Gearing up for #PitchWars 2016

Getting ready for PitchWars can be a daunting task. Not just for mentors, but for mentee hopefuls as well. This is the first year I’ll be entering my MS, and all I can say is there’s an amazing amount of work that goes into getting ready, even when you’re already certain that manuscript is polished and ready. I thought mine was… nope. 🙂

Here’s what I’ve found:

  1. Have your manuscript ready: No matter how much you believe this baby is done, keep refining right up to the submission window. Why? Because things change. I decided to do a quick read-through on mine, did a few chapter swaps, and while I was able to clean up nuances and filler words here and there, I made a very large discovery along the way: my story started in the wrong place. It didn’t start too soon with fathoms of detail and description, it started too far into the story, right in the middle of an action scene. While this kept the reader engaged in movement, I offered no glimpse into the MCs nightmare, only that she was running from something terrifying and toward an end goal. What I forgot was the reason any reader would want to connect. So here I am, two weeks from submission day, and I’m writing 1-2 new opening chapters.
  2. Have a query ready: Again, thought I was done here. Did a few swaps and realized that while it was grammatically clean, my query was missing some necessary information to clarify and engage a mentor/agent. Two weeks until submission day and I’m back to the drawing board. Again, keep refining until submissions open, but don’t let your story suffer. If you’re hoping to gain a mentor, that opening chapter/MS needs to be stronger than your query.
  3. Have a synopsis ready: Not every mentor will ask for one, but it’s a good idea to have one ready. Plus it offers great practice for technical writing, and gives you a clear view into your story’s arc. Mine was written and cleaned up months ago, but I (sadly) haven’t touched it yet. It’s on my list, but query/chapters come first. The synopsis will likely be my final look project just before/during submission window opens.
  4. Have a spreadsheet ready: You are definitely going to want one of these because you’re only allowed 4 entries. I’m entering adult this year, and so far there are 40 potential mentors to choose from. I’ve already listed all of them on my spreadsheet and blocked out the information I want to list: starting with yes/no. After all, not everyone’s going to be into gritty dark dragon fantasy. That will be my first stop. Once I have narrowed that list down to no and possibles, I also have blocked out information for the mentor’s website and other stuff so I can stalk them a little and narrow the list down more. And chances are that once I’ve got it narrowed down to less than 10, I’ll be putting in a donation to score two extra entries. Especially because all of them seem so wonderful!
  5. Have a new project ready: I haven’t been through this contest before, but from what I gather, the two weeks between submissions and mentee postings is stressful for hopefuls. While it would be nice to take a breather and sleep those two weeks away (insert manic laughter and side-eye children), I want to keep busy. I’m currently deciding whether to finish editing Bloodflower, the first book in a medieval science fiction series I hope to pitch by the end of this year, or pretend it’s Nanowrimo season and write out a new story to polish next year.  Either way, I’m going to be keeping busy. 🙂

In the end, if I don’t get chosen this year, I won’t be sad. Bloodflower has been calling me all month, and that will be my no-means-no project for September.

How’s everyone else gearing up? Do you have your waiting/no-go projects ready? Because we all know what happens if you get that Big Fat Yes. 😛

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