I’ve been thinking lately I should blog more and now that I’ve been chosen as Dan Koboldt‘s alternate–thanks Dan!! I’m SO excited to work with you :)– it seems like a good time. I debated what to write about and thanks to feedback from my AWESOME CPs, The Off Beats, I’ve made up my mind.
With the agent round coming up, the mentors, mentees and alternates will no doubt be focusing on revision. Those who didn’t make it may also be focusing on revision and possibly *gulp* rewrites. By the way, none of you should feel bad about not being picked! It just means you have a different path, not that you’re not “good enough” (I had this complex so I know). I’ve participated in the contest before and wasn’t picked. So what did I do? Based on the feedback, I revised revised revised. Those revisions eventually turned into a complete rewrite. And then another. And another until I felt if I heard the words “revise” or “rewrite” again…
Well, you get the gist. Of course, I had moments when I wanted to give up completely, at least on this story. But the idea wouldn’t let me go. Jake, my main character, kept nagging at me. “Um…you’re the only one who can tell my story so get to it, mmkay?”
My story, A SCARRED MIND (adult mystery/thriller) started out as a screenplay in 2008, became a totally different novel in February 2010, then again in 2012, until 2013 when a fabulous agent requested an R&R. She also suggested I change it from three guys in third person to one guy, Jake, in first person. This made total sense and changed the direction/tone/everything. Changing to first person was the best thing I could’ve done for this story. Now, I feel that readers really get to know Jake and I can’t believe it was ever in third person and not totally about him. The next great decision I made was based on another CP’s feedback and that was to change it into present instead of past tense. I know some people think first person present is a death sentence but it’s really the only way this story should be told.
Therefore, my advice is if a mentor, agent, CP, your BFF, anyone whose opinion you trust suggests you change the tense, get rid of a character’s POV, rewrite the whole damn thing, DO IT. At least think about it and try rewriting the first chapter if the thought of a complete rewrite is too daunting. That’s what I did with A SCARRED MIND. I started with Chapter One to see how I’d like it and from there, the story flowed. Be open to revision. Don’t take it personally. Anyone who offers feedback is trying to help you make your story the best possible version it can be. If they didn’t care, they’d say “Yeah, it’s perfect the way it is.” Sometimes, yes, it may be perfect but be wary of anyone who doesn’t suggest you change anything. I always say “Are you SURE?” and ask questions. Often, that turns into the person saying, “Well, yeah, I did wonder about that.”
Embrace revision. It may become your friend. Rewrite is like my best friend now. I’m grateful to Rewrite. For the first time, I am confident with this story. It takes a lot for me to admit that. I wasn’t nervous at all when I submitted to Pitch Wars. All the other times, I queried agents or entered contests, I instantly wanted to snap my submission back from the Internet.
Not this time. And this time, I made it as a Pitch Wars alternate. So don’t give up. Revise. Rewrite, if need be. Above all, write your story! DON’T GIVE UP. Best of luck to everyone, whether you made it into Pitch Wars or not. Go forth and write!