The best part of participation in writing contests is the chance to get to know other writers--like the wonderful Brenda Drake who organizes Pitch Wars every year. This year, I had the good fortune to be chosen as a Pitch Wars Mentee by Eden Plantz, who's been helping me whip my manuscript into shape. A big thank you to both Brenda and Eden.
As a 2014 Pitch Wars Mentee, I’ve enjoyed being part of one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever experienced. One among our ranks started a Facebook group for all the Mentees and Alternates where we’ve joined to celebrate, commiserate, and simply be community. Springing from one in that creative bunch was the idea for a blog hop featuring why we wrote our Pitch Wars novel.
My manuscript, FRAMED, is a tale of starry-eyed dreamers who lose sight of their goals and themselves while chasing fame, an indictment of the spin used in news and social media to build, protect, or destroy image—no matter the cost.
This story, however, is far different from the original premise. After spending three years on manuscripts built around one set of characters (something I’d been advised against multiple times), I wondered if I could tell another story. Truthfully, focusing on those novels was productive—it was a period of honing my craft, of chipping away at those million words they say it takes to become a proficient writer. But with completion of my first manuscript and its sequels, the inside of my head became too quiet. Could I write outside that world? The fear was real. What if that’s all I had in me?
FRAMED was the startling answer. Within days of posing that question, a story bloomed, triggered by a news report about a celebrity stalker and how she’d taken to social media to defend herself then disappeared. “What if?” questions rose around the news item, filling my head with ideas. I've long been fascinated by "spin" (maybe a result of my days as a corporate lobbyist); and with the advent of social media, spin has been taken to new levels. Since I'm a sucker for love stories involving unlikely pairs in untenable situations, I couldn't resist the obstacle-rich, behind-the-scenes world of celebrity fame as a setting. Unlike my other story ideas, this one came to me in a rush from start to finish with intricate subplots spiraling out from the main plot. After committing it all to paper, all six single-spaced pages of details, I felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck. But I had my answer. And the best part, it was a story with characters and setting so different from my other manuscripts it gave me confidence and renewed belief in myself as a writer.
It was six months before I pulled out those notes and started writing. Of course, the characters had their own ideas about how the tale should be told, and I allowed them that; so there were plenty of surprises along the way. But that’s part of the fun of a first draft—discovering things along with the characters. I’m happy to say, I have another story brewing, and it, too, is a whole new world to explore. I can’t wait to get started on the next one!