Pitch Wars as a mentor is a very different experience than being a potential mentee. For two years I was on the potential side, hoping to get in, that some mentor would fall in love with my story and see how to make it better.
One thing I’ve realized this year, beyond Pitch Wars, is just how subjective everything is about this business.
Engrain this in your minds, potential mentees. Because getting picked or not, getting requests for more or not, may have nothing to do with the quality of your work. When I sort through my subs, I’m not looking for something good. I’m looking for something that I connect with. Something that makes me giddy.
Something that needs work. This contest is about improving a manuscript. As a mentor I need to find something where I see the flaws and also how to improve them.
And I can only pick one. Which means I have to be picky.
Not an easy task.
I had 50 hopefuls who thought of me as a potential mentor. Of those 50, only 6 were NA, the rest were Adult stories. Here’s a rough further breakdown:
- Contemporary Romances: 29
- Women’s Fiction: 6
- Historical: 4
- Romantic Suspense: 4
- Fantasy: 3
- Paranormal Romance: 1
- Not Accepting: 3
(note, if you aren’t quite seeing your category, I blended some together to keep this simple)
A few interesting trends I noticed: openings involving drunk girls dancing on bars, dimples (swoon!), boss/employee relationships, and a few secret (or not so secret) babies which was a wild card on my wish list and so fun to see!
Another great thing: diversity. I asked for it, I begged for it, and I gave a little squeal each time a diverse entry landed in my inbox.
A trend I noticed that began to feel like the cliché first day of school opening: waking up and going to work. Now, this could be just because of how many times I saw it, or it could be indicative of a bigger problem. If your novel starts off this way, ask yourself if this is really the inciting incident.
Another trend: prologues. A few were really cool, but each time I see a prologue, I cringe. Because while some prologues are awesome and necessary, they are kinda a taboo thing for agents and editors. And the last thing you want is to be pushed aside at the prologue. So if you have one, think really, really, really hard about if you absolutely need it or not!
I know, you want to know more about how I’m making my picks, not just general statements (and none of my trends have any bearing on my decisions). All I can say is this: it comes down to voice. And that isn’t something I can easily explain.