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Swoon Author Caitlin Lochner's Editing Update: Soldiering Through Edits

Ah, editing. Somehow both my favorite and least favorite part of the writing process.

I knew upfront that a lot of work was going to go into A Soldier and a Liar. When the amazing Holly West and Anna Poon first called me about publishing my novel, they told me that one of the major things they wanted to do was change it from four perspectives to one, with maybe four or five feature chapters from another character’s point of view.

At the time, I was devastated. I had been writing and editing and rewriting this book for about six years by that point, and it had always, always had POV chapters from all four of my beloved main characters. I thought that cutting them out would cut a vital part of the story. I couldn’t even imagine it.

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However, it was midnight my time when we made this call, and after a good night’s sleep and a lot of thinking, I was able to consider it more rationally. I realized that these editors with so much more experience and perspective than I had knew what they were doing. They knew it would be a lot of work on everyone’s part, and yet they still believed in my story and were willing to take the risk with me and this book I love so much. So I decided to trust them.

It wasn’t easy. I went through and made an outline of my original draft that I’d posted on Swoon Reads, with all the major plot and character points. And then, when I received my edit letter detailing the (many) changes that I needed to make, I made a copy of my outline and marked up all the changes. I changed the POVs. I switched events in the timeline, I added and cut scenes, I tightened others and cut everything unnecessary. And I did this about four times. And I think just about every time, I rewrote the ending (endings are SO hard, y’all).

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I won’t lie, it was really difficult for me. Early on in the process, during my first round of edits, I panicked and sent this long email to Holly and Anna asking if I could do a few chapters in another character’s perspective, just a few, like two, and maybe we could change this one other thing—that wouldn’t be so bad, right? And Holly was so, so amazingly kind and patient in explaining to me why that wouldn’t work, and walking me through everything step by step. Having an editor who loves your work as much as you do is so important, and I am incredibly grateful to both her and Anna for guiding me through this sometimes agonizing process.

Because at the end of it all, I loved my book so much more. It felt more concise, more streamlined and better at sustaining the tension all the way throughout, more focused on the things that were really important. I couldn’t see past my love of writing from the perspective of all my characters in the beginning. But you know what they say about killing your darlings—and it’s so true. My book is all the better for it. And I owe it to my truly brilliant and patient editors, everyone who worked on it behind the scenes at Swoon, and to this community for believing in my story in the first place.

So, yeah, editing could be terrible at times. But knowing I had all these people supporting me? That made it so much easier to keep going.

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Author spotlight

Caitlin Lochner

I studied creative writing at the University of South Florida and used my BA in words to become an English …

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