Pitch Wars: More revisions

As I’ve written before, this book has already been through a lot of revisions. But after I began querying and received a few rejections, I knew it needed a new person, preferably an agented author. This person would know the industry, be unafraid of hurting my feelings, and would say “cut this, add this.” * Laura’s edits are spot-on, she is fantastic and thorough, and I’m incredibly grateful. Pitch Wars has made me a better writer, introduced me to other wonderful authors, and made work on this book fun again.* Part of that is studying which musical references I’m using, which often make me laugh. (Stay tuned for whether an Evening Primrose reference makes it through.)

But there is no way around it: Revisions on this round are brutal. This is for a few reasons: One, I had no idea how many filter words were lurking in this manuscript. There were embarrassingly huge amounts of words such as “like” and “just.” Two, I have tense issues, all of which I’m trying to fix (although probably not in this blog post. I am very tired). Three, there are specific deadlines in Pitch Wars and I’m a slow reviser, and also spent a week in London on a work trip (Although I did see Matilda, which was awesome. It was research!)

Finally, I read a Grantland interview with Hamilton creator and MacArthur Genius grant recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda that I pasted to the top of my “cut lines” page. It says:

“ So we studied Sweeney Todd a lot. And we studied Gypsy a lot. Shows where the structure is, there’s one fucking character and they’re a life force and you’re either an obstacle or you’re a friend but get the fuck out of the way.

I could write an entire book about Miranda’s genius, but I’m confident someone else is doing that already. (And I will definitely write more later about Hamilton, a masterpiece.) That quote was a lightning bolt for me: I had a lot of characters, many of whom I added to portray the messiness of high school. But this isn’t an ensemble piece – it’s about a floundering actress turned high school drama teacher, and she’s the main character. Once that finally dawned on me, I cut down or removed characters who were getting in the way, and beefed up real friends and love interests.

In case you’re wondering, the “cut lines” document is now more 25,000 words. Revising — not for the weak of heart.

* Laura, please note my use of the Oxford comma in this sentence.

*See, I do listen.