#PitchWars ’17: Episode Three

I feel like my readers need to know something about me. As a nurse, as a mother, as a writer, as a HUMAN BEING, I am very much like a shark.


It’s not because I have big teeth or sandpapery skin or dead, black eyes (I mean, I do have those, but that’s not why I’m a shark). It’s because if I stop moving, I die.

Not literally die. My brain dies. My creativity and motivation die. If I stop moving, that’s it. And then the anxiety sets in, and I get crazy.

So I’m waiting for my mentor’s edit letter, and I’m slowing down. There’s no water over my gills anymore. I’m just floating here, slowly suffocating.


So I’m doing now what I did in school: STUDYING! And for Pitch Wars, studying takes the form of homework. There’s nothing quite like homework for alleviating impatience anxiety!

I’m supposed to get my edit letter today. I started checking my inbox around midnight last night, if that tells you anything about me.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I keep seeing mentions of PitchWars “homework” in places, so I decided to go look some up, to give myself something to do while I wait.

On the blog of M.K. England from last year’s PitchWars, she posts the homework her mentor gave her to complete. And . . . I’ve already done it. That’s my creative process. Things like:

  • Make each chapter title a Heading in Word
  • List all chapters with word count
  • Make a character arc chart
  • Goals and stakes analysis for each character, and
  • A lot of cutting specific words (that, such, adverbs, etc)

So, this is what my writing folder looks like for this WIP in particular:

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 18.12.22

All of my writing folders look similar-ish. The number in parenthesis is the word count. For this WIP, I used to have chapter titles, but I took them out. These are the old chapter titles, but they double as a reminder to me of what exactly happens in each chapter, so I can just glance at the file name and know about where in the story we are.

I have an Excel spreadsheet of my generic plotting, character arc, and scene&sequel formulas. Here’s a screenshot of half of my plotting spreadsheet:

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 18.15.50.png


If you’re familiar at all with K. M. Weiland’s amazing writing site, I took a lot of my plotting from her. I mixed it with Dan Wells’ 7 Point Plot Structure, and here we are.

My character arcs are also from K. M. Weiland’s site, compressed into spreadsheet format:

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 18.19.51.png

Also color coded. Just let it happen, okay? Don’t fight it.

I’ve done these for my main characters: Anya, Ivan, and Håkon. Everyone else I have a fair grip on, but they’re secondary characters right now, so I didn’t formally write their arcs. I have general arcs in mind, though.

Okay, that website has FABULOUS homework advice, but it only works if you’re not a crazy person already. And I am a crazy person already. So, moving on to Mary Ann Marlowe’s blog and her advice: put your entire story on a spreadsheet.

So. You’re never going to guess what I already did…

Well, kinda. I did basically what she’s talking about, but I didn’t really like it. However, that first run at it was just for me to see what worked. And it didn’t work, so I stopped doing it. But I can see its merit as an exercise in cutting unnecessary chapters, so I might have to run over it again and see what happens. Mary Ann has a blank spreadsheet download in her blog post, so I’ll likely get to that once I’ve finished this blog post, and if I still haven’t gotten my edit letter.

Rachel Griffin has an INCREDIBLE revising method outlined in detail on her blog. It’s a bunch of stuff I’ve tried individually, but never had the wherewithal to combine together. And she’s super visual, just like meeee, so I have good feelings about her method. I’m legitimately so excited to try this out!

I think that’s enough for now. There’s only so much homework you can do before you can’t brain anymore. I still haven’t gotten my edit letter, so I’m off to try some homework now!

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 19.51.11


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