Swoon Author Danika Stone's Editing Update: Anything Is Possible
Every author knows the challenge of writing a book. Day by day, you force yourself to reach your word count. Your alpha and beta readers go through the book once, twice, maybe even a third time. You edit until you can’t see straight and finally… finally, you are ready to move forward.
The manuscript’s ready to hit bookshelves, right?
One of the things I learned (in a horrible, painful oh-my-God-how-will-I-survive-this kind of way) is that editing solo is an entirely different experience than editing for publication. Now, before you light your manuscript on fire, I need to share a secret:
You. Can. Handle. This.
When Switchback first came to Holly West, an editor with a Minority Report-esque ability to deconstruct plot, I knew there’d be changes. What I didn’t expect was for an entire character to be the issue.
That’s right. A CHARACTER. (And since my book only has two, that meant half of it basically had to be scrapped.)
*record screeches again*
Did I give up? No. Did I cry? (Uh… Let’s skip that.) Did I make a plan of attack and follow it through? Heck YES, I did!
Holly and I had a phone meeting to discuss the character rewrite. Being the AMAZING editor that she is, she had a few different approaches that might work. Holly loved Vale—my second main—and that made it so much easier to hear that Brodie wasn’t working.
*record screeches a third time*
Wait… Brodie? YES. Brodie was originally the one lost in the woods with Vale and he simply wasn’t working. He and Vale had no connection and as Holly and I talked, she was able to show me why.
It was easy enough to imagine Vale’s reactions to someone else. What if, instead of an antagonist, Vale was lost with someone she cared about? What if it wasn’t just a random schoolmate, but a best friend? And what if that friendship had to overcome as many personal challenges as the duo endured physically? As Holly and I talked, a new spin on Switchback took form.
I won’t lie, rewriting half a novel was work, but it was also incredibly fun! Ashton Hamid, a character who’d already made a minor appearance in a completely different as-yet-unfinished WIP, shifted books and took a starring role. His gamer-lost-in-the-woods storyline amped up the tension and I found myself laughing aloud as he tried (and failed) to get them to safety.
In the end, Switchback was FAR stronger than it had been in the first round. I was much happier with the outcome, and I’d fallen deeply in love with BOTH my characters, a good sign by any measure! When I got my next round of edits, Holly’s comment told me that my new character worked:
“I love Ash. And considering the amount of stupid decisions he makes, that’s saying something. :) "
So how about you? What is the most substantial editing you’ve ever taken on during a project? Pop in the comments and share. I’d love to hear!