When I chose my mentee, I based it solely on writing I know I would be able to help to the best of my ability. Primarily, it was writing I could connect with, and writing I knew could be developed to a point where agents would want to snatch it up and show it off to the world. A month into edits, and I'm finally ready to send her the editorial letter and my notes that I took as much time as possible with. I wanted to treat her book as if it were my own. In a way, I felt like I adopted it. And for those of you reading this, get ready world, because Andrea Pelleschi is going to take you by storm with her creative MG brilliance! (follow her on twitter btw if you haven't already - @AndreaPelleschi)
Ultimately Pitch Wars got me thinking about my own writing, and how it's been in an never ending state of evolution since I first wrote words on a page. So what exactly did I learn? Well..it's like going back to my roots, and I'm boldly going where no writer has gone before. BACK TO SQUARE ONE.
Strap in - it's going to be a bumpy ride.
First of all, after looking at all the entries into the competition, there is a definite key to originality. I've been in development of two new manuscripts right now, and one I'm absolutely shelving after fully realizing that while I love the story, the originality just isn't there. It's one thing to think of a unique concept, but it's another where you just taking a concept already done over and over and over again and just putting a twist to it.
A twist can only go so far. Of course, we'll all borrow from other works, but we need to make it our priority to separate ourselves from them as far as possible. That was one issue I did see with the entrants. It's one thing to compare yourself to a work, but it's another when I feel like I'm reading something I just read a few months ago with different character names and macguffins.
So take a look at your MS. Is it REALLY that different from the rest out there? If not, get back in there and "make it so" - see what I did there?
YES YOU CAN!
Another thing I learned? Do NOT forget your voice. You can have the greatest concept in the world, and your writing technique can be stellar, but without that voice, a MG novel is just going to fall flat. I turned down a few entrants just because their voice wasn't their yet. Voice is something that takes a LONG time to work on. I'm talking months upon months. And it isn't a very natural thing to develop. It sort of just hits you one day.
Hell, even with the MS I'm working on now, the voice needs a lot of work. I'm trying to develop it from CN which is on submission. I feel like it would be awkward if I use the same voice in one book as I did another. The characters are very different, and the voices NEED to be different as well.
Take your time, let that voice flow from you, and be natural. The only advice I can offer is to just try writing without thinking. You might find your voice coming out. Edit afterwards. Don't worry about what's on the page. Just write the first thing that comes to your mind.
Finding your voice ....it's seriously as hard as this...
These may seem like two very self explanatory things, but I'm telling you it gets lost in the creative process. We get so self absorbed with our own stories that we sometimes forget the important key things in developing a story that would connect with readers. And isn't that what it's all about? Forming that connection?
I don't know about you, but I'm back to the drawing board. I will put my MS on the back burner for awhile, and create something new yet again. Need to focus on those important bits...are you with me!???!?!?!?! Of course you are...so now let's play with some cats.