The edits have been made. The agent showcase approaches. And it’s time to share a bit about what the experience of being in Pitch Wars was like for me! Here, I’ll detail my mentee experience, the revision work we did, and some general thoughts as we come upon the end of this amazing and unique experience.
Ready to Work
This was a level of revision unlike any I had undertaken before. And, even though it was a ton of work, I loved every second of it!
I know Pitch Wars is a huge opportunity, and I was prepared, should I get chosen, to work incredibly hard to get my manuscript up to a level where it was ready to query. My mentors pushed me in the most supportive way possible as I improved my craft and found pulse of the story I had to tell, and then shaped it into something I’m very excited to send out into the world.
The Edit Letters
My mentors broke my revisions down into stages, which helped me reconstruct my story in a systematic way over the revision window. My Pitch Wars submission manuscript was 43,000 words, and was about to change a ton.
First, I received edit letters. Yes, that’s letters with an “s.” This was great, because I had a lot of work to do, and it kept me focused on the next thing and doing that well before we moved on. The first letters had to do with how much they loved the potential in my story, and also with digging into what would become the theme of my manuscript. The larger point that everything in the story would hinge upon.
We also looked at my main character and her central misbelief, and how that tied into theme.
And then we built that into a revised plot structure, making sure plot points were in the right places, and that the events of the story spoke to my character’s inner battle, and ultimately overcoming her misbelief. We fleshed out my antagonist and my side characters and their own arcs and stories. Once a thorough outline was in place it was TIME TO DRAFT.
The First Revisions
This wasn’t an “I can salvage most of my draft” rewrite. I probably wrote 80% new words, and anything that did stay got moved and fine-tuned. I wrote in every spare minute, and turned my first rewrite around in about 3 weeks, right before Thanksgiving. My word count had climbed well over 50k at this point, after adding in all the changes.
Then Lacee read my manuscript and gave me input on big picture, structural things, and I revised again based off of her feedback.
While Lacee was reading, Juliana walked me through a series of writing exercises meant to hone my control over metaphor and word choice and filters. She wanted to help coach me to have much more control over the words I choose to use, and to change some habits I had that created distance between me and my reader. They were fun, thorough, and really helpful.
The Next Revisions
Then it was time for me to do a round of line editing on my own. I was to look at my story, sentence by sentence, and apply the things I had learned during the exercises in order to make my language as effective as I could. This also took a few weeks of focused effort, but I could see each chapter growing more effective as I went, and that was a huge encouragement as I kept moving forward. I finished this round right before Christmas.
After that, we were ready for some outside feedback. I had two wonderful writers volunteer to CP my story via my mentors. Their insights were thoughtful, and after I heard back from them I spent some more time revising, bringing my word count up to about 58k. This led us up to early January.
Juliana hadn’t read my manuscript since I first submitted it, and I was really excited for her to see all the ways REVERIE had grown and changed. But I also knew she would point out a lot of ways it could still be made stronger.
After receiving her in-doc comments, I got to work once again. I cut about 3,000 words total, bringing my manuscript to 55k. It was fun to see her suggestions and her enthusiasm over how well the revisions had gone! All the hard work was paying off, and I was getting close to being ready to send REVERIE out to agents.
I finished line edits the last week of January, read through it one more time, and sent it to one more CP for a final proofread.
During line edits, my mentors and I worked on my pitch materials. We put together my approx. 60 word pitch for the agent showcase, and paid careful attention to my opening excerpt that will be part of the showcase as well. We edited my synopsis, and shined-up a brand new query.
And then, we were ready.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it definitely was! I look back and can’t believe all we were able to do during this window, but I’m so thankful every day I had the chance. I was able to do all this, I think, in part because I just kept looking at the next step ahead and doing that step as best as I possibly could.
My biggest goal going into Pitch Wars was to have a manuscript I’m proud of at the end of it all. And I can say just that. Through all these levels of revision and work with my mentors, I’ve put so much heart into REVERIE, and now I know my skill in execution better does justice to the potential the story always had.
My mentors were so incredibly supportive and really went above and beyond to coach me into skills and habits that I can carry with me in my writing life from this point forward. I couldn’t be more grateful to them both. How wonderful this writing community is when people are excited to take time out of their own pursuits and support another writer along the way.
I can’t control what will happen in the agent showcase, but I will send my story out into QueryLand with an open and hopeful heart.
Now I will give my mind space to build a new story, and will apply all that I’ve learned through Pitch Wars as I weave my next tale.