Monday, September 19, 2016


In A STORY IS A PROMISE, Bill Johnson examines the right way to open a story. And that’s important information to have. But as a PitchWars mentor, I’ve read hundreds of opening chapters and find that the same kinds of mistakes show up time and time again. With that in mind, I’ve put together a handy checklist of several ways to avoid writing the wrong opening. Ready? Let’s go!

The story starts in the wrong place
Occasionally, the story starts too late. When this occurs, the reader doesn’t have enough information to understand what is happening and/or they don’t have enough information to care about the main character. Most often, stories start too early, burdening the reader with pages and pages of material that don’t signal where the story is going or drive it forward in a meaningful way. (The best way to know if you’ve started in the right place? Share your work with critique partners and beta readers.)

The story lacks emotional resonance
There may be all sorts of exciting, dangerous, or even sad things happening in your story. But if we don’t know how these plot points impact the main character on a personal level, it makes it hard for us to buy into their journey. Give us a reason to care.

The story lacks tension
It’s easy to mistake tension for drama or action. Consequently, readers who are writing quiet (character-driven) stories sometimes mistakenly believe that their stories don’t need tension. But tension is what drives a story. Tension doesn’t have to mean running from bad guys or a storm brewing on the horizon. Tension means that there is some type of conflict—which can be internal, external, or both––driving the story forward. Otherwise, there is no reason for the reader to keep turning the pages.

The writer tries to play coy
Writers often try to hook the reader by dangling a carrot in front of them—referring to an incident that they assume will pique the reader’s curiosity and make them want to continue turning the pages. But often, these carrots confuse the reader and they end up setting the book aside. The line between hooking the reader and confusing them can be a very difficult one to walk, and CPs and beta readers play a crucial role in helping the writer get it right.

Too much backstory
If you’ve followed the PitchWars hashtag for any length of time, this is one that you’ve undoubtedly seen come up again and again. Don’t make the mistake of bogging down your opening pages with tons of information that the reader “has to have” to understand the story—if they really, truly have to have all of that information, then you’ve probably opened your story in the wrong place. But the chances are, the reader doesn’t need nearly all the information you’ve stuffed into your opening. Cut most of it, and leave only that which the reader absolutely cannot move forward without. (How do you know if you have the right balance? CPs and beta readers, of course. Noticing a theme here?)

First Day of School Syndrome
Stories that open on the first day of school are extremely common. As such, it’s exceptionally difficult to write a scene that feels fresh and engaging. The same goes for opening with dreams (in addition to signaling that you are a new writer, this technique causes the reader to feel like the writer has pulled a bait and switch, and they lose trust in the writer. Don’t take that risk). Another opening mistake along these lines—having the character gaze into a mirror. Find a more original way to convey the MC’s appearance.

Make sure your story doesn’t fall into any of the common opening traps, and you’ll be several steps closer to writing a solid opening that delivers on its promise to the reader. (Hopefully you’ve also walked away from this with a sense of how important critique partners are to the writing process. More about that here.)

Happy writing!

Posted by: Jessica Vitalis
A jack of all trades, JESSICA VITALIS worked for a private investigator, owned a modeling and talent agency, dabbled in television production, and obtained her MBA at Columbia Business School before embracing her passion for middle grade literature. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she divides her time between chasing children and wrangling words. Her debut novel, NOTHING LIKE LENNON, is currently out on submission. She’s represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch and would love to connect on Twitter or at

Friday, September 16, 2016


by Kim Long

I love hearing from my critique partners (CPs) or beta readers on a new manuscript. But I confess after the initial reaction of, "Yay, feedback!" is some dread, "How am I going to handle all of this?" It really can be overwhelming, especially when I receive feedback from several readers within a few days. That's a lot of information to take in all at once. In an effort to decrease my anxiety as much as possible, I focus on breaking things down.

First, usually, before I hand off a manuscript, I'll have an idea of a few potential issues. On my current manuscript, I worried about too much info-dump in the first chapter, whether chapter 4 was too early for a flashback, and if my MC played a big enough role in the ultimate conflict resolution. These weren't the only things, mind you. Let's face it, I knew I was going to be getting a bunch of, "What's she feeling here? Show some emotion!" comments because, yeah, that's par for the course. But those are small things. I leave the small things for the end. The first thing I want to know is whether my concerns on the bigger things match at all with my CP's concerns.

In this case, one CP totally thought too much info-dump, one CP thought it was "perfect," and one thought it might be too much, but she wasn't sure how to fix it. With that feedback, I knew chapter one was going to have to change. Got it.

