Back in November, I applied to Write Team Mentor who randomly chose 100 applicants to pitch our novels in a Twitter pitch event to 35 mentors. At this point I’d just finished my Big Bad Book and figured the pitch at the end of January would be plenty of time to go over everything. Instead, I ended up moving twice, getting a full-time job, setting up my new place over the holidays when everyone was in lockdown, and didn’t really start editing until a few days before the big pitch day.

So on January I pitched with what was essentially a first draft (albeit, the newest of many first drafts).

These were my pitch tweets:

Each tweet was tweaked to be better than the last, and I wrote many that I deleted just to try again. I think that last one was my strongest, which I only managed to get to with some generous help from a friend. And just for fun I also tweeted an aesthetic:

If I’m being honest, SC was not ready to be queried. I still had changes I wanted to make, and there was something missing from it, something I couldn’t put my finger on. From where it started eleven years ago, I’ve fixed:

  • the passive MC issue
  • the foggy setting issue
  • the bland side characters issue
  • the excess characters issue
  • the pacing issue
  • the plotless issue
  • the focus issue
  • the character wants issue
  • the punctuation issues
  • the Mary Sue issue
  • the side plot issue
  • the wrong setting issue
  • the character background issue
  • the starting issue
  • the age issue
  • the saggy middle issue
  • the diversity issue
  • the character soup issue

Frankly, there’s still more to fix, but it’s getting harder to figure out what needs fixing.

Today I got back the review of my submission package. This included feedback on my query, which seems pretty good, I just needed to move a few things around.

My synopsis was WAY too long. Like, more than twice what it should’ve been. Oops. I had no idea. I kind of left it until last and then got really into writing, and I do have a tendency to write more than I need.

The review had a lot of good things to say, which is reassuring. Things like:

  • in was a clear and succinct synopsis
  • the story sounds action-packed and enjoyable
  • MC sounds fun and active and readers will root for her

And then came the actual constructive stuff pointing out what I need to work on:

  • synopsis is way too long
  • too much like screenwriting, e.g. I’m leaving out the parts an actor or a set would bring to the story. (Understandable. I have done a lot of screenwriting over the course of this draft.)
  • It’s missing a common thread to sew together the scenes. Essentially, my MC doesn’t have a clear need.

I’ve been fighting my screenwriter’s instinct since I started writing scripts, so it’s not much of a surprise that I need to keep working on that. But damn, that last point was a lightbulb moment. Minus the actual fix, that is. It was exactly what I needed to hear, the whole reason I submitted in the first place, the issue I couldn’t figure out. I’d figured out all my MC’s wants, but never really outlined her need, and that kept the story from going where I wanted it to go. Hell, I’m not sure I even know her need. Evidently, it shows.

If you’re interested in reading my query letter and synopsis, I just started a Patreon and will post them there for the Pretty Precious Patron Tier as a Work-In-Progress Sneak Peek. (Just the first page of the synopsis though because 1. it’s super long and 2. Spoilers!. You can find my Patreon here: Ivy Precarious is creating writing and videos | Patreon

So now that I know what’s missing, I should be able to improve it. But honestly? I’m tired. I love this story, and I’m not tired of it, but I’m tired of the work it takes. It’s been over eleven. damn. years. I have other ideas to plot, stories to write, projects to pursue, and I feel like I can’t properly give my attention to anything else until I see this one through. But there’s still so much to be done, and for all I know, it could be another eleven years or even more, or I’ll maybe die first. I dunno, maybe I’m just burnt out, but at some point SC stopped lifting my spirits and began to get heavy. Now it feels like it’s dragging me down, and maybe that’s a sign that I should shelve it for a while, but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t see myself stopping until it’s done, no matter how heavy it gets. I suppose we’ll see just how much weight I can take.

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash