Revision is the hardest thing to practice because it’s at the end of the writing road, which is a very long road on its own.
- If you don’t know what Pitch Wars is, read this.
- If you didn’t read the Guest Post I did on Brenda Drake’s blog, it covers the basic statistics of diversity, word count, age, sexuality, POV, and other fun stats about the Mentee books.
- If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, I can’t help you, except maybe to direct you to the nearest bookstore and/or sanitarium.
THIS PAGE (compared to the post on Brenda’s blog) talks about EVEN MORE STATISTICS! AHH! I can sense your excitement. It’s like lemons and pine needles. (Also makes a good tea.)
There are three sections of statistics in this beautiful blog post.
- The Authors
- Here you’ll find gems like how many books we’ve written before Pitch Wars, and our EMOTIONAL STATES during the editing/revision process.
- The Books
- Here you’ll get a big ball of book stats like if there are EXPLOSIONS, and how long it took us to write our PW manuscripts.
- Super Fun Times
- Here you’ll learn about taxes and 3rd derivatives and integrals…. JUST KIDDING. You’ll learn about which HOGWARTS HOUSE we got sorted into, what our favorite colors are, and how we rank Pitch Wars on a 1-10 Insanity Scale.
So what happens when you’ve been working crazily on a manuscript for nearly two months straight with a consistent low level coffee buzz surging through your veins?
Weird things. VERY WEIRD THINGS.
1. You start narrating your life, adding dialogue tags after people talk.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“Not much… she said, completely ignoring his new haircut.”
“You noticed my haircut? It’s nice, right?”
“Didn’t you hear the dialogue tag? I’m ignoring you. she said with a fiercely expressionless face.”
“But you’re smiling.”
“NO I’M NOT. OBEY THE DIALOGUE TAGS, she whispered.”
2. Your sister wakes you up to say goodnight (because you crashed at 8pm on a Saturday like a BOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY).
Sister hugs me whilst I am on the dangly edge of dreamy-land.
“Night,” she says.
I vaguely return the hug and say, “Go and build a hut in the frigid waters of the north.”
Sister says nothing. Shrugs. Goes to sleep.
Not by the frigid waters of the north. IN the frigid waters of the north. Confusion? Yes.
3. You’re brain doesn’t function at optimum capacity. But it’s on high alert at the same time. Sort of?
*hears strange sound from car*
*gets off at nearest exit*
*intends on pulling into a gas station, but there are no gas stations*
*continues driving, thinking yeah, i’ll just drive parallel to the freeway at a slower speed*
*drives for five miles down strange farm-road*
*glances out the window*
*sees Venus, Saturn, and Mars*
*realizes that Venus, Saturn, and Mars are in the Eastern sky*
CRAP I’M GOING SOUTH. CRAAAAP.
*turns on GPS which tells me to continue for 8 miles before finding a turn-around*
CRAPITY CRAP CRAP
*clock displays I should be at work right now*
CRAAP CRAAP CRAAAAAAAAAAAP.
*glares at street, heading north for 15 miles until I get back on the freeway a half hour later and only TEN MILES CLOSER TO WORK THAN WHEN I STARTED*
*walks into work 25 minutes late*
I need coffee, guys. Cofffeeeee.
For those of you either participating in this year’s Pitch Wars contest or those who are following along with the same rigorous attitude, you might know that all the mentees (the writers who submitted and got accepted) are conspiring together. Well, not really. What’s happening is we chat and complain and help each other.
The resources we’ve built in our little community are like strings and cans extending between our dark little writing caves. But that doesn’t mean YOU can’t build these resources. I want to post about the various resources we use.
Here’s the first:
What is it?
This is basically where we go to comment on our progress. Did we write something new? Delete a chunk of scenes? Come up with a great one-liner? Narrow the villain’s motivation?
As an example, in our mentees Revisions Thread, you often see people say things like: “I have two weeks to remove two characters and add a POV while also upping the tension and stakes. Send wine. Or coffee. Or both.”
Why is it important?
This might sound like a bragging thread, but it’s not. It’s a checkpoint. Taking note of the things you’ve changed is important. It lets you track your progress, remind yourself that even if you subtracted a thousand words, it still counts as writing and revising. Revision doesn’t have an inclined word count graph like you see in NaNoWriMo. Sometimes, removing words, deleting characters, honing the language to a polish-y glimmer, is TOUGH and HARD WORK and totally counts as writing.