The chapter 4 flashback wasn't a problem with anyone. In fact, two of the three CPs LOVED where it was in the book. WOO HOO!

The MC's role was called out by everyone. Not surprising. But, the great news was that one CP particularly had an idea changing something else in the story could work to fix that problem. Taking that suggestion, I brainstormed and developed a new sub-plot that will put my MC front and center.

Now that I had an idea what to do with the three main issues, I looked to see if any of the CPs had other, "major" issues that would call for more substantial revisions. I didn't really have any this time around, but in a previous manuscript I had a CP raise an idea I really liked that I thought could help the manuscript. I note those bigger things--things that will require writing new scenes/deleting scenes--for the next stage.

For my current manuscript, once I had my CPs' answers on the issues that I had and know their main plot/character issues, I tackled the opening first, working to reduce the info-dump. Good thing is the CP who also thought it was a problem had a couple suggestions on how to make it work.

Once I revised the first chapter and got it in a good place, I opened one CP's edits and looked for the first edit/comment. If I thought the CP's suggestion worked, I revised in my document. I did this through the entire manuscript, looking at each comment in chronological order and then editing my manuscript as I saw fit. When I reached a point that I had to make substantive revisions based on my plan to add the new sub-plot, I revised accordingly. (And in my last manuscript, this is the time where I wrote new scenes/deleted scenes to make the other substantive plot changes.) Then I returned to the CP's version and continued on my way. By the time I reached the end of my manuscript and the CP's notes, I had a revised version with the new beginning and the new sub-plot. YAY!

But I'm not done yet, of course. Next, I opened the second CP's line edits. I repeated the same process--reading each comment in order and deciding whether to revise in my manuscript. The good thing is that some of the second CP's suggestions were already taken care of through the first revision. And, if the second CP mentioned something was an issue, I had the luxury of referring back to the first CP's comments to see how that scene played with them.

I essentially repeated this process for each CP. Usually, I have only three CPs at a time. If a beta reader has overall comments, I'll read those as soon as I get them and note substantive changes I want to make.

Overall, I find the above process works well for me. I don't get overwhelmed by trying to incorporate every suggestion every CP makes at one time. Also, by focusing on a single CP's edits at one time, I can get a better idea of that CP's thoughts as they read the manuscript.

As for how many comments/suggestion I take and how many I don't, it depends on the CP, but overall I think I probably consider and make at least some kind of minor change over 80% of the time. If a CP wants a bit of emotion, fine, it probably needs it. Lol. If a CP thinks a line can be cut to better the pace, why not? If a CP is confused about something, why wouldn't I add a phrase to clarify in case that CP wouldn't be the only one confused?

Basically, I don't enter revisions with the thought of revising as little as possible. Instead, I want to make changes. I'm dying to make changes! The worst is getting something back with no feedback and no comments!  (Luckily, I have a great group of CPs where that is not a problem!)

What are your tricks or tips for handling feedback? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

HOPE in the face of rejection

by Susan Gray Foster

Whether we’ve successfully published or we’ve just completed our first manuscript and are tentatively beginning to query, we’ve all been there: In that place where someone has rejected our writing and all the hours, effort, and pieces of our soul poured into it.

Rejection can mean that a manuscript isn’t quite ready yet, that there’s work to be done. Or it can mean that the right person just hasn’t seen it yet. Most of the time, unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure which is the case.

Rejection hurts. It’s hard. We feel angry, sad, frustrated, jealous, foolish, bitter. Devastated.

But here is a truth about writing and about stories and the storytellers who milk their hearts to create them: They are full of hope.

Stories are created from the belief that human lives matter, that our stories matter, that there is meaning in life and we can help decipher and share it in some way, and that we can connect with others—even across hundreds or thousands of miles, or years.

That’s hope.
If you can remember a time in your life (maybe recent, maybe NOW, maybe long ago) when everything was hard, but a story sparked your imagination and made you believe that somewhere out there someone felt what you felt and understood, or that somewhere out there a better life was waiting to unfold for you, then you know what I’m talking about. Stories help us believe that even in the darkest times, the human spirit can triumph, that love can prevail. Stories give us hope.

If you’ve written something, it’s because you believe in that hope and you want to share it. Hold onto that.

Some of us need a moment, or several hours or days or weeks, to wallow, suffer, watch Pride and Prejudice or whatever Netflix show of choice, or to listen to a sad song on replay.

