Caroline Allen's passion for writing has brought her all over the world. She's worked as a reporter and writer in London, Tokyo, Seattle and Budapest. But the newest chapter of her life has brought her to Haverhill, where she is growing her businesses as a writing coach and working on a series of novels.

Allen, 43, originally from Missouri, has been in Haverhill for two months. During that time she has explored all that downtown has to offer and has been moved by the beauty of the Merrimack River. She also joined the Phoenix Writers, an area writers group that meets at the Haverhill Public Library.

Allen hopes her niche in her new city will be as a muse for aspiring writers | a career she has been involved in for the past seven years.

"Most people say it explodes their creativity," Allen said of her coaching, collaborations she likened to an acupunturist knowing just the right spot to apply pressure that releases tension.

The same way a football coach conditions players or a baseball manager gets a team in the right mind set before a game, a writing coach brings out the best in a potential author.

"It's very exciting watching people blossom," she said. "The question is, what is that person's creative impetus and how do you nurture that?"

Because it takes so long for a novel to be written -- often four or five years -- the bond between coach and writer can be a strong one.

"It's like you're creatively dating each other," Allen said. "It's such a deep, creative connection."

Allen said a writing coach focuses on characterization and plot development, but also on developing the whole writer. She helps clients set up a work space that best helps ideas flow, create a schedule that blends their full-time job, family life and their desire to write, and develop confidence in their ability to craft the written word.

"It's not just about the writing," she said.

Allen has several techniques for unleashing the inner writer. Sometimes, she and her clients will exhume old writings from high school or college and see if the pieces can be resuscitated. Other times, they'll create two very different characters, think of a setting, and just see how those two personalities interact.

But Allen's best advice is a deceptively simple one: Just write.

"The first thing, and I tell this to everybody, is that you have to get the rough draft out of you with no judgement," she said. "You have to get it out of your head and onto the paper. If it stays in your head, it won't go anywhere."

Allen knows that fact well. She has had hundreds of articles published during her years in journalism at the University of Missouri, the Independent and the Financial Times in London, the Daily Yomiuri in Tokyo and at several newspapers and magazines in Seattle. At the age of 30, after 12 years in the journalism business, Allen decided she couldn't deny her calling any more. Since then, she has been pursuing her fiction writing career.

Several of her short stories have been published and she has now completed her first full-length fiction novel, called "Earth." Now she is shopping for an agent and hopes to complete a collection of four novels, with the other three to be titled "Water," "Air" and "Fire."

"I read fiction voraciously," she said.

When Allen meets with new clients, she starts with a free session, but when the client decides to employ her, the move isn't inexpensive.

"I charge what a good therapist would charge," Allen said.

But for the money, Allen gets quite involved. She has found that training writers one-on-one is much easier than it would be to teach a group class; she believes the writers benefit more from individualized attention.

Allen currently has clients from all over the world who correspond via the Internet. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have developed a wide array of stories that differ from the fiction Allen writes herself. One woman is writing a tale about a kingdom and a princess, another is writing a memoir and another, a former Hollywood actress, is writing a fiction piece about the famed section of Los Angeles, where she lived.

But those who hire Allen should not expect an easy ride: Her goal is to eliminate obstacles and teach them how to reach their potential, and finish the task.

"My clients work very hard," she said. "I'm not just going to take their information and ghostwrite for them."

Helping students grow their own literary perspective is a major part of her training.

"As kids, we were taught how to write essays, to standardize the way we write and think," Allen said. "But I try to help them unlearn what we learned in school. We lose all the variety when we try to standardize everything, so I try to help them get back to that original story with all the eccentricities and a quirky, unique voice. Everyone has a story."

For more information about Caroline Allen's services, call her at 857-277-8083, e-mail her at artofstorytelling@verizon.net, or visit her Web site at www.artofstorytellingonline.com.



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