send me a few chapters at a time as you revise, we can do that! If you’d rather do a full edit pass before you send me a new version of the manuscript, that works too. We can do more than one edit pass if we feel that the book needs it. I’ll be as involved as you need me to be during your revision process.

Once we have a revised version of the book, we’ll move on to line edits. I’ll make another comprehensive pass on the manuscript at the line level, looking for the tiny changes that will really make your story shine. We’ll work together to polish your query letter and synopsis, and get your submission package ready to send out. (I can also help to curate your agent list, if you’d like me to.)

On a personal note, good communication and openness is absolutely key to me. Above all, I would like our mentor/mentee relationship to feel positive and supportive, so you can feel comfortable coming to me with any concerns. I’d love to share everything I’ve learned about the publishing process with you, and help you to grow as a writer beyond just improving this one manuscript.

IDEAL MENTEE
My ideal mentee is someone who has a strong belief in their work and a clear vision of what they want their book to be, but needs a little extra push to get the manuscript to the query-ready level.

You’ll be open and receptive to feedback, and you love to solve problems by bouncing ideas back and forth as we find the best way forward. You’re committed to working intensively on your project and sticking with it until it’s finished, even through the frustrating stages. You communicate frequently, and enjoy receiving memes about your book from your mentor (because that will definitely happen!)

You’re looking for a mentor you can talk to, someone you can consider a friend, and someone who will get really, really excited about your characters.

SEND ME:

I love all flavours of sci-fi, from epic space opera, interstellar conflict and galactic intrigue to small, intimate narratives set in a single location. I’d also love to see Earth-focused near-future stories, incisive climate fiction, and grounded, literary-leaning SF. I like alternate universes and parallel worlds, and science-fantasy crossovers that explore the coexistence of technology and magic. Give me weird magic systems, strange artifacts, and fantasy with historical and mythological influences. If you have a story with any kind of time travel or time shenanigans in it, send it my way!

I’m open to pretty much any fiction with a clear speculative twist. Send me anything paranormal or supernatural, ghost stories, futuristic stories with light horror elements, or high-stakes post-apocalyptic adventures. I’d love to see a hopeful story that shows not only how the world collapsed, but how it begins to claw its way back. Above all, I look for stories with great characters to get invested in.

I’d love to see:

  • Character-focused space opera
  • Lush worldbuilding & complex intrigue
  • Quirky magic systems & mysterious artifacts
  • Quests with a squabbling, sarcastic party of misfits
  • Intense, high-stakes space adventures
  • Emotional time travel stories & alternate histories
  • Collisions of advanced tech & theology
  • Mythological retellings with a twist
  • Hopeful stories of post-apocalyptic recovery
  • Secret societies, thief guilds & fantastical heists
  • Fantasy in a historically inspired setting
  • Anything that feels like a Guillermo Del Toro movie
  • Characters with weird skills or superpowers
  • Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances
  • Underdogs who won’t give up
  • Grumpy characters who are actually soft
  • Cinnamon roll characters who are actually tough as nails
  • Anti-heroes
  • Bitter enemies forced to cooperate grudgingly
  • Group casts of mismatched crew
  • Quippy banter
  • Rivals-to-friends
  • Ride-or-die besties
  • I’m always here for that one character with an obscure or seemingly useless skill that turns out to be essential 🙂
  • I love a dash of romantic tension (especially if it’s a queer romance) but I’m also interested in stories that explore non-romantic relationships.
  • Send me stories with sibling bonds, strong friendships & found families!

More elements I love:
Androids, artificial intelligences (good, evil or undecided), immortality, ‘god in the machine’ themes, inventive magic systems, treasure quests, space archaeology, mythological or historical references, tech/magic mashups, post-Earth human civilization, uploaded minds, wormhole travel, time shenanigans of any kind, memory-hacking, reality-bending, simulation theory, theological & existential pondering.

DO NOT SEND ME:
Please do not send me stories containing on-the-page sexual assault, or extremely gory descriptions of violence / body horror.

FAVES

Books (just a few!):

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe – Alex White
In The Vanishers’ Palace – Aliette de Bodard
The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
The Space Between Worlds – Micaiah Johnson
The Chosen and the Beautiful – Nghi Vo
Famous Men Who Never Lived – K. Chess
Sisters of the Vast Black – Lina Rather
Here and Now and Then – Mike Chen
The Annual Migration of Clouds – Premee Mohamed
A Memory Called Empire – Arkady Martine
Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao
Chasm City – Alastair Reynolds
A Dowry of Blood – S.T. Gibson

Movies & TV: Lost, Star Trek: TNG, Space Sweepers, Knives Out, Firefly, Pacific Rim, Russian Doll, The Fifth Element, Mad Max: Fury Road, Palm Springs, Another Life, Ragnarok, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Rogue One, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, The Good Place, Twelve Monkeys, Donnie Darko, San Junipero (Black Mirror), Sliding Doors.

D&D alignment: Chaotic neutral

Star Trek captain: Picard

Weird artifact: The Voynich Manuscript