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Swoon Author Shani Petroff's Editing Update: Setting the Tone

When I wrote Romeo & What’s Her Name I included a lot of physical comedy. The main character Emily would duck for cover, knock things over, and in general was a pretty big klutz.

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When I wrote my first draft of Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over, some of that started creeping in. There was a scene where my main character Sari thought she spotted her ex in the airport. She ducked for cover, pulled out her phone, and FaceTimed her BFF. