Team HTBM — Caitlyn and SWORN

My first pick as a PitchWars ninja mentor was Caitlyn (C.H.) McFarland’s SWORN. Besides the fact that she is an awesome person, I picked her entry because . . .

1- DRAGONS. (Or, as her human MC frequently says, “FREAKING DRAGONS!”)  They’re contemporary dragons who can turn into humans. Dude, dragons in jeans and hoodies! Why did I not think of this?

2- One of her CP’s — a very good friend of mine whose taste I trust — described SWORN’s “EPIC” romance, but with characters who can be stubborn blockheads on occasion. Sign me up. I am so there.

3- The same CP told me about Caitlyn’s beautiful descriptive passages. As someone who loves dialogue and blocking (as well as slashing words — it’s the editor in me), I thought we’d be a good team, to be strong where the other wasn’t.

4- Rhys, her MMC, is hot. REALLY hot, And part of her query said, “When one [dragon] crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.” Did I mention that I was hooked? I am SUCH a sucker for wounded, hot guys. And swords. And dragons. Particularly the fire elemental variety. (“BURN IT WITH FIRE!” and all that.)

5- Another mentor really wanted to showcase it, but as an alternate. I just HAD to get it to the agent round. It was way too cool not to make it a first choice. I had no choice but to ninja it away — with the mentor’s blessing, of course.

6- Nothing called out to me quite like SWORN did. I was given recommendations by many mentors and authors, but SWORN stuck with me from day 1 and never let go.

7- SWORN wasn’t perfect, but it had a real feeling of potential. It wasn’t stuck or mired in anything. It had breathing room to grow. It had so many possibilities, and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

8- I stalked Caitlyn and looked for all the red flags I listed in “The Science of Appearing Unrepresentable.” Not only did I not find any, but people spoke highly of her, describing her as teachable, sweet, and humble. Her CP told me Caitlyn was still kind of oblivious to her own awesomeness. How could I resist that? Now that I’ve met her, I can say that she is both confident in her abilities and willing to work and grow. That is such a good combo.

9- Caitlyn tweets things like “Time for chocolate and therapeutic word deletion. #amediting” A girl after my own heart. I love to cut words, so I needed to pick someone who wasn’t afraid of editing. Bonus points if they actually liked it.

10- Icing on the cake that I found out AFTER I picked her: she lives in the same city as I do. WIN.

Guys, keep an eye out for this book. I have a good feeling about it . . .

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Team “Here There Be Monsters” Homework — Backstory, Showing, Rhetoricals, and Thoughts

This is the homework assignment I have sent to my mentees.

Today’s topics are:

– Backstory

– Showing, not telling

– Cutting rhetorical questions

– Getting rid of unnecessary thoughts (particularly of the italicized variety)

1) First, read the two blog posts below

2) Apply them to your MS’s like your life depends on it!

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2013/09/baby-got-backstory.html

http://kidlit.com/2013/08/06/dont-ask-dont-tell/

These are two of my FAVORITE “show, don’t tell” articles. The kidlit one actually prompted a revision that cut several thousand (9000 approx) words.

3) Next, go through your ENTIRE MS and get rid of at least 90% of your rhetorical questions in the text. Turn them into declaratives or cut them altogether. For example:

Before: He looked back at the sky. How had they been found? This is the third time…

After: He looked back at the sky in disbelief. Somehow they’d been found. Again.

4) Weed out unnecessary, italicized thoughts, like the one above. Agents will KILL YOU on this one. Trust me. Show what they’re thinking with gestures, with expressions, heck, even with dialogue! Or just put it straight into the text. Don’t get rid of ALL of them, though. A well-placed direct thought can be SO powerful! But use too many of them, and they become inconsequential parts of the text. Nothing special. DON’T ROB THEM OF THEIR MAGIC BY OVERUSING THEM! (This goes for the rhetorical questions, too.)

If you have further questions on these topics, find me on Twitter or leave a comment.