An update from the balancing act that is writing: one morning last week I managed to cut 7000 words from my WIP in less than an hour!
I did however save the previous draft as a whole and kept the discarded chunks in a new document 😉 Killing your darlings with a safety net, that’s called.
It’s like a weight has been lifted from both the manuscript and my shoulders all at once. By removing two plot threads that were proving difficult to resolve, it now feels like it flows much better, is closer to the average 60,000 YA word count, and it isn’t as difficult to create its synopsis. Phew!
Of course I do have to repair the gaps – one of the reasons I kept the remnants was because there are bits that may prove useful. Also my memory is awful, so those bits can trigger interesting things. But I will try to fill in the holes without referral to the extracts first, to avoid treading on old ground. Pass me the high-quality Polyfilla, stat!
And, more exciting news – I broke out of my shell yesterday and attended the Australian Society of Authors and Writers Victoria’s Literary Speed Dating Event with two agents and five publishers. I described the concept in a previous post, and I am proud to say that I survived – and maybe even succeeded!
While I did a lot of preparation, including attending a Writers Victoria pitching workshop and then re-writing the pitch many times, I was still terribly nervous. I even experienced a bad case of dry-mouth, which hasn’t happened for years! Not great when you have to speak clearly and succinctly. You get three minutes with each person, so it’s suggested you give a one minute pitch which leaves two minutes for them to question you.
However, I’d decided that my first person to approach would be the agent Danielle Binks. I’ve met her previously and felt this may help my nerves. While it seemed a little odd to shake hands formerly and introduce myself to someone I already know, our pitching tutor Erina Reddan had taught us this – also to smile and look them in the eyes to establish a bond. Sounds like a given, but when your stomach is flipping and your words have fled, it’s not so easy to do!
The pitch has to show conflict, drama and resolution but use some good adjectives to make it interesting. So I said my little piece, which I’d been practising in front of various people (I’d highly recommend this, even though for me it had felt quite soul-baring). I did switch a few words here and there in my nervousness but adhered to the old show-bizz advice of ‘DON’T STOP’.
However, Danielle was lovely and professional and straight to the point – she suggested quickly my novel might be for a much younger audience than I’d intended, gave me two very good reasons why, and said to send in a one page synopsis, first three chapters and a short author bio! Yay – the pitch worked 😀
I managed to see three other people, all editors for very good publishing houses (Penguin Random House; Hardie Grant Egmont; and Echo/Bonnier), and had two of them request to see the synopsis and extract. Yes, considering my utter case of nerves, I do consider this a win 🙂
Ironically, the novel I pitched is about a very shy and clumsy teenager, for whom the only thing worse than sport is drama. Yes, it *may* be loosely based on me as a teenager! But these days my life experience tells me that it’s worth busting out of the shy protective coating – with some preparation, of course.
Now I just have to polish the old synopsis. Yikes – wish me luck!