I’m not going to lie, being a part of PitchWars 2017 is a freaking amazing experience so far. The camaraderie, the unison, the fact it’s a dedicated hub of writers on the same stage as you… it’s incredible for resourcing, vibing off others, and generally making invaluable friends.
PitchWars is definitely *not* just about making a book shiny before you go in front of agents.
PitchWars is about learning another side to writing – refining your craft and increasing your discipline so you can cope with whatever future editors (or agents) throw at you in a short space of time. It hones your skills of timekeeping, organising, and yes – even stressing.
There are plenty of hints and tips passed around the writing community but it all depends on what works for you – here’s a list of things which could be a good start to search for if you’re struggling with revisions, either in or out of PitchWars;
SAVE THE CAT beat sheet (plus various others)
This is a basic layout of story structure – according to your word count, it advises what beats are hit at numerous points the story and an approximate idea of when to time them. The structure of it is detailed and fits many stories out there, but it’s a great start to see how many stages your MS meets and within what context – whether it’s all in the first 25% (bit bad) or whether you leave it all til the last 10% (also bad)
THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION by Donald Maas
This is a good resource to use if you’re wondering the benefits of showing vs telling and also want some handy examples from literary greats along the way. It poses the opinion that we, as readers, will not care about the characters or feel emotional about them if emotion isn’t evoked during pauses and other devices explained here. Good read!
TIP! – Read the beginning pages of cross-genre category novels
Something I’m doing as part of my homework is to read the first few pages of YA novels, cross-genre so not just Fantasy. See what parts work for me, which ones don’t grab me, and analyse why. It doesn’t have to be fancy but definitely put some thought behind it.
OUTLINE SPREADSHEETS – word counts, chapter-by-chapter, plot points
There’s plenty of resources out there for spreadsheets, and in the mentree group we’re sharing around our own to be of use to various stages. The first stage I’d recommend doing is a play-by-play outline of your novel. You can do it in excel or other, but this is a good tip I found worked for me.
First column, put in your chapter number.
Next column, sum up each chapter in a sentence or two, no need to go into detail.
In the next column write in which POV your chapter is in.
In the next column, write in your word count for that chapter.
This is optional, but effective if you’re using the Save the Cat sheet which calculates your hit-points based on words and chapter. In a fifth column, make a sum (eg =SUM(D5;E4) ) which will total up your word count from all previous chapters.
Here’s an example below!
These are just a very few, basic things to consider if you’re going through your own revisions and need some guidance to help. I’ll be updating more about PitchWars the more the edits go on!