Swoon Author Danika Stone: Finding the Middle Way
Years ago, I had an editor tear a piece of my writing apart and rewrite it (without my okay) before publication. While painful, the process had two side-effects for young, inexperienced me.
A) I didn’t trust editors.
B) I developed a VERY thick skin for revisions.
This approach worked fine for most of my writing. In fact, it was endlessly helpful during my Master’s thesis (which had fifty different versions at one point), and I never really questioned the perspective until it came to editing All the Feels. The Swoon Team completely changed my opinion on how editing can (and should!) be.
Here’s what I learned:
1. The first draft is just for the author. This was one of my biggest "aha!" moments about writing. During the first version of All the Feels I got to know the characters of Liv and Xander while I figured out the story I was telling about them. After that point, I needed to start considering other people’s experiences, and the editing team were the people who helped it happen.
2. You and your editors are on the same team. I have a pretty thick skin for edits (see A and B) so it surprised me to have the Swoon editors offer suggestions but not insist on them. I was incredibly grateful for their flexibility. The sense of trust that developed with the Swoon team was an amazing experience.
3. You need to decide what parts are unchangeable. There were places where my vision and the vision of those editing All the Feels came down on different sides. As an author, I had to decide which things I’d be flexible on, and which ones I’d rewrite—but in my own way. Understanding what was worth standing my ground was a huge step in developing writing confidence.
4. Publishing a book is a team project. The one thing I didn’t understand prior to publishing All the Feels was how much of a group experience the process was. It’s a massive undertaking! Given that, having experts at each stage along the way is the best way to polish a book into its finest form.
5. The final version of a book is for EVERYONE. If the first draft of All the Feels was written for me alone, then the last version was for the reading public. My goal was the sharpest version of my story, so that it could reach as many readers as possible. When I reached this point, I was able to look back and see how far the novel had come.
All the Feels had grown up, much like the characters had. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll agree that the final version is so much better!