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Swoon Author Vicky Skinner's Editing Update: Turns Out Editing Is the Actual Best

I have a confession to make. I know the first thing everyone says when they talk about editing is how much they hate it. But, to be honest, I love the editing process.

Let’s go back for just a second to 16-year-old Vicky. 16-year-old Vicky was a terrible writer. She wrote novel after novel and they were all first drafts (and inaccurate first drafts at that), and they never went anywhere because 16-year-old Vicky hated getting criticism and hated editing and hated research.


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Fast forward to 26-year-old Vicky. I LOVE EDITING.

When I decided to upload How to Breathe Underwater to the Swoon website, I didn’t have much hope for it. To be entirely honest, I didn’t have much faith in it. I knew it had problems, and I knew it wasn’t saying exactly what I needed it to. But I couldn’t find the right way to make things work, so I was, essentially, giving up on the editing. I threw it out there in the world and I moved on to my next project. I honestly didn’t think it would make it anywhere, and then BAM, one day, I logged into my email to look for a pizza coupon (I know, surprise, right? Me, ordering pizza?) and there was an email from the Swoon team. I have never been more surprised in my life.


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And when I got that first edit letter, yes, it was scary. It was daunting. It was overwhelming. But it was also exciting because having someone else look at your work and point their finger at something and say, “Here it is. Here’s the problem,” is such a relief.


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I love nit-picking. I love agonizing over the flow of a single sentence. I love digging deeper to find a character’s motivation and analyzing their actions until it feels real and natural. I love everything about editing.

Terry Pratchett once said that the first draft is just you telling yourself the story and that’s the most accurate thing I’ve ever heard in my life. The first draft is ugly and confusing and a giant stinking mess. It’s the second and third and fourth (and God help me, the fifth and sixth and seventh) drafts where it becomes the masterpiece in your head. It’s the later drafts where you really get to know your characters and really understand why it’s a story you need to tell.

So I treasure those hours that I spend taking pages and pages of editing notes (and reading pages and pages of editing notes from my Heaven-sent editors) because it means that the final draft is going to be beautiful, and I’m willing to work to get there.

How to Breathe Underwater is now available to preorder!

Author spotlight

Vicky Skinner

Born and raised in Texas, I don't act like much of a Texan. I like cold weather and hate country ...

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