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Swoon Author Lillie Vale's Editing Update: Meeting My Book for the First Time (Again)

Revising is a very different beast than drafting. And by that I don’t mean putting a comma here, a semicolon there, re-evaluating copious use of em-dashes… but grabbing the dragon by the horns and wrangling all the monstrous pieces into something resembling a polished novel.


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Small Town Hearts was the first time I actually ripped a book apart, dove into the innards, and attempted to reconstruct from scratch. And it was, well, pretty bloody.

The edit letter was the first piece of formal critique I’d ever had, and it involved a lot of unexpected changes, which of course meant rethinking a lot of things!

For one thing, the characters’ ages were all lowered to the late teens, which set in motion a chain reaction that involved configuring new motivations, new relationship dynamics, new emotional circumstances, and even a brand-new character!


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In a lot of ways, Small Town Hearts is a totally different book than it was before. And revising took a lot out of me, because I had to not only get to know my beloved characters in a new way, but they didn’t even feel like my characters anymore.

It took me a while to start thinking of them as “mine” again, and I could only do that once I told myself that these were the same Babe and Levi and Chad and Penny, just younger versions of themselves. The Small Town Hearts version of them just means I was meeting them a little earlier than expected, but they were no less them.


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Revision requires a different skill set from drafting. Drafting is all about the love, inspiration, and feel-good energy that comes pouring out of you and onto the page (or screen). Revision is all about reminding yourself, A LOT, of that love. Trust me, you’ll find it.

Small Town Hearts is now available for preorder!

Author spotlight

Lillie Vale

Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer ...

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