Hey, all! Next week each of the 17 participating Pitch to Publication (#p2p16) editors will hold 30-minute #AskEditor sessions on Twitter so you can find out more about them, their tastes in literature, and the contest itself. Here's the schedule (all times are Eastern time zone):
On Oct. 1, the submission window opens for The Work Conference, a boutique writers' conference in New York City that's suited to hardworking, unagented authors of YA or adult literary or upmarket fiction who are serious about publishing traditionally. I had the extreme good fortune to attend the inaugural, 2016 conference as a faculty member, and although I won't be there in 2017, I highly recommend that you check it out.
It's a boutique conference, which means that everything from the agents and editors who comprise the faculty down to the food you'll eat and the types of pens in the free pen buffet are hand-picked by my friend and editing colleague Becca Heyman, whose attention to detail is astonishing. Example: the name tags were magnetized so that you didn't have to poke holes in your clothing. (Who thinks of that?! Becca, that's who.)
Even the conference attendees are hand-picked: one must apply to be admitted to this conference. While that may sound like a strange idea to some, there's great reason behind it: Becca is looking for authors who share a similar level of writing ability as well as dedication to their writing careers. Most - if not all - attendees may have day jobs, but every attendee of The Work is serious about their writing. This creates a wonderfully rich, mutually supportive environment in which to learn about craft and the business side of authorship. And the small number of attendees (30 max.) results in everyone getting to know one other by the end of the very first day. The closest I can come to describing the dynamic is a small summer camp for lit geeks. HEAVEN.
Pitch to Publication October 2016 has been announced! *mad squealing and running around with arms in the air* =*D I had so much fun last time and could not be more thrilled to participate in this Twitter contest again. *more squealing*
Whether you're just hearing about this contest for the first time or have done it before, this post is meant to help you decide whether you'll be ready to submit in October and, if so, what you should do to prepare.
This post is the latest in a series of posts inspired by my participation in Pitch to Publication. Having looked at a lot of authors' pages back in March (and having had the incredibly good fortune of getting to work with several of those people since then), I began to notice some patterns in what grabs me and where manuscripts fall down. So far I've talked about the first 5 pages, the Darkest Moment, the word count, the #p2p16 query letter, chapters (length, breaks, headings, etc.), and the novel's overall structure. Today I'm tackling your novel's first 50 pages, what I referred to in the structure post as Act I.
What should your first 50 pages accomplish? They should hook readers and set up expectations for the journey we're going to be on: the novel's tone and pacing, the setting (world-building), who the story is about, what this story is going to be about thematically, and what the primary external conflict involves.
My current thinking about structure - which I use both for my own novels and for working with clients' books - is influenced primarily by the three-act structure as explained to me by my friend Diane Gilman, who wrote screenplays for many years, and by Viki King's description of the nine plot points in her book How to Write a Movie in 21 Days. Influenced being the operative word; what I offer here is not a straight mash-up of those two approaches. I'm not convinced that my philosophy is complete yet, but it's a start, and I think it's worth sharing at this point.
Act I: The Beginning
This is The Beginning of your story, starting on on page 1. It introduces the novel's setting, tone, characters, and theme(s) and includes two inciting incidents: the one that happens within the first five or six pages, and the one that heralds the end of Act I, around page 50.
Yes, that's right: Act I is only 50 pages long. If that.