Swoon Author Jessika Fleck's Editing Update: Once a Pantser, Always a Pantser (Sort Of)
For those who aren’t familiar, there are two types of writers: those who pants their stories (pantser = one who writes without much planning or prepping, certainly not a lot of—or any—outlining) and those who plot (plotter = does ALL the planning and plotting and outlining from each emotional beat to a detailed chapter by chapter outline).
This isn’t to say it’s completely black and white. There are definite gray areas, because everyone finds their own best method for creating their art. I live somewhere in the gray, but I’m right inside the county line of Pantserville.
And, let me tell you, it takes a lot of work and willpower to keep from packing right up and moving into the center of town. I’m most definitely a pantser at heart. And I’ll always be a pantser at heart.
And for those authors who jump into a novel head first with reckless abandon, who let their stories unwind and catch fire and allow (encourage even!) their characters to make iffy choices "just to see where it takes them," editing can be… painful.
I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of my own personal blood, sweat, and tears staining the pages of Beware the Night. When I first wrote this story I full-on pantsed it. I’ve since revised my ways (see what I did there?). These days, before I begin a story, I plot. But in the loosest sense of the word. Before I write that first scene—in the least—I know where I’m headed, where I’ve been, and where I need to end up.
Had I done that way back when, I’m not sure Beware the Night would have needed seven—yes seven—revision passes. My editor, Kat, is basically a saint. We went from big picture to major scene deletions to plot overhauls to line edits and eventually to this magic place the publishing world calls copyedits. We basically tore this story down to the bones and then built it back up. And guess what? I wouldn’t change a thing about the process. This story is exactly where it needs to be and it wouldn’t have ever gotten there without ALL the steps (and coffee).
I’m not going to lie. There were times I was sure it would never happen. That the gigantic pile of words that was my book would never come together. Times when I doubted what I was doing. And moments when I just knew it was all doomed to fail. But it’s in those moments that you have amazing editors who encourage you and critique partners who’ll lift you up by your bootstraps and other authors who’ve been there and can assure you it WILL happen and that your words are not a garbage fire. The writing community and the Swoon Reads family is The. Best.
My top 5 takeaways from this revision process:
- Editing happens individually. Book by book. I’m sure my next novel will go through a much different revision process and so on.
- Branching off takeaway #1: Just because someone else *only* had to go through one round of revisions and you’re on… Pass. Number. ELEVEN. Doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
- Coffee = life. Chocolate = energy.
- When in doubt, lean on your community, it’s what they’re there for! And because you’d do the same for another author. <3
Last but not least, YOU WILL GET THERE!