Swoon Author Jenn P. Nguyen's Editing Update: From Fear to Love
Years ago, someone asked me about my biggest fear in life. My response was being chased by a horde of zombie Chucky dolls all holding editorial letters. Now I can honestly say that it’s only half true. I LOVE zombie Chucky—no, no, no. I can’t even joke about it without freaking out. I wanted to look for Chucky gifs for this post, but that definitely isn’t going to happen. To this day, I can’t even look at a picture of Chucky without having nightmares.
But I AM happy to say that my fear of editorial letters are gone. In fact, I kind of have a crush on them now. Like daydreaming in class, doodling their name in my notebook with tiny hearts and swirls kind of crush. Fun fact: I’ve done that for all of my crushes except for my husband. I think the fact that he had the same name as my sister made doodling his name very icky and weird.
There were a bunch of feelings that crept up while I waited for my edit letter. Anticipation. Excitement. Fear. Worry. Dread. I’ve heard horror stories about authors who had to do a complete overhaul of their novels. That they had to cut out main characters. But I was mainly worried that I wouldn’t be able to do everything Holly and Lauren asked me to. Then the day came when I finally received my edit letter. All seventeen pages of it. I might have started hyperventilating at this point.
But Holly reassured me right off the bat to calm down and not panic. Not easy, but I did try to keep that in mind as I read and reread the edit letter, letting it really sink in. It also helped that her method of revisions was EXACTLY how I tackle revisions myself. From listing all the characters descriptions/developments to having chapter outlines. Plus, all of her suggestions were awesome and totally made sense. There were so many times that I wanted to smack myself for not thinking of these solutions. So I made my notes, talked to Holly and Lauren, made more notes and a brand new chapter outline, and then dove in.
It was not easy. AT ALL. Some things were just minor adjustments like pacing issues and tweaks for better character developments. Others were a little more difficult like changing scenes around for better flow and removing a minor character. (Sorry, Faith.) And then there was the biggest challenge of all. Changing the ending, which involved writing at least five new chapters. But I was actually happy to make that particular change. A part of me always felt that the ending was a bit cliché. In fact, Taylor even called the ending ‘an overused plot in every teenage movie known to mankind’. Still, all the revisions were pretty daunting and a lot of times I had to step back and take a deep breath. But with each change I made, each page that was rewritten and fixed, I could see my story shining through and getting even better than I could have ever imagined it. All the editing made me fall even more in love with my novel. All the happy fluttery feelings are back.
It seems so weird that I used to be afraid of editorial letters at all. Now as I work on a brand new novel, I can’t help looking forward to finishing so I could dive right into editing once more!
But I still hate Chucky dolls.