But then, whatever the next step is—whether it’s continuing along the path you’re on, or sending your manuscript to a new critique partner, revising again with some fresh feedback, finding a writers’ group, seeking out a professional editorial service, taking a class, studying a craft book or your favorite novel, setting a project aside for a bit, or writing something completely new—TAKE THAT STEP! Keep learning, growing, pushing, believing.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul –”

Give hope space to unfold its wings and take flight: Write.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


And that’s it!

2016 Pitch Wars picks have been announced! Woohoo!

Huge congratulations to the mentee/mentor matches. From all of us, we wish you luck and send writing power your way!

But for those of you who didn’t make it, this blog is for you. Actually, scrap that. This blog is for any writer out there, now and in the future, who has been knocked back, rejected, or just didn’t get the feedback they were hoping for.

Right now, you might not want to hear it, and that’s just cool. But, bookmark this page, because what follows is advice and wise words that you surely need to hear and absorb. Not one writer on this planet, and maybe others too, hasn’t been knocked back at some point in their career, and who are likely to be knocked back again in the future. We’re in this together. Remember that.

It's okay to feel disappointed, but don't stay there. You are still a writer, and your stories are still awesome. This is one step in a really long journey to get published. So eat ice-cream, drink wine, go for a run, binge watch Vikings (that might just be me!)... do whatever you need to do. Then wake up tomorrow and make a new plan to get your book into the world.
        Scarlett Cole

I know it doesn't feel that way, but not getting picked really isn't a rejection. We only get to pick one entry, and most of us loved more than that. Not getting picked for Pitch Wars doesn't define you, but how you react/respond could.

Also: PitchSlam starts 9/8, so send your entry for feedback on your query and pitch!’
        Laura Heffernan

‘Everyone has a story worth telling, but not every path to publication is the same. Not getting into one contest doesn't change the fact that you still have a story to tell, it just means that contest won't form part of your particular journey. But there are still numerous other ways to get there. So pause for a moment to regroup if you need to, eat some cake and/or low-fat pickles (or both), binge watch your favorite TV show, and then take the next step, whatever that might be. Because the only way to get there is to keep moving forward.’
        Wade Albert White

‘I didn't get into PitchWars, but I got "the call" the day after mentees were announced. Every journey is unique--don't let this one contest define you (especially because it's so highly subjective). Gather what feedback you can, solidify relationships with friends and CPs you've gained along the way, and most important of all--don't give up. (Also: kidlit writers should keep an eye on The Winged Pen for another opportunity to obtain feedback)’
        Jessica Vitalis

‘I didn't get into PitchWars my first year, but I didn't let that stop me. I revised my MS and went on to query it. By next year, I didn't think that MS was going anymore so I entered PW again — with a new MS. I got a couple requests frommentors that time around, but I had to pull my MS from consideration because I ended up getting an offer on the Contemporary YA I entered in PW the first time (ended up with two offers even!). Most journeys don't happen over night. Most take a while. As long as you stick with it, you'll get there. A lot of us mentors took multiple MSs to land an agent — and then multiple MSs on submission to land a book deal. Not getting into PW with your MS this year is NOT a reflection on your abilities or the quality of your book.’
        Kim Graff

‘When I didn't get into PW in '14. I felt horrible, that no one would ever love my MS. But a friend reminded me that this is just one tiny bump in the road. Take the time you need to mourn, but don't let one contest define your career. Don't let it define YOU. There are multiple ways to get your book out there. Reread your MS one more time, get some trusted CPs to help you with your query, and send your baby out into the world widely. The right agent or publisher will love it as much as you do.’
        Marty Mayberry

‘It hurts not to get in. We feel for you. Remember what you love about writing, what makes those hours pleasurable. Hold on to that joy. Nothing else matters - not getting an agent, not getting published. Just the delight you find along the way. Hang in there.
        Carrie Callaghan

‘We know how it feels to not be picked- for contests, for agent requests, for publishers. It's normal to be disappointed. But use what you have learned and keep writing. Keep fine-tuning your #PitchWars project, keep percolating new ideas, keep putting words down. Remember how subjective this industry is. If you keep writing, you are guaranteed to not fail, because you are doing what you love.
        Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

‘Not getting picked for PW doesn't reflect on you as a writer. It's that dreaded word you will continue to hear in this industry. Subjectivity. Take what you have learned in this experience and KEEP WRITING. Keep moving forward. I've been "rejected" for more contests than I can count on one hand. What did I do? I worked on my craft, reached out to other writers, and learned as much as I could. Don't give up, because your moment may be right around the corner!
        Monica Hoffman

