Being a pitchwars mentor has been an exciting experience so far, and today, that excitement reaches a fever pitch, with the declaration of all the wish-lists!
I’ll keep it simple and short. Pitchwars (click the link to know more if you’re wondering what it is) for me is all about finding that one writer who needs the help I myself needed a few years ago while on the agent hunt.
What I’m looking for as a Pitchwars mentor for the ADULT category:
(I’ll accept New Adult as well)
1. Upmarket crime fiction with serious or issue-driven stories, especially those with a feminist or social justice bent make me sit up and take notice. Add to this the element of crime, and I make a grab for that book. Pacey crime fiction that explores social issues? Sold.
I believe that exploring crime is a way of looking at things as they really are–peel away the layers, be it of individual characters, relationships or the very fabric of society. While committing a crime or investigating it, characters are either at their most extreme, or are dealing with others at their most raw, vulnerable intensity.
So a whydunit will get my immediate attention.
I like studying the periphery of crime, with characters who are absolutely believable, with plots that arise from character motivations, and are therefore very organic. I’m as much about the story as I’m about plot. Here’s a post by David Corbett that neatly summarizes my way of telling stories–I could write a paragraph, but this post tells you all about it in detail.
2. Traditional mystery: I like a whodunit just as much as a whydunit. Dark, atmospheric stories, whether urban or rural. The location of a story could be anywhere on earth, but it must have a strong sense of place. Characters who have genuine motivations to do what they are doing. A style that is simple, yet evocative. Twists in the story that are not predictable, but look inevitable when considered in retrospect. Pace, for sure, but not at the expense of characterization.
3. Great premise: One of the biggest hooks for me is a premise that will make people sit up and take notice. I love crime novels that can be summed up in one intriguing logline.
Agents and editors like stories they can sink into and forget that they are reading for work, and I’m a little of the same. Whether it is a contemporary story, a contemporary story with crime elements, a crime story that explores social justice issues, a dark traditional whodunit, a gritty thriller with romance elements, I’d like to get absorbed in your story world and forget that I’m reading to choose a mentee, and read it for its own sake. That will definitely be a plus!
I’m also a huge fan of good language. Not language that gets in the way of the story, but enhances it. Literary crime and upmarket crime fiction, especially the dark and gritty end of the spectrum, are my favourite genre.
What is not for me:
Gratuitous violence that is not integral to the story. There is violence, brutality, and ugliness in this world, and as writers it is part of our role to hold up a mirror to society. I’m fine with some pretty harsh stuff, but what is not for me is violence for the sake of violence. I’m also not a great fit for crime stories with obvious horror elements. I will consider crime with paranormal elements, or romantic elements (Disclaimer: I don’t read much paranormal, and only a little romance, so I may not have the most expertise).
I mostly end up reading and writing darker, more intense stories that happen in the real world, which may or may not involve crime. I’m also not the best fit for cosy mysteries.
My stories have been published in various magazines and journals, some of which you can find here. I also help edit the Forge Literary Magazine. Ed Wilson from Johnson & Alcock represents my work, and my debut novel You Beneath Your Skin is an Amazon bestseller, optioned for TV by Endemol Shine.
A word of warning: I end up liking tweets for no reason than I like that tweet–please do not read anything into it. I’ll never give any public indication of what my thoughts are behind the scenes. I know the torture of of waiting for decisions and will never go out of my way to cause any extra worry or anguish.
Which brings me to what will make me a good fit for you.
Why I would make a good fit as your Pitchwars Mentor
Submit to me if your story fits my wishlist, and if you want the following:
- a constant cheerleader who will ask you a lot of questions that will help you see your story in a new way
- a sounding board that will be available for your questions, and guide you to books that will help
- someone who respects your story as yours and would not try and change it as per external tastes
- someone who has experienced both rejection and success and can hold your hand through both
- an active editor at a magazine who approves and rejects stories, and has had years of experience doing it
- if you need help with structural edits or copyedits, I’m your girl. Not great with proofreading, sorry.
What makes you a good fit
Besides a fantastic story that grabs me, I’m also looking for a wordsmith who is serious about their writing, willing to consider various viewpoints before making a decision, and able to work hard.
As a mentor I’m encouraging but honest, and I’ll not sugarcoat the truths of the publishing world. I respect sensitivities, but the mentee needs to be objective and professional and understand that any feedback given is to the story, not the author. As the author, they can reject suggestions, but only after considering them with an open mind. It takes a professional to ace this writing business, so I’ll be looking for a professional–easy to work with and open to feedback.
Pitchwars Communication style
I’ll be most available via email. On twitter, I’m happy to chat, but don’t regularly check DMs.
Calls can be set up in advance–and I’m happy to answer questions that way. I’m not a Zoom or video call person, but calls over Whatsapp, Skype, Google Talk are fine. With time change differences and schedules, I’ll be able to answer your queries within a few hours or a day at the maximum, because I need to cope with a freelance job and other writing responsibilities.
I’ll be on the #AskMentor tag on twitter, answering questions on the 14th September, 8PM ET.
If you have questions, reach out. Happy to answer questions in the comments below as well. All the very best to each one of you. If you like, you can also sign up for my writing gazette to receive top-notch curated writing resources in your inbox.
To my regular readers: have you heard of pitchwars? Know anyone who has participated? What would be your advice, comments, questions to mentors and mentees?
Below are the other Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists.