Taking Part in #PitMad

I took part in my first #PitMad yesterday and thought I’d talk a bit about it! For those who don’t know, #PitMad is a twitter contest which runs for 12 hours in which you tweet 140 character pitches for your novel in the hopes of attracting an agent or editor.

How it Works:

(full set of rules and explanation: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/)

You can post twice an hour per project and must include the tag #PitMad and genre/age tags such as #YA.

If an agent or editor likes your pitch then they will favourite it, meaning they are requesting a submission from you. You then just have to follow their guidelines and submit however much of your manuscript they have requested.

Research any agents before sending to them to make sure they are legit and that they are what you’re looking for.

Remember only take part if you have a completed manuscript!

You can retweet other writer’s pitches if you like them but don’t favourite any as that is only for agents/editors!

Stuff I learnt from doing it / Advice:

Have a prepared load of tweets that you have planned in advanced. Then you won’t be sat there trying to come up with them on the spot. Make sure you have plenty because twitter doesn’t always let you post the same tweets.

Don’t be worried you’re spamming. I was worried at first about tweeting my pitches twice an hour but it is genuinely advisable and everyone does it. Hundreds of pitches are tweeted every minute so the more you tweet the more likely an agent/editor is going to see and favourite you.

Summing up your book in 140 characters is super hard, and making it sound interesting is even harder. Even if you don’t get any favourites it is good practice. As I went along I found looking at other peoples pitches gave me ideas and I think I got better at it.

Upcoming PitMad contests:

September 10th 2015

December 4th 2015

I’ll definitely participate again next time around. I think it’s really worthwhile doing if you’re looking to publish. Lots of people get picked up through it including someone I know and even if you aren’t successful it is a fun experience.

Exciting news is that I got one favourite on one of my tweets and have sent my synopsis and first two chapters of The Water That Sings. Fingers crossed!

Runner Up for Project REUTSway!

A few months ago I entered a competition run by REUTS Publications called Project REUTSway, the theme of which was mythology. Each week we were tasked with writing a short story inspired by particular world mythology. The two stories I entered, for the Egyptian week and the Celtic week were named runners up! REUTS are currently doing a Runner-up tour in which they post all the entries that were runner up on their blog. Today my Celtic short story was posted. You can check it out here.

It’s a short retelling of the King Arthur legend from the point of view of the Lady of the Lake.

I’ll post another link when my other entry is posted later in the tour!

Writing Corner: Word Counts

This blog post will be looking at the differences between the different lengths of fiction and what the pros and cons of each are. Generally poetry, drama, the short story and the novel are what pops into people’s heads when they think of types of writing. People often forget about novelettes and novellas.

Micro Fiction: 1 – 100 words

Flash Fiction: 100 – 1000 words

Short Story: 1000 – 7000 words

Novelette: 7,500 – 20,000 words

Novella: 20,000 – 50,000 words

Novel: 50,000+ (though more than 110,000 is often called an ‘epic’)

(Word counts are approximate and opinions on exact boundaries may vary.)

Micro fiction is incredibly difficult to write but can be really powerful. So much meaning can be expressed in only a few words. The other interesting thing about this length is that because it is so short often the reader is left to interpret it to find their own meaning. Can you make a story out of only 7 words? It is indeed possible.

Although I put that flash fiction is 100 – 1000 I would generally consider it to be most often 350 – 800. This length allows for more description than micro fiction but still restrains how much you can say and means you have to choose the few words you do carefully to create the most meaning.

The short story is probably the most common prose length other than the novel. This is a really accessible length to write and often very rewarding. A good way to think about it is that it is basically a mini novel (going back to the previous post this works for novelettes and novellas too), it still needs all the same components as one – characters, plot, rising action, climax etc. – but is compressed into a smaller word count. Like with the other short forms, every word counts and can be used to create meaning.

All of these lengths will be published in some kind of magazine, literary journal, or anthology. There are tonnes of opportunities for publication of these lengths and so many competitions out there. It can be a great opportunity to get your work out there.

The novelette is a short form, but not short enough to be a short story. This length can allow more development of characters than a short story. As the novella is longer you can explore more complex plots than in a novelette.

In terms of publishing, novelettes and novellas don’t generally get published in magazines (as they are too long) or as a book (they are too short). However, you sometimes see novella’s by already established authors. Novel lengths vary vastly depending on the target age group and the genre. In terms of publishability (I think I may have made up that word) a shorter debut is more likely to be published.

But, all these are just numbers. What should matter is what you want to write. I think a story should just end up being the length it ends up. Forcing a story into a novel length which doesn’t have enough substance for it can mean it being full of fluff. On the reverse, trying to cut down the length of a story too much can make it loose the intended meaning or create plot holes unless it is done carefully.