 I wanted to cuddle so many entries. The concepts in my inbox were amazing. You are such a talented bunch. Some of my closest writing friends were people I met through Pitch Wars, and that’s been the biggest win of all. Stay in touch with the Pitch Wars community because the support lasts more than once a year.
        Sharon M. Johnston

‘There is success in having the courage to share your work. Finishing a book is an amazing accomplishment and one that you should be very proud of. Take these next months to polish your story and then get back out there. There are many paths to publishing. You just have to find yours!
        Amy Trueblood

‘I've judged a lot of contests over the past few years through Romance Writers and have read hundreds of queries from PItch Madness, Pitch Wars, and a few other blog contests. This was the best bunch of queries and entries I've seen yet. Be proud of where you are. So many writers have no idea where to start, or never finish even one draft. Each step you make in this journey matters.
        Stephanie Scott

‘PitchWars is just one contest, one option, among many. I didn't get in either time I entered, and landed my agent a month after the announcement last year. Because we can each only accept one mentee, we have to be super subjective. This means passing over excellent entries. If you don't get in, all it means is that this isn't your path. Take whatever time you need, but dust yourself off and keep going, because you will get there, but only if you keep fighting for it.
        Laura Brown

‘I pitched for PW twice, wasn't picked but made some amazing writer friends, wrote a new book, got an agent and deal and am now a mentor! PW is an amazing opportunity and contest but that is all it is--it isn't the only way in! This industry is full of rejection and you need a thick skin and to believe in your writing. Keep writing and keep going!
        Katie Webber Tsang

‘I wish I could squishy hug everyone who needs it! This is such a tough business because we put so much of ourselves into our work. And putting yourself out there like that takes such courage. Don't let a bump in the road send you into hiding. We need everyone in this industry! All of our beautiful differences and points of view make it a rich and wonderful world. So lean on each other. Lean on me. Keep trying, and keep putting yourself and your words out there. The community of writers I found through PW is the reason I'm still writing. Hold onto your people, and keep going.’
        Summer Spence

‘The most important thing to remember is not getting into Pitch Wars has ZERO bearing on whether you will be a published author one day! Don't let discouragement steal your joy of writing because this industry favors grit and persistence and you will get there if you make the choice to use every no as an alignment instead of a rejection.
        Destiny Cole

‘Right now, it’s okay to feel low. Cry if you want, eat carbs if you really have to, but don’t take too long about it because you have amazing stories inside you. Pull on the passion you have for the written word. Let your heart bleed, then pick up your pen or laptop, and get back at it. You’ve merely run into a rock, don’t allow it to become a wall. Success awaits, go find it.’
        E.L. Wicker

‘I didn't get into PitchWars the first time I tried. After I squeaked in the second time, it still took a year, and more revising, before I was offered rep. Being a writer is a lifestyle choice. Do what you do, and persist in it. We all get down--let there be no doubt, but try and recognize that it will pass. The only things you have some control over, really, are your books. That doesn't change regardless of which part of the journey you're on. You write. Do that some more.’
        Gabrielle K. Byrne

‘Be there for each other...listen, learn, read, write, cp and beta read, immerse yourself not only in your writing but in the writing community. It's the best around! It's not perfect, but strive to make it even better with your words, your wisdom, your heart. And know we're all here for you!
        Shari Schwarz

‘Subjectivity is truly a motherfucker. But it's one you cannot take personally. The tough part about business meeting passion, like writing or most other arts, is that it's harder to separate ourselves from our work because we put so damn much of ourselves into it. It can feel like YOU are being rejected when that's not the case at all. Contests, agents, editors, readers, this aspect of the business isn't going to go away and you need to know that you're a badass for not only completing a book but for putting yourself out there. For most submissions I received, I could see a spot on my bookshelves for them--but not a way to make them better. That's a good thing! Pitchwars was AN opportunity, not THE opportunity. Keep going. I want to see your books on my shelves.’
        Tamara Mataya

‘Agents and publishers aren't limited to one pick! I loved so many that I couldn't choose. There are a couple of mentors this year that I passed on in 2015. It didn't stop them and it won't stop you! Almost every successful author you know, did not get there via Pitch Wars. Keep writing, keep submitting and keep believing!
        Lisa Tyre

All the mentors started out without agents or publishing deals and had to climb each rung on the ladder. Every writer has their own ladder and some may be easier than others. Focus on writing the story that pleases you and don't worry about agents or deadlines or what rung you're standing on.’
        Michelle Hauck

So, you didn’t get picked, and that sucks. But, to tell you the truth, I identify more with you than my mentee. Because I am you. 

