Saturday, September 6, 2014

Let's Celebrate #PitchWars!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating Pitch Wars!

*throws confetti*

Three weeks ago I did something crazy and exhilarating and super fun but also scary at the same time.

I just barely finished another round of revisions on my novel when I spotted a tweet for Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars. Pitch Wars is an amazing contest where writers compete to work with a mentor for two months to get ready for an agent round. The window to enter was that exact weekend. My query was ready and my manuscript was ready...only one question remained, was I ready?

Whether I was ready or not, I decided to go for it. I'm so glad that I did because I was chosen to be mentored by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie. I'm super excited to be able to work with them and to see what ideas they have for my manuscript. Trisha and Lindsay chose Kelly Calabrese as an alternate mentee so I'm thrilled to get to know her and learn with her as a writer.

There is a huge smile on my face (still) after finding out that I was chosen. It's such a compliment to know that my novel stood out amongst all the other submissions and that Trisha and Lindsay wanted to work with me. Even if I hadn't been chosen by a mentor, I learned so much by participating.

For Pitch Wars, I sent in my query letter and the first chapter of my manuscript. Before being chosen, I was asked to share what was at stake for my character (in two sentences), a synopsis of the book (mine ended up being two pages double spaced) and a plot overview (in six sentences). Let me tell you that each of these writing activities made me think intensely about my story. I love my novel, my main character and her ups and downs, but my job was to convince others that her story is worthy of their attention. Every writer should know the heart of his or her story.

I used to ask students, "So what?" at the end of a lesson and push them to think about how what we learned tied into the rest of their school day or the rest of their life. Sure, they might be able to practice a skill with me, but we talked a lot about how they might carry it over into other areas. Asking student writers to share what is at stake for their character or what they want a reader to take a way from a non-fiction text encourages them to identify and focus in on why they are writing. Or, in other words, "So what?"

It feels somewhat brusque to ask this of writers, to challenge the writer to defend his or her writing, but it's truly about knowing why he or she writes. Ultimately, that helps to focus in and tighten the writing. 

This ended up being way longer than I intended! I always have a lot to say when it comes to reading and writing. Thanks for stopping in to celebrate with me! I'm excited to share what else I learn as I continue on this journey!

What are you celebrating this week?

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