Accepting the Demise of Your Darlings
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really enjoy editing. In truth, more so than writing a first draft. Which isn’t to say I don’t sometimes feel like yanking my hair out by the roots or dragging the file toward my computer’s trash icon and depositing it in there, because I definitely go through those stages. But when I don’t feel overwhelmed or disheartened, I love the process.
A book will go through several rounds of edits, some more consequent than others, before it reaches you. The first one is usually a BIG one. Let’s call it “the killer.” You’ll understand why that name is appropriate once I give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what went into shaping Not Another Love Song.
So... here’s what happened back in the fall of 2018. I received something called an editorial letter, a dreaded and anticipated email detailing all the things that work and don’t work inside your manuscript. My initial read-through of the letter led me to consume an entire tablet of bittersweet chocolate, because dark chocolate is my go-to comfort food, and I was feeling in dire need of some comforting.
When I first submitted my book to Swoon Reads, it was called Harshville. The music competition was in there, Angie was my superstar and Ten my love interest. The main difference with the original plot was that Nevada suffered from a disease that made it impossible for her to gain weight and gave her the appearance of a much older person, thus making her struggle to follow in her perfect mother’s footsteps challenging.
Kat, my editor, suggested taking the disease out.
Boom. One of my darlings was dead, and 80% of the book had to be rewritten.
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Then she suggested taking out a second darling of mine: the mystery behind Angie’s origin.
Where I accepted the demise of the first one, the second one was harder for me to stomach. I believe the reason for this was because of how insignificant it seemed to the story, so I didn’t see why removing it was so important. But then, after a long walk and an even longer talk with my favorite sounding board (my husband, who’s hyper-rational and completely detached from the book world), I came to the conclusion that since it was trivial, it didn’t bring much to my story. Thus razing it wasn’t the huge deal I’d made it out to be.
After I’d digested “the killer,” I rewrote the book, which took me two solid months. And then I resubmitted it, crossing all my fingers and toes that Kat would like my new version. And she did! (I honestly could hardly believe it). She still suggested some changes (a chapter to be taken out here, one to be added there, some scenes to be shortened, some to be expanded), but all in all, the second round of edits was pretty painless. After I sent the book back, I felt more confident in my story than ever. There was a third round (mostly minor tweaks and scene shuffles) before it was over, and the manuscript went into copyediting.
Not Another Love Song is very different from the original, but undoubtedly stronger. And I can’t wait for y’all to read it.
Cue some Shania Twain...