I entered Pitch Wars in 2013 with a now-trunked YA fantasy. I got a partial request (three chapters), and that was it. And, the request was from an Adult mentor. Did I neglect to mention I had no idea if I’d written a YA or Adult so I subbed to two mentors in each category? (BTW, this was before Brenda tracked such a thing. Now, that is strictly prohibited.)

Here’s also what I didn’t know in 2013: What CPs were. What betas were. What an appropriate word count was for my manuscript. That a YA with a female protagonist should include some kind of romantic element. That YA fantasy based in typical “medieval” type worlds with fairies and prophecies and dragons was a hard sell.

I queried that YA, revised, queried, revised, queried, revised. A few partial requests from agents. Nothing exciting. I had entered some other contests in 2013, and I entered a few more in 2014, and never got chosen for anything.

In the meantime, I started another book, an MG this time, about an idea I couldn’t get out of my head. See, the thing about all those unsuccessful contests is that I saw what was getting picked (need to have a hook, something that makes your manuscript completely original), I found resources on the craft of writing, and I saw what a successful query looked like. 

In other words, I got better. I entered Query Kombat in 2014 with that MG, and I made it to the agent round. Guess what happened there? Three requests. One agent I never heard from, one rejected my manuscript in 24 hours, and the other rejected within a week. Depressing? Not really. Because that contest is where I found my CPs and betas, and they read that MG, offered suggestions, and after revising I sent out my queries, which led to full requests, which led to my agent in November 2014.

Oh, and did I mention that I entered that MG in Pitch Wars 2014 and got no requests? Yep. Zero.

So, let’s circle back around. It’s the day after Pitch Wars 2016 announcements, and you didn’t get in. That sucks. But it doesn’t have to. Maybe you’re the me of 2013 and need to learn the craft and learn the market for your age category and then put that knowledge to work on a new manuscript. Or, maybe you’re the me of early 2014 who finds CPs, betas, and learns how to apply those revisions to your manuscript. Or, maybe you’re the me of late 2014, confident in her query, confident in her manuscript, doesn’t get any requests in Pitch Wars, but queries and finds her agent through that process.

This writing thing really is a journey. You learn along the way. I’m still learning as I go because it doesn’t end in a pot of gold when you get an agent. You have to write that new thing whether you sell your first thing or not. You have to keep getting better. You should want to keep getting better.

And that’s what you do here. You look at your manuscript, figure out where you are in the process, and do what you have to do to get to that next level. Pitch Wars 2016 is but one teensy way to get an agent, one stop on this journey. Take it for what it is, and keep going. We’re all on this journey with you.

Good luck!!’
        Kim Long

Know that whatever you feel right now is appropriate and right. If you weren't chosen as a mentee, and you feel down and awful because of it, let yourself feel that. If you feel compelled to jump into edits and are excited, let yourself feel that. If you want to set your MS on fire, let yourself feel that too (just umm, don't actually set your computer on fire). Feel the feels, and then come out the other side ready to focus and put the work in. Also, know that all of us in the PW community are here for you <3'
        Juliana Brandt

In 2014 I got zero requests. I got less than zero requests. I knew in 2 days that I wasn't getting in to Pitch Wars. One of the mentors who didn't select me?  Dan Koboldt, my co-mentor and critique partner. I'm represented by the best agent I could hope for. The only thing that matters is what you do next. 
        Michael Mammy

‘All the mentors chose their mentees for their individual teams, but there’s another team called Team Pitch Wars that lasts forever, and everyone makes it in!’
        Kate Foster

Monday, August 22, 2016

Your 8-Step Plan Before Diving into Edits

An agent has rejected you.

Your CPs and beta readers have given back mixed feedback and a bunch of edits.

Maybe you didn’t get chosen by a Pitch Wars mentor or into another writing contest.

Now what do you do with the manuscript?

Well, in my opinion, there are several essential steps that every author post-rejection or those hesitating outside the gates of revision hell should take before they even consider diving in. Of course, if you’re on some kind of deadline then some of these steps might need fast-forwarding, and, to be honest, the more developed your writing and techniques become, or with certain manuscripts, not all will need to be tackled. And, it just might be the time to find your manuscript a resting place upon that high, dusty shelf, but that's a blog for another day.

So, check out my (slightly tongue-in-cheek) eight step plan before diving into edits...

