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  • Writer's pictureLane Clarke

Pitch Wars '21 | Wishlist

Updated: Sep 11, 2021

Guess who's back! Back again! Welcome to my Pitch Wars Wishlist!

Banner that says "I am a 2021 Young Adult Mentor" with the Pitch Wars owl wearing earmuffs and carrying a book and coffee. The Pitch Wars logo is in the center of the banner.

I’m so excited to be mentoring in the YA category for Pitch Wars again this year! This is truly my favorite part of the year and I cannot wait to help another book and writer find their perfect advocate. I will also be accepting NA manuscripts.

This is a photo of me with a smirk because one of you will both love and hate me by the end of this!
This is a photo of me with a smirk because one of you will both love and hate me by the end of this!

Here are some things I’m good at: I majored in English Lit in college, which did nothing for my writing (sorry Jane Austen) but I can read entire books overnight, which I think will come in handy for our fast and furious pace. I’m a lawyer, so I’m frighteningly detail-oriented and I love a good deadline. My revision style is about finding the core of the story you’re trying to write and building out from there. Sometimes this might only take a few changes that will make the book sing. Sometimes this might be a massive overhaul or complete rethinking of the plot. I’m tough but cracking the heart of your book open will be totally worth it! I might not be the best mentor for anyone who can’t take tough and honest critique in the middle of a compliment sandwich. (Please ask my previous mentee, life twin, and now agent sib (!!) how I tortured....I, I mean helped...her across the finish line!)

Other fun stuff: My YA contemporary debut novel, LOVE TIMES INFINITY, releases in July 2022 with Little, Brown/Poppy! I will probably be editing your manuscript while listening to DIY YouTube videos. Oh, and I'm really proud of all of you for making it this far!

Life is a Highway (My Plan): 

I will have read my mentee’s full manuscript before choosing and already made some big picture notes, but I will be reading it for a second time with more detailed notes and editorial ideas written up in a full edit letter that will address what needs work (and what was done really well! Good writing is as much about learning how to fix things as it is about expanding on what you already do well!) Edits will cover character motivation and development, relationships between characters, world-building, dialogue. Anything! I do not particularly subscribe to any kind of traditional act structure, but pacing will be hugely important in the revisions process. I’m always open to discuss any ideas you have for tackling these edits, but I’m also happy to send you on your way and let you hash it out until you feel it’s ready. At this point, I will read the manuscript again for last round edits and to determine if the changes addressing the edit letter work. I can be as much or as little collaborative as you want, but I will encourage you (and challenge you) every step of the way. My goal is to make you a stronger writer overall, for this manuscript and for many more to come!

I am Very Online, so I respond quickly to emails, tweets, DMs, and carrier pigeons. I’m also happy to jump on the phone or even Zoom, where we all probably live now. If you send me your manuscript at 4 a.m., be prepared for some kind of squeeing response by 4:15 a.m.

NOW FOR THE FUN PART!! Here's my wishlist

I never really know what I will be totally surprised by so I'm not trying to be too specific here. My main criteria is that I completely fall in love with the manuscript. If your manuscript isn’t detailed below and isn’t on my Do Not Send list, I’m open to it! I will be prioritizing manuscripts by marginalized writers, though your manuscript does not need to be specifically labeled as #ownvoices. That is completely up to your comfort level.

What I would really love to see: 

  • Contemporary - my first love. Give me your coming-of-age stories, first love romances, anything set in the real world. I tend to like books that are a bit heavier in subject matter, but I might be surprised by something light and fun! I really love a vivid ensemble cast and a main character I can root for.

  • Paranormal - I love vampires, soft grim reapers, and banshees!! I’m not big into ghosts, zombies, or angels vs. demons.

  • I’d love an end-of-high school book where college isn’t the next step

  • I'd also love a summer before college book when everyone has one last shot to make some big confessions

  • Voice! Voice! Voice! Even if you’re book is not in my wishlist, if it has amazing voice send it! I fall in love with voice before anything!

  • Found Family 

  • Villain Origin Story - think season 1 Vanya on The Umbrella Academy

  • Romance - I love love and I want some TENSION!

  • Friendmance - the only thing I love more than a romance is a friendmance, I absolutely love when friends are just totally in platonic love with one another 

  • Friendship breakups 

  • BANTER - I love when characters roast each other

  • Grandmothers!! - If your book has a grandmother as a major character, I want it! 

  • Small town settings 

  • Virginia settings - I live here and I’m obsessed with it 

  • Character-driven narratives - I love quiet books that are about emotional arcs 

  • Contemporary with surprising speculative elements - think They Both Die at the End

  • TROPES!!! I love a good trope. Fake dating is huge for me right now and if you can hit the sweet notes of Counting Down with You and Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating, I WANT IT. One bed, enemies to lovers, childhood friends to lovers, a twist on She's All That that is body positive and joyful. I want it all.

  • Purple prose - Sue me! I love when I can tell a writer genuinely loves language 

Please don’t send the following to me: 

  • Death or abuse of a child (basically if a child is physically hurt, it’s not for me)

  • On-page sexual violence 

  • Opressor-opressed romances

  • Gore or body horror 

  • Police brutality 

  • Mysteries - I love them but probably would not be a good editor for one

  • Second person POV

  • Novels in verse - they are my favorite to read but I would not be a good editor for one

  • Speaking animals as main characters

  • Bigotry 

YA books I’ve really enjoyed recently and some Evergreen Favorites

  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

  • Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

  • Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

  • Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

  • Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

I can't wait to read your work! If you have any questions, find me on twitter (@lanewriteswords)

Check out the wishlists of the other YA mentors below!

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