Getting Ready for #Pitchwars

The last month or so before Pitchwars is always stressful. Putting the time in to make sure your work is a polished as you can, so your story shines through and grips your dream mentor by the throat heart. But once you’ve done that, there are more things that you can do to make sure you get the most out of the event.

Make sure you’ve covered the basics – three months is not a long time. Trust me on this. If you’ve got major rewrites, adding or removing a POV, aging up or down, changing tense etc, you don’t want to be also dealing with the minor things. If a mentor thinks you might have too much to do, they might pass you over – no one wants to break their poor mentee.

  • Filtering – look for words like felt, saw, heard etc in relation to your MC. Most of the time these distance the reader from the events and can be cut.
  • Crutch words – that, just, look etc. Anything that’s overused and the text loses nothing if removed.
  • Consistency – if you have invented words, are they always spelled the same, do they always have a capital or not

Get your Submission Ready – you don’t want to be learning to write a query or synopsis on the day before submissions close. Get the practice in now, as both take a while to get your head around. Take advantage of the offers for query swaps from other mentee hopefuls, or critiques from mentors and past mentees.

Get to Know the Mentors – wishlists won’t be out for a while, but it’s good to get to know the mentors to find someone who will be a good fit for you in advance. Read their books, blog posts, tweets etc. You’re going to be working closely together so you want someone who clicks with your personality as much as possible. When the wishlists come out, pay attention to the do not want as much as the want. That can be a good way for narrowing down your selection.

Find CPs – whatever happens with the actual contest, you can always come out ahead with new CPs and friends. If you don’t have any yet, this is the ideal time. Swap a chapter or two with people who write the same as you, find someone whose work you get, and who gets yours. It can take time to find the right people, but it’s always worth it in the end.

Find a Writing Group – this one is a little different to CPs. With those, you generally want someone who writes close to what you do. They’ll know the ins and outs of your genre, and help you push your work to its best. A writing group doesn’t need to be all the same genre. In a way, it’s better not to be, because you can learn things from other styles of writing that you can apply in different ways to your own works. The point of a writing group is to build each other up, get invested in each others works as readers, to hold hands in the hard times and scream with joy in the good. These people can end up being your biggest fans, your loudest supporters, even if they’re largely based in another genre or age group.

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