#PitchWars 2014: My Mentee Bio

August 3, 2014 Writing Comments (16) 2654

[UPDATE: There’s a full list of this year’s mentee bios over at Dannie Morin’s site.] 

It’s been less than a year since my first Pitch Wars, but the contest is back and so am I, with a new novel and a new blog bio. Last year’s bio is still up if you’d like to read it–it includes both a snarky Joe Biden and my very favorite GIF of all time, Taylor Lautner’s sassy left hand. Being that this is my second year, and my second bio, I went Google-surfing in search of inspiration…

…and landed on the contestant survey for The Bachelor (Girl Questionnaire). Which, two things: (1) Yes, that’s really what they call it, and (2) it’s surprisingly boring.

As a proud member of the LGBT community, it seems only appropriate that I respond to the Girl Questionnaire, with select modifications to make it appropriate for a would-be Pitch Wars mentee.

Have you ever applied for the show before? If so, when?

I entered Pitch Wars in November 2013 with an adult sci-fi novel, Andromedan Sons. I didn’t come away with a mentor, but I got some awesome feedback from the mentors I queried, and even from one I didn’t [I won’t name anyone without permission]. I’m planning a revision of the book, but had to put that on the back burner while I wrote this year’s book:

Tsar Bomb is an adult thriller about a detective tracking a serial killer while carrying on a love affair with a ghost who may have been one of his victims. It’s complete, it’s a little over 80,000 words long, and you’ll get to know more if you’re one of my four chosen mentees–or if the concept sounds enticing and you tweet me. I’m always happy to talk about my book. Continue Reading

Continue Reading

“Shitty first drafts” and writing-as-sculpture

July 25, 2011 Writing Comments (1) 1273

The Intern today has an excised scene from Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, part of the site’s “International Sh*tty First Draft Week,” which reminded me of a conversation that came up at a recent writer’s group meeting. Many of us get caught up or blocked trying to write a perfect first draft, when a first draft is really meant to be raw material. As the expression goes, writing is rewriting.

I give you the writing-as-sculpting metaphor, which is either something I heard somewhere else or an original concept by yours truly. I honestly cannot recall.

Imagine writing as sculpting in clay. You begin with a rough mental image of what you’d like to craft. The first step is to build a skeleton that will support the whole weight of the work and hold it together. In sculpting, this is often a wire or wood armature. In writing, it is an outline.

A sculptor then “builds up” by throwing clay onto the armature, creating the rough shape of the final sculpture. It is from this rough shape that he or she will then cut away clay, bit by bit, to leave behind the final piece. Small pieces can be added on where needed, but mostly the final piece is “cut out” from the built up intermediate.

This is the important thing to remember about a first draft: in sculpting terms, the writer is “building up,” throwing material onto the skeleton that can later be cut and carved more carefully into the final piece. You don’t want it to look perfect, and you want to have more material than you need to work with, so you can mostly cut away rather than adding on.

Suma backs me up. From her remarks on the excised portion of her draft:

I write long. My first drafts are a study in endlessless and an experiment of how many times I can have my characters discover and rediscover the same thing and face up to the same epiphany. In first drafts, apparently everyone I write about has amnesia. That, or it takes me a few times to get a scene down right.

This means that when it comes time for revision the first thing I do is cut. I cut, then rewrite, then cut some more. (Then I do it again. And again.) The snippet of the scene I’m about to share isn’t something I cut out of horror–this does happen; I’ve been known to cut-and-cringe–this scene was simply something that didn’t fit the more I kept writing.

Continue Reading