How do YOU do this?
You don’t need a Facebook club, and you don’t need a telethon. What you need is at least one other person (a Critique Partner or a group, etc.) to commiserate with. And by commiserate, I mean complain about words and pat each other on the back for making a tough change. Talk about your changes. Talk about what frightens you about them. (Like, a two week deadline, for instance.) Help each other out—and maybe send wine and coffee.
Things I Struggle With and How I’m Fixing Them
I have a first person present narrator.
This is ironic, because I used to hate first person AND present tense. Then I read some really awesome books where the character voice snapped me up like an on-sale-snack. It wasn’t the POV or tense that I disliked in books, it was getting put into a story where I didn’t connect with the speaker. I began writing THE NAMELESS QUEEN, and it just flowed in first person. HOWEVER. It took me a while to get the hang of it.
The risk of a first person narrator is that you delve into the story (and into that character’s mind) before you as the author even have a perfect sense of who they are. If you’re like me, it won’t be until the guts of the story are on display that your character really comes into their own.
Make sure the first chapter dive into the POV is smooth and fulfilling.
If we don’t get the sense that this story needs to be in first person or that we’re benefiting from it in some way, then what was the point?
One of the methods (as explained by my lovely mentor, Laura Salters) to really dig into that first person POV is to make sure the reader has access to their thoughts.
You need to find a balance between internal monologue and external conflict. No one likes reading a three-page monologue on how your character feels about their own backstory. At the same time, no one likes to be so consumed by action that your MC is just along for the ride.
A story needs both because those things connect us to the plot (why we care about what’s happening) and the character (why we care why this particular thing is happening to this particular person).
My mission (and yours!): Go through the first chapter (and all of the ms, really) and make sure the MC’s voice shines through, that we get a sense of how they’re dealing with all the crazy chaos of The Story.
Want more writing tips?
I plan on blogging throughout the next two months while I work on my manuscript with my lovely mentor, Laura Salters. I want to share tips, hints, progress, types of changes, things to look out for in your own novel, and to share the frenzy!
I know I’m not the only one!
If you’re a mentee and you want to share the wisdom you garner from your mentor, let me know! Send me a message @Mcrebecky on Twitter or comment here or email me!
If you’re a Pitch Wars hopeful that didn’t make in this year, but you still want to dive into revisions, check out these blogs! We’ll be posting about the types of changes we’re doing, the tricks we learn from out excellent mentors, and the methods of madness we’re learning to navigate!
- Rebecca McLaughlin (The Nameless Queen)
- Lynn Forrest (The Measure of a Monster)
- Brian Palmer (A Silence Worth Breaking)
- A. S. Olivier (Chalk Circles)
- Jenn Brisendine (Under the Dust of Ransom)
- Michelle Tran (Diamond Queen)
- Vanessa Barger (Learning Space)
- Taryn Bashford (Game Face)
- Heather Murphy Capps (Spooky Jane)
- J.R. Yates (Unspeakable)
- Joan He (Hesperia)
- Jeigh Meredith (Resonant)
- Monica Hoffman (The Atlantic Bond)
- Megan England (Space Academy Rejects)
- M. C. Vaughan (The Reluctant Princess)
- Gretchen Kaup (The Mirage Shifter)
- C. L. McCollum (Traces)
- Elizabeth Leis-Newman (Callback)
- E. S. Wesley (The Outs)
- Sarahlyn Bruck (Fit)
- Jamie Manning (Out of the Ashes)
- Amanda Christine Donegon (The Zer0 Maker)
- MORE COMING SOON! (If you want to be on this list of blogging mentees, let me know!)
Pardon me while I
Ok. That’s out of the way, so let’s move on to
NOPE IT’S STILL HAPPENING AHHHHHHHHHHH IT’S LIKE THE CAPSLOCK KEY IS TAKING OVER MY LIIIIIIIFFFFEEEE
*disassembles capslock key*
There we go. Much better.
Contents of this blog post:
- Pitch War Statistics and MATH
- What is Pitch Wars? What will I be doing?
- The Agent Round
- If you didn’t get into Pitch Wars–
- I WILL BLOG EVERYTHING! Join me!
- Join Me for these 2 months!
