Swoon Author Shani Petroff's Editing Update: Different Books, Different Habits
Some people are plotters (where they use meticulous outlines) others are pantsers (where they write as they go along). Me? Well, it depends on the project.
For Romeo & What’s Her Name, I had a chapter by chapter outline. Each chapter was spelled out in great detail, and I followed it closely. In part, because the deadline to submit to Swoon was fast approaching, and I couldn’t afford to get off course. The book changed a lot in revisions, but for that first draft, I relied heavily on my outline.
For My New Crush Gave to Me I had planned to work the same way. Yet, as I sat in front of a blank document ready to type out my outline, I found myself not wanting to do it. I knew my story, in fact I could see it as a movie playing in my head. Yet, every time I thought about writing a couple of paragraphs about each chapter, I got discouraged. I just wanted to write!
So I decided to go with that urge. When the writing impulse hits, I am definitely not one to squash it.
However, I still liked having some guidance, so I pulled out a calendar.
My New Crush Gave to Me follows a girl who rigs a Secret Santa drawing in an attempt to woo the guy of her dreams. There’s a lot of gift-giving and a lot of events that take place, and they had to occur at specific times. So I plugged everything into the calendar. I went through it thoroughly and made sure the timeline made sense, and then I started writing.
The first part of the book, that is all I used. As I got further along, I outlined a little as I went. As I mentioned, I had the story plotted in my head. I found jotting down some notes about what was going to happen in the upcoming chapter (or two or three) helped me go faster. I proceeded that way until the end.
For this book, because it took place over the course of a month, and had a lot of specifics (ie. the order of gifts, who gave who what and when), the calendar technique worked well. As for the next book? I’m back to outlining. But who knows—maybe someday I’ll try the pantser route on for size!
The good thing is there is no wrong way to draft—and regardless of how you do it, there’s always revisions to make the story so much better— and for that, I’m very grateful!