#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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Color-coded because COLORS ARE AWESOME OBVIOUSLY.

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!

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