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Swoon Author Chani Lynn Feener's Editing Update: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

I love working on a new project, just sitting down, putting my fingers to the keys, and letting whatever happens happen. When I start a new book I generally begin with a basic idea, nothing too fleshed out, and maybe two or three set characters to work with. Writing the first draft of Amid Stars and Darkness was no different. I sat down knowing I wanted to write about a girl and an alien. And that was it. The story developed and within two weeks I had my rough draft all set and ready to go.

Obviously, from what I just told you, I’m one of those authors that enjoys the randomness and possibility of starting something brand new. Writing, for me, is all about discovery and allowing the characters and the plot to surprise me. So, of course, when it came time to begin the editing process with Holly, my initial thought was that it was an opportunity to make new discoveries. I was confident and positive that it was going to be loads of fun! And it was! At first.

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Everything started out sunshine and rainbows. Sure, maybe there was that pesky nagging in the back of my mind that something wasn’t right, but I was going to fix it! I already had the tools to do so in the form of my edit letter and conversation with Holly. I remember that first day sitting down, ready to get started, and how excited I felt. Editing was going to be like rediscovering my book all over again! I was going to get to dig in deeper, make colossal improvements, and honor my characters by making them more distinctive. I was thrilled!

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As you’ve probably already guessed, however, that feeling didn’t last. The editing process made me feel like a character in a story, where the villain had the ability to completely drain away my confidence and fill me with self doubt. About a hundred pages in, every other sentence started reading like the worst sentence ever written. I was no longer looking forward to tackling the next big change in my notes, reworking a chapter, or even altering a single word. Suddenly, nothing I did was good enough, and, here’s the real kicker, I started HATING my book. And I’m not talking strong dislike here, people. I mean hardcore, let’s just set the thing on fire and be done with it, hatred.

I couldn’t believe I’d gone dark side so quickly, especially considering all of the edit notes were amazing. I loved each and every one of them, it was just the fact that I actually had to implement the changes myself that drove me insane. Even though there were tons of new scenes, it all started to feel redundant to me. Here was a project I’d already worked on (I wrote the thing, couldn’t that be enough?) and, frankly, now I was over it. So, when I wasn’t furious and filled with self-loathing at how awful I thought I was, I was bored.

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Neither of these emotions were good, or very productive. But I kept pushing on because (I’m under contract! Just kidding) in the back of my mind I still knew that my book needed this.

Defeating the villain was no easy feat. Finishing these edits was like finally making it over that story arc, you know, the one where the dragon’s been slain and the hero is fist bumping the air and doing a happy dance. Only, by the time I’d defeated the edit-dragon I was too exhausted to do either so I sort of just slumped in my chair and didn’t move for an hour. Or twelve.  

Basically, I started this process thinking it was going to be easy, and it was, for about half the time, until it wasn’t anymore. Then it became work, but I’m actually glad that it did. I appreciate more now what my book has become. I can point at it and proudly proclaim that the new and improved Amid Stars and Darkness is the result of my slaying a personal dragon. The book is a million times better, with a bunch of new scenes, better character development, and (you can thank Holly for this) more Trystan—because you can’t go wrong with more hot aliens!

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I am insanely excited for you all to read Amid Stars and Darkness, and I hope you find that it was well worth all the blood (I’m exaggerating) sweat, and tears (I’m not exaggerating here) that I put into it. I certainly do.

Amid Stars and Darkness is now available for preorder!

Author spotlight

Chani Lynn Feener

Chani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She …

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