One: try calling the manuscript a name. Something nasty, evil, cutting. Attack that stupid, nasty, garbage bit of work. She’s let you down, for goodness sake. Ruined your only chance, your whole career. Call her Butt-Stink or Total Loser or WOS (Waste of Space) or F**ked-Up A**hole *C**t. Too much? OK, sorry. Let’s run with Vomit Pile for now.

Two: it’s perfectly OK to feel down in the dumps and overwhelmed. In fact, it’s completely normal and totally deserved. Every writer spits a little piece of soul into their Vomit Pile, and when she gets knocked back, skinned alive, and ripped to shreds, it’s a total punch in the gut. So, by all means:

1)      wallow in a little misery

2)      pour a small (MASSIVE) glass of cheap plonk – or  that Jamaican coconut rum 90% proof you brought back from holiday 10 years ago

3)     eat dessert-spoonfuls of sugar straight from the packet whilst those hot tears drip drip drip

4)      blame everyone else (because it’s totally someone else at fault)

5)      create a pillow and blanket fort and hunker down with the rum and sugar

6)      forget the housework and family (sorry, who?)

7)      scream into the mirror

8)      shrivel up in the tub

9)      tell yourself you should never write again and you were an utter fool to think you could ever be a writer

10)   have imaginary conversations, with whomever, in which you convince the world that you obviously write as well as Patrick Ness and this book should definitely go to auction where six-figure bids bounce around the room from all the big publishing houses

11)   Cope however you must, will, and can

Three: give yourself a sharp, stingy slap round the face because that’s where the depression has to end. No more misery, no more sugar, no more alcohol. A couple of days, maybe even a week or two is enough then take back control and end it. Pull on the boxing gloves and get back to work. You can and will become a brilliant writer if you’re prepared to scramble out this angry pit of despair. No famous author became famous for the giving up. No bestseller got to the top of the charts because revisions came to an abrupt end.

Four: take a week or two off from writing, or at least from prodding and poking Vomit Pile. Go to the bookstore (physical or virtual) or library and load up on books – preferably bestsellers or new releases in the same category and genre as Vomit Pile. AND READ THEM. Read, digest, analyse.

1)      Write down everything you know about the characters in the book to analyse the amount of work gone into characterisation

2)      Write or draw a picture of the world/town/house/room in which the character lives to analyse the amount of work gone into world-building

3)      Note down what and when you smell, hear and feel something, then study how the words evoked this

4)      Highlight when you are overwhelmed with emotion then note down exactly what you felt and what words, what moment set you off

It might be that you don’t have issues with some of these aspects in your own writing, but it doesn’t mean you can’t improve upon what you have or you should stop studying how other authors succeed in creating their magic.

Five: Write some other stuff. Blogs or magazine articles about anything – maybe rejection, short stories, plot outlines for new novels, character profiles. Absolutely anything and everything but not Vomit Pile.

Six: Crack on with some CPing or beta reading. This will always be one of the most awesome and effective ways to learn how to accept criticism because dishing out feedback and advice is a whole different ball game when you’ve been on the receiving end. Plus, it teaches you how to ‘see’ your manuscript, your sentences, and your structuring critically.

Seven: After all the reading, critiquing, and studying, and the all important time away from her, go to that toxic, green-glowing folder and whip out Vomit Pile. There she is. In all her hideous, rejected ugliness. Now, if you can, send her to your e-reader or print her in a different font than you're used to. Then read her. Uninterrupted. Aloud, if you like. No pauses for analysis, no time-out to ask questions, no note-taking or stunning and elaborate rainbow-effect highlighting. Just indulge that poor, neglected beast for a moment and treat her like the book she is.

Then, write critically and in detail about Vomit Pile. Really go for it. Cover all the elements of the manuscript as if you were writing a book review for Goodreads or Amazon. How did it make you feel? Was the writing smooth and the voice clear? Were there any areas you lost interest or where you skipped sections? Were the characters believable and well-defined, were their motivations obvious? Were the stakes high enough to create enough tension and an addictive read? It’s going to be hard because you know the background, but do your best.

Eight: And finally, it’s time to re-read the feedback you’ve received and get down to edits. And also the moment for you to refer immediately to the other sensational editing blogs on this website!

All in all, peeps, revisions can be tough and rejection a nightmare. So give yourself a break, have some fun and a little down time, and keep focused. Making your book shine was never going to be easy. But snatch back those reins and kick Vomit Pile’s butt. Show the world that you're not a quitter and you can make this book better.