Pitch Wars Mentor Spotlight: Brighton Walsh
Brighton Walsh is a writer of romance and New Adult, and is multi-published with Berkley, St. Martin’s Press, and Carina Press. Her work has earned her many starred reviews, and in 2015, Caged in Winter was named one of the top 10 best romances of 2015 and one of the 101 best romances of the past decade!
Hi, Brighton, and congrats on your fourth time mentoring in Pitch Wars! Publishing is subjective, but what (in your opinion) do all the stand-out entries have in common?
Thank you! I can’t wait to dive into the subs this year. As for the stand-out entries from past years, no one is going to like my answer because it’s not something quantifiable. I’d like to tell you it’s a polished MS or something else achieved with homework, but it’s not. It’s that elusive sparkle that comes with a compelling voice.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
Plotting, without a doubt. I’m a character driven writer, which means I know who my characters are inside and out, but figuring out a plot for them is where I run into snags. Especially in contemporary, because the majority of those books revolve around every day things, not explosions or hunting bad guys. Fortunately, my bestie is a plot whisperer, and she’s helped me with every solo book I’ve written. I have no idea what I’d do without her.
In terms of craft, what is your greatest strength?
Developing three-dimensional characters. I spend a lot of time (some might call it a ridiculous amount of time) pre-drafting where I really get in the head of my characters. I have an extensive character questionnaire that I fill out for both my hero and heroine. That’s where they really become full fleshed out. And even though the majority of the information I uncover in this questionnaire never shows up on the page, the details bleed through in my writing, which, I think, makes for more real characters.
You’re the author of over a dozen New Adult and Adult Romance novels. What makes for an irresistible love interest?
This is definitely a subjective answer, but for me, personally, I love a gamma hero, which means they have a mix of alpha and beta qualities. Sometimes straight alphas can come across as alphaholes, and sometimes straight betas can come across as doormats. Of course that’s not true for all alphas or all betas, but making a hero gamma is a surefire way to ensure they have the best qualities from both.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently obsessed with?
Between Pitch Wars prep and finishing a book with my co-writer, I haven’t had time to read or obsess about anything! But before that, I was gorging on all things Julianna Keyes. In mid-April, I read my first book by her, UNDECIDED, and I’ve since read six of her other books. She’s a great storyteller, and I really love her characters. Plus, hot sex. Win/win.
What qualities will you be looking for in a mentee?
In terms of their writing, I’ll be looking for that sparkling voice I mentioned earlier and a story I just can’t put down. I can’t tell you more than that, because my mentees’ books each year have varied so much. I’ve had everything from sidesplitting funny to cry my face off heartbreaking. But they’ve all had me hooked from page one, so I’ll be watching for that again. In terms of their personality, I’ll be looking for someone who has a good outlook on writing and the work involved with Pitch Wars and is just generally a pretty awesome human being. Bonus points if they’ve got a great sense of humor.
And finally, what advice do you have for writers who may be attempting a major revision for the first time?
Revisions are so hard, so I commiserate with anyone tackling them. I find them more difficult than just writing something new, because so much of what you change has a ripple effect and touches every part of your manuscript. One tip is to grab some colored Post-Its and a piece of poster board. Summarize each scene into a single sentence and write it on a Post-It note. How you do these is up to you. You might want to do a different color for each act. Or maybe for each of your characters. Or maybe each type of scene. Or whatever other way works for you. Put them on the board in the order they currently appear in your MS, then move them willy nilly however you’d like or need to. When doing revisions, it can be easy to get lost in all the tiny details. This helps you see the big picture.
For those entering Pitch Wars 2017, Brighton's MENTOR WISHLIST IS HERE!
Good luck in Pitch Wars, and, as always,