Since the ultimate writing contest, #PitchWars, is right around the corner, I figured I'd share some advice to those of you planning to enter this year!
I was lucky enough to be chosen as a 2016 mentee - and holy hell, did I learn a lot. If it wasn't for my critique partner, I never would have even entered. And that, dear friends, is where I'll begin my list.
Debating on Whether or Not to Enter? - The answer is YES! A million times yes. If your novel is finished but you don't know whether or not it's "good enough", the answer is still yes. You've got time to polish and edit that baby before the contest opens, so if it needs polishing, do it! Your brain is probably telling you all the reasons why you shouldn't enter - most of them ending with the fear of not getting picked. Well, let me tell you...your brain is a mean, little liar. Sure, you might not get picked as a mentee but if you don't enter, it's an automatic no. You truly have nothing to lose by entering. Half the fun is joining us on the Twitter #PitchWars hashtag before the announcements are made anyway. ;) It's your chance to connect with other writers, learn some things, share awesome gifs - and who doesn't like all of that?
Critique Partners - You need one. You need more than one. But not too many. Too many opinions can lead to a lot of contradictory advice, and how the hell are you supposed to decide which of your six CPs is right? Other than the obvious reasons for having a CP - fresh eyes to look over your story and point out its weaknesses and flaws - you need a trusted someone (or someones) to be there for you along this wild journey. You'll want to get your MS all shiny and glittering like stars - and you already know this can't be done alone. But after your MS is polished and ready to go, you still need your CPs. There will be moments when you want to give up and throw in the towel, maybe even cry into your pillow. Then after you've entered, you'll have those everlasting freak-out moments and the long, agonizing wait to see if you get picked. Your CP is the one you can lean on, the one you can lament to, the one you can spill all your worries and fears to. And if you don't get chosen as a mentee, they'll still be there. They're your writing rock(s).
As important as gold. ❤
The Writing Community - Join a group (or two) on Facebook, full of Pitch Wars hopefuls. It's a great place to share your own experiences and advice with more than just your CPs. Have a question? Ask it. Someone will likely have the answer. Want another look at your query? You'll find plenty of other writers more than willing to help! By joining these groups, you have a lot to gain - and nothing to lose. (Have you caught on to my running theme here yet?)
DON'T MAKE MY MISTAKE - Like I mentioned earlier, my CP convinced me to enter the contest with an old, long-ago shelved MS. I figured I might as well dust it off and enter it. Although I spent TONS of time revamping my query and first page, I didn't get much further into editing the rest of my MS. And, to make matters worse, I'd decided to change it from past tense to present. That alone was FREAKING TORTURE. I literally spent two whole days editing. (I'm talking about minimal sleep, breaking only to eat, let the dog out, and take care of other basic human necessities.) My brain was on the verge of collapse. My fiance thought I was totally bonkers. And, well...he was kind of right. It was incredibly stupid of me to not go through my entire MS before submitting. The reason I didn't? Well, I assumed there was no chance in hell a mentor was going to pick me. And then I got requests to see more from three of my chosen mentors. *Que my freak-out moment of epic proportions* The lesson here? Assuming very well may come back to bite you like a vicious dog with rabies. So don't assume a single thing. Don't repeat my stupid mistake.
#MenteesHelpingMentees - You've probably seen the hashtag by now. The PW class of 2016 is giving away 140 submission packages (query + first 10 pages) for the 2017 Pitch Wars Hopefuls. It's an amazing opportunity to have your entry looked over by someone who's been through the process before. If you haven't yet, check out the website. Oh, and hey! Some of the 2016 mentees are now mentors! (Myself included.) So when the rafflecopter opens, ENTER. Once again, you don't have a single thing to lose.