Swoon Author Natalie Williamson's Editing Update: No Longer Alone
I have a hard time with first drafts. It always takes me a while to get out of my head and get over the fact that nothing I write is going to be perfect on the first try. But editing? Editing I love. Because it is so much easier for my brain to work with words that are already on the page, even if those words are the wrong ones. And also because when you get to the revision part, you’re no longer alone.
The version of Rules We’re Meant to Break that I initially uploaded to the Swoon site had already been through multiple revisions, and I knew I’d done everything I could at that point (thanks to feedback from critique partners and my awesome mentor in a pitch contest a few years back) to polish it. But I also knew there were things I could do to make the story even stronger—I just didn’t know what, exactly, those things were. So when I got my first edit letter from the fabulous Emily Settle, I was beyond ready to get to work. Especially when I read through her notes on the big picture and chapter by chapter things I needed to fix and found myself nodding along to every suggestion.
I tend to write short drafts initially, so one of the big things I had to focus on in that first edit round was adding new scenes and expanding existing ones. I also needed to cut a character (RIP, Jesse!) and rework a subplot that is really important for Amber’s character growth. In my second round of edits, I needed to rearrange the opening chapters and up the tension in the second half. In addition to drafting short, I tend to draft too nice. I can’t help it! I just want everyone to get along all the time! It’s a problem.
All in all, I added about 15k words, multiple new scenes, and a prologue I struggled with at first but now absolutely love. I did hit a few bumps along the way (because there are ALWAYS bumps), but Emily was awesome about responding to my stress emails and talking things through with me when I got stuck. Shoutout to that one night I accidentally came up with a solution to a problem in the middle of writing one of those stress emails. Good times!
Without a doubt the completed version of Rules is a much stronger, more layered story, and while it feels strange to be “done” working on it, I am so proud of where Amber and her people (and Buffy!) ended up. I can’t wait for them to be out in the wild so I can share them with you all!