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Swoon Author Maggie Ann Martin: Choose Your Own Editing Adventure

Throughout my editing process for The Big F I tried many different techniques and hit different roadblocks along the way until I made it triumphantly out the other side of edits. Let’s see if you can make it through my editing process by playing along “choose your own adventure” style below! 


A. You get your edit letter back from your editor. Do you:

1. Read it immediately (scroll to B)

2. Sit on it for a day so you can mentally prepare yourself (scroll to C)


B. You read it immediately. Oh no! You see that it's 10 pages long and you start to hyperventilate. Do you:

1. Close your laptop (scroll to D)

2. Keep reading (scroll to E)


C. You sit on it for a day so you can mentally prepare yourself. You're now ready to tackle this letter with your full brainpower! Good for you. You start to work through your editor's notes and start to think about all of the things you'll have to change. Do you:

1. Stop reading the letter and do something else to distract yourself (scroll to F)

2. Keep chugging along—you've got this! (scroll to G)




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D. You close your laptop. You took a break, ate a snack and came back around to your edit letter. You make it through with an open mind and realize that your editor is a goddess and knows exactly how to help you fix your book. It's time to dig in. Do you:

1. Start reading through and mark up things you need to change (scroll to H)

2. Pick and choose scenes to start working on (scroll to I)


E. You keep reading. Good for you! You kept at the edit letter even if it was a bit daunting. You've got this in the bag. You're ready to start getting to work on your manuscript. Do you:

1. Start reading through and mark up things you need to change (scroll to H)

2. Pick and choose scenes to start working on (scroll to I)


F. You stop reading the letter and do something else to distract yourself. You make a pit stop at the grocery store to arm yourself with very necessary ice cream. You sit back down to read the rest of your letter. Your editor totally knows what she's talking about! You're ready to re-outline your draft. Do you:

1. Make a digital outline (scroll to J)

2. Write an outline by hand (scroll to K)


G. You keep chugging along—you've got this! You are the master of your manuscript. You know that your editor is going to be the perfect sidekick to whip this baby into shape. It's time to start outlining your next draft! Do you:

1. Make a digital outline (scroll to J)

2. Write an outline by hand (scroll to K)



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H. You start reading through and mark up things you need to change. So far so good. Things aren't looking too hairy yet. But then! You run into a plot point that ties you up. You need to talk to your editor. Do you:

1. Ask for an emergency call (scroll to L)

2. Send an email asking for suggestions (scroll to M)


I. You pick and choose which scenes to start working on. You're tackling the biggest changes first, and it's paying off. You decide to go back through and piece them all together. Do you:

1. Outline how the scenes will fit back together (scroll to N)

2. Go with the flow (scroll to O)


J. You make a digital outline. You get your outline made in your Word doc or on Scrivener. Now it's time to go through and make those changes. Do you:

1. Start reading through and mark up things you need to change (scroll to H)

2. Pick and choose scenes to start working on (scroll to I)


K. You write an outline by hand. You've filled notebooks on notebooks with your ideas on how to make this baby come to life. Now it's time to start working through the manuscript. Do you:

1. Start reading through and mark up things you need to change (scroll to H)

2. Pick and choose scenes to start working on (scroll to I)



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L. You ask for an emergency call. Your editor is available to chat! She helps you work through the plot point that was tying you up and gives you some helpful tips on how to work through them on your own. The master has taught the Jedi. You have all of the tools necessary to complete this round of edits! And complete it you do, and send it back to your editor. Then you take a well-earned nap. You're done!


M. You send an email asking for suggestions. They get back to you within a day, but you've already had time to think of three ways to fix the plot snag. You bounce them off your editor, and you come up with a hybrid solution that combines both of your ideas. Twin powers, activate! You make all your changes, send it back to your editor, and bask in the glory of finishing your first round of edits! Congrats!


N. You outline how the scenes will fit back together. You've created your roadmap to success with these edits. You share the outline with your editor, she gives her input, and you are assured you're the perfect team to make your book sparkle. Huzzah! You finish your edits with the help of your trusty outline, and you're officially done with your first round of edits!


O. You just go with the flow. Drats! Going with the flow ends up costing you more time in edits than an outline would have taken. Take this knowledge as a learning experience for your next round of edits. You're going to crush it when that second edit letter comes your way! But until then, you're all done! Woo!



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All of this is to say that, no matter which route you take, or what roadblocks you might face, your edits will get done and they will make your manuscript so much stronger! You will be able to find the techniques that work best for you and learn from those that don’t. 

Author spotlight

Maggie Ann Martin

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Iowa City, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA …

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