The Stats of Pitch Wars
Pitch Wars is a contest. You submit your query+chapter 1, and you could get chosen to do a 2-month mentorship with a published author. This year (2015), it had nearly 1600 applicants, and around 100 mentors. Due to a couple lovely surprises, 125 of the applicants were accepted as mentees instead of the predicted 100-ish. That’s about a 7.8 percent chance of getting in.
If you want MORE statistics and math (like I know you do), then here are some other resources the mentors put up:
- Submission genres, titles, and word count (by Dan Kobolt)
- A mentor’s stats on what they received and what didn’t work for them (N. K. Travers)
- If anyone has any other stats, let me know and I’ll link them here!
What This Means (What is Pitch Wars?)
I’ll be working with a published author (the absolutely rad and in all other ways awesome Laura Salters) for two whole months! Working how, you ask?
I’ll know more once we dig in, but the goal is for a mentor to work with the mentee to tear apart and fix, tidy up and polish, and all-around whip the manuscript into shape in time for the mentor round.
If you’ve skimmed the “Revisions” or “Show Don’t Tell” categories on my blog, you know that I LOVE editing. Adore the crappidy crap out of it. I work as a technical writer, not because I’m good at it (I mean, I AM good at it, but that’s not why). I do it because I LOVE IT. I get to rephrase, rewrite, edit, format, reword, and mix around all sorts of documents! It’s fun!
Basically, I’m in this for the long haul. I have just enough ego (coupled lovingly with fear and determination) to know that I’ll get published someday. I just can’t stop writing EVER, and I know I’ll get there. That’s the determination you need, writer friends! The only thing that can stop you from getting what you want is you—if you give up. SO NEVER GIVE UP!
In two months, I’ll hopefully have burned my way through my manuscript, kindling what is good and carbonizing what is bad. All of this in time for the agent round.
Yep! There’s an Agent Round at the end of the two months, at the beginning of November. (Sorry NaNoWriMo 2015, I’ll likely still be working on (or just obsessing over) last year’s project: aka the project I’m working on with my mentor!!)
What is this thing you call the Agent Round?
The excerpts and pitches (similar to a first chapter/query but punchier) will get posted on the website of the fantastic lady who runs it all: Brenda Drake. For 2 days, a slew of literary agents will scour the posted submissions and comment on them to request anything from the proper query + first pages, a partial/full manuscript, a synopsis, or your favorite color! (I mean, I don’t expect they’ll be terribly focused on getting your favorite color. But I’m leaving the door open, here.)
There’s no guarantee of representation or publication, or even that anyone will request any material from the writers. But I’m sure it’s a great way to fray every single nerve in your body with an overdose of adrenaline and cortisol.
If you didn’t get in (or didn’t even submit)
Don’t despair. Basically what the mentees are doing over the next two months is barrel through the manuscript and do a slicey-dicey, building-and-changing, all-around-intensive set of revisions. At the end, we’re mimicking the query process.
There is no reason you can’t work alongside with the same fervor!
Blogging is HAPPENING
I’m going to blog throughout the two months of revisions about what sorts of things we’re looking at and changing. I want to share any new editing techniques that I learn. I want to reveal any tricks or trades or turn-abouts that I come across! How do we approach revisions, communication (my mentor is in the mystical polite land of UK = time zone fun), line edits vs. character/plot arc, scheduling?
My inner geek is becoming my outer geek and I am officially GEEKING OUT!
I created a new category for these posts called “Pitch Wars.” I was going to try to be clever, but that’s when I get into trouble.
Don’t Have WordPress?
Don’t have WordPress but you still want updates and fun times ahead? I’m adding a button on the right hand side of my blog that will say CLICK FOR EMAIL AWESOMENESS. That way, you can follow me through emails that will update you when I post something new!!
Why join me on this revision quest?
It’s important to have another set of eyes on your work. That can be a Mentor, a Critique Partner, or a Beta Reader! Use the Pitch Wars community (check out the hashtag on Twitter), or use the CP Matchmaker by Megan Grimit which will be happening on Sept 12!
Just because you didn’t get in as a mentee doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the action!
Walk with me, Writer Friends.
(Or in the case of anxiety and awesomeness, SPRINT FOR TWELVE STEPS THEN SPEED-WALK BECAUSE RUNNING IS HARD.)