Lessons learned from Twitter pitch events

If you’ve been following me on twitter, or if you noticed my twitter feed to the right of this page (no, I’m not trying to make you follow me on twitter, but it doesn’t hurt to point out that I do have an account there, does it?), you probably noticed some strange things I posted. They were my pitches for the latest event, #pitmad, organised by Brenda Drake. Have you participated in any twitter pitch recently or in the past? If not, I can tell you they are fun. If you have, then you know it’s heartbreaking not to receive a heart icon (heart icon stands for “favourite,” which means the agent/editor who favoured your pitch wants to see more of your work).


Through rejection you can pinpoint some of your weaknesses, which in turn means you can improve your skills. For instance, a week or two prior to pitmad, I participated on #p2p16 for a chance to work with an editor for a month before a new round with agents would begin. Two out of the four agents I submitted my work to gave brief but very helpful feedback. They both said the same thing: my query sucked. But they also said another thing about the actual writing, which had me worked up to that moment. They said my sample pages were good. In fact, one of them called my writing “strong with great intensity.” Now, to a new writer like me, these are probably the best words any professional could ever say (yes, I did save that email for the rainy, self-doubting days). But they also pointed out my weakness, which is more important.

I’m not going to lie to you, I was angry at myself for not getting the query right after almost fifteen, if not more, rewrites. In fact, I honestly thought the last version was THE ONE.

Errmm… No! The joke was on me.


Thanks to p2p16 I now know where I have to focus my efforts. Can you imagine what it would be like to constantly have that nagging feeling at the back of my head that maybe my writing was the one that sucked, which would mean I’d have to rewrite the whole book again? For the fourth time? As much as I don’t mind editing, I don’t think I’d be able to change the entire book again.

Thanks to pitmad I now know my twitter pitches also suck. The good thing is, I don’t fret over it much. Why? Because most people can’t pitch something nice in 140 characters, minus the characters for the hashtags. Likewise, most normal people can’t tell if something’s good or bad from 140 characters of text. I’m in the same boat as everyone. It’s also a small, albeit valuable, taste/lesson of the rejections that are bound to come once I start querying the agents on my list. It helps toughen up in ways that rejections from magazines could never do.

So even though I didn’t make it through to the next round of any of those contests, I still got to gain and learn something.

If you’re interested in participating in any twitter events like the two I mentioned above, have a look at http://carissa-taylor.blogspot.gr/2013/01/contest-madness.html for the dates of some of the upcoming pitching events. It’s not a complete list, so if you have found another one, please share with the rest of us here 🙂

Page changes and other news

I have added a new contact form in case any of you, devoted readers, wanted a more immediate method of communication. I know the comment system is not very convenient for some of you. You can find the contact link at the top of the page.

Also, I decided to have a go at twitter and now I have an account there as well. You can follow me, or even better you can help me figure out how twitter works, ’cause quite frankly, I can’t understand it. Now, before you point your finger and roll on the floor in a fit of side-clenching laughter, let me assure you that there was a time when no program or electronic device hid its secrets long enough from me. And by long, I mean I had mastered it within a day. And, no, I’m not referring to a bygone decade when I still had hair on my head (haha, funny you who thought of pointing that out, haha… NOT). I’m talking current stuff. But this twitter thing is… is… an infernal and alien machine designed to drive me nuts! I’m trying to follow a simple # thingy (tags or whatever they’re called), which is why I joined in the first place. #Pitmad (or #Pitchmad) will start in a couple of weeks and I was thinking of participating. Alas, I can’t save or follow said tags. I have to type a query and do a search every time I want to see if something new is happening related to it. For the record, I did check their help page; I might as well have tried creating energy out of nothing. It only left me with more question marks dancing mockingly around my head. I have figured out how to make lists, but that’s not what I was looking for. I also found out how to comment publicly mentioning someone else (the use of the @ symbol). But I knew that from Facebook, so… I just want to be able to follow a # tag. Is it even possible?!
Anyway, if you want to follow me on twitter there’s a link to the right of the page. Hope to hear from you.

In other news, outlining the next story has proven to be harder than expected. I thought I had everything, the main story, the characters, their background stories etc, but I can’t shake the feeling the story is too short, that the plot is somehow insufficient. I have about 30 scenes, but when it comes to chapters, I fear I will have around 20. Now, of course the number of scenes or chapters has nothing to do with whether a story is the right size or not. The problem is I keep feeling the plot moves too fast. I thought about introducing a second POV character, one that already had a somewhat significant role in the story, an investigator. I figured I could have him relating information, through his investigation, to the reader, information the main POV character wouldn’t know. The investigator was originally supposed to attempt to apprehend the protagonist, so why not allow the investigator some space to grow and show his side of the story? It makes sense in a way, but when I sit down and try to write some scenes about him, it’s like I’m slamming my head on a concrete wall. With spikes. Which could mean the idea of introducing a new POV is wrong, or that I’m not fully convinced, and my gut feeling is telling me to stop. Perhaps it’s because I’m meddling with a genre I’m not very familiar (mystery).

Here’s a question for you: do you think it’s structurally acceptable to have a second POV character if that character is not the protagonist (or one of them) and his/her chapters are not equal in number to the main character?