From my personal experience of writing a novella, it can be a good step towards completing a novel because the shorter word goal makes it feel more attainable and completing it motivated me to finish a novel. If you’re struggling to finish a novel why not try completing a novelette or novella?

Writing Corner: Choosing a Point of View + Beginning Your Story

A lot of writers have a point of view (POV) they like writing from best i.e. first person or third person. It can be challenging to move out of your comfort zone but sometimes experimenting can be a lot of fun. When choosing a POV for your novel there are several things to consider, and pros and cons to different viewpoints.

First Person

First person narrative can be really great for getting inside a characters head. You can use this type of POV to really show the emotions and feelings your character is going through. One of the limits of first person, though, is that you only get to see the story from one characters POV. It is possible to switch to another characters first person POV for some chapters but be careful when doing this! It is very hard when doing this to make sure the narratives of the characters are different. For the most part, I would say only do this if absolutely necessary or if it gives something to the story.

For example, in my novel The Water That Sings is part is written from the first person POV of a different character. But I did this for a reason: to show how mental illness impacts on not only the sufferer but also their family and friends. In this case, it was very important to me to use both first person and multiple narratives.

Third Person

When your story has multiple protagonists third person can be very useful. It isn’t as personal as first person meaning it can often be more difficult to portray the characters feelings. But it is more flexible than first person and so works well with multiple characters.

Past or Present Tense

Most books are written in past tense and I know a lot of people find it difficult to write in present tense. I think present tense works best when combined with first person, but it is hard to pull off, so only write this way if you feel comfortable with it. If present tense seems like a daunting challenge then just stick with past tense.

Which Character?

Usually, it is very obvious which character’s POV the story should be told from. But it can be interesting to go for the less obvious choice and can give a new spin on things. How about writing from the best friends POV? Think about this, and come to a decision about who the plot impacts most. But also think about whose POV would be most interesting.

The Beginning

The opening of your story is vital. You need to grab your reader, and if you are trying to get published then you need to grab that agent/publishers. The ‘beginning’ of your story is comprised of your first line, first paragraph, first page, and first chapter. One way to grab the reader is to start with action. No nonsense, just diving straight in. But not all well-known books have an action-packed first chapter, but in that case you need to make sure your style and character(s) is captivating.

First line/paragraph – you need to come up with a clever and imaginative way to open.

First page – make sure you don’t dawdle in your first page, or your reader won’t bother making the effort to turn to the next one. E.g. the main character (MC) getting up for school one morning is one that annoys me (personally) intensely. It isn’t interesting at all. Start with something more interesting!

First chapter – this needs to show your style and character to the reader. They need to get a sense of what the story is going to be like and the personality of the MC. Your main plot probably won’t be revealed until the third+ chapter. But hinting the plot or alluding to a sense of mystery can help make the reader interested.

Writing Corner: What to Write?

So you’ve decided you want to write a book, but you’re not sure what to write. Maybe you have a few ideas and you’re not sure which to pick. Hopefully this short guide will give you a few things to think about.

Firstly, why are you writing? Are you writing for fun? Do you hope to one day be published? There are many ways to approach what to write. You could come from the direction that you want to pick something that is highly publishable in the current market. I, personally, dislike this view and think that you should write whatever you want! Just because something isn’t popular now, doesn’t mean it won’t be a few years down the line.

If you hope to finish writing your book you need to pick a project you love and will enjoy writing. You need to pick an idea that makes you excited and passionate. Writing about something you really care about will produce the best results.

If you have several ideas and aren’t sure which one to work on set them side by side (physically or in your head) and consider: how original is the plot, do I like the characters, does the idea excite me? If you’re really not sure you could put them in a hat and pick one at random!

Or, you want to write a book, but you don’t really know what to write about. Don’t force any ideas, let them come naturally. Immerse yourself in music, films, games, books, art, anything that you could draw inspiration from.

Whatever you do, just remember to actually get to the writing part!

 

Ideas suggested in Writing Corner are just that, suggestions, and may not suit every writer.

Coming Up This November!

Once again this November is going to be a busy one! NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is happening again this year. The idea is to attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. It is quite a challenge but even if you don’t reach 50k it is still great for motivating you to write.

The NaNoWriMo website: http://nanowrimo.org/

Also this November is the second year of REUTS independent YA/NA publisher’s short story project and competition Project REUTSway. Every week there is a new prompt for which you have to write a short story. This year’s theme is World Mythology, focusing on Egyptian, Celtic, Asian and Eastern European cultures. The best stories will be selected for an anthology.

For official rules see here: http://blog.reuts.com/project-reutsway-official-rules/

More information can also be found in their other blog posts.

These are some great opportunities to get you writing this coming November!

Camp NaNoWriMo has finished!

 

The July 2014 session of Camp NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writing Month) finished yesterday and I’m pleased to be able to say that I was a winner as I reached my goal of 50,000 words. I am so pleased that I managed to do this and I still can’t quite believe I wrote so many words in such a short time frame! The book isn’t finished yet though so I will be continuing to do lots of writing in the next couple of months to get it finished.

Well done to anyone else who managed to reach their targets this month!

The next session will be NaNoWriMo (the original) in November 2014.

Camp NaNoWriMo Top Tips for Success!

The July Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner, so I thought I’d share a few little bits of advice from having done NaNoWriMo twice before.

IMG_22931. Pick a project you love. You’re going to be working on the same book for a whole month so you need to pick a story which you have fallen in love with and desperately want to write or you could lose interest or give up.

2. Pick a realistic target. One of the plusses of Camp NaNoWriMo is that you can pick your word count goal, whereas the original November NaNoWriMo is fixed at 50,000 words. So if you’ve got a lot of work on or you have exams coming up and there isn’t really any way you could reach 50,000 in that month just set yourself a lower target! Don’t try to aim high, aim for what you can realistically achieve in that month. 10,000 or 20,000 might be a realistic and amazing achievement for some. I was over the moon when I managed to write 18,000 words for my first NaNoWriMo in 2011!

3. Plan. I know not everyone likes planning, but in the case of NaNoWriMo I would say at least some planning is essential for success. If you’re writing a book over a few months or even years you have the luxury of being able to dip in and out and plan as you go along if you wish. With NaNoWriMo if you don’t plan and get stuck you could lose a day or two writing time while you’re trying to figure out what will happen next, whereas if you plan all you have to do is actually do the writing part! Obviously you might still get stuck even if you plan, but I’ve found it’s the best way to approach NaNoWriMo.

4. Don’t fall behind. It’s easy to think ‘oh it won’t matter too much if I miss out today since I’m quite busy or I feel a little tired’, but missing out writing for just one or two days can make you massively behind, and then you’re left with a mountain to climb in the remaining days. Try to at least write something every day, even if it’s only a couple of hundred words because then at least it’s not nothing and it won’t be so hard later on.

5. Try and get ahead! If you have a day where you have lots of spare time don’t limit yourself to your daily word count goal. This may sound obvious, but when you get to it it’s very easy to think ‘I’ve reached my word count goal for today so I’ll do something else’ but if you have the time that day then writing extra can be very beneficial. Then later on if you have some days where you don’t have much time you won’t need to write as many words that day because you’ll have written extra on previous days.

Here’s the link to the website if you’re interested: https://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in

Good luck to everyone taking part!

First Novel

Earlier this month (January 6th to be precise) I finished writing my first novel. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to get around to sharing this amazing news on my blog, maybe because it’s taken me this long to really take in the fact. I have finished a novel. It seems so surreal to me. I’ve been writing seriously for 8 years now and for a while I never thought I’d get around to finishing one. And now I have. In 5 months. You spend 8 years of painstaking attempts and then you knock up a book in 5 months. I’m still not sure I’ve really taken it in.

The novel is called ‘The Water That Sings’ and follows the story of Anna, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. The first draft is 77,565 words long, which is 164 A4 pages (roughly a 310 page normal size novel).

Now all I have to do is edit it!

thewaterthatsings3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover and images used ©M.T.Wilson 2014

Finally Finished

It’s seems impossible to believe that what I am about to type is actually finally true. Earlier this week I finished writing my first novella: You Watched Me Fall ((c) me 2012). It seems so long ago since I started even though it was only April/May. I can now say I have finished a decent length piece of writing! As of yet I haven’t finished a full length novel but that is certainly my next target. I am also thinking of writing a sequel and prequel to YWMF which should be fun if I do decide to.

Mock non-commercial book cover by me.

You can read the novella here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/1294035-you-watched-me-fall-watty-awards-2012.

This is an original work! Please do not steal/copy any of its content. Thank you.

Links to stock used for the cover:

Wings – http://thy-darkest-hour.deviantart.com/gallery/33174077?offset=48#/d4sc87m
Model – http://acgphotography.deviantart.com/art/Fairytales-Cinderella-2-187820118?q=boost%3Apopular%20in%3Aresources%2Fstockart%2Fmodel%2Fwomen%20blonde&qo=16
Texture – http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/textures/?order=15#/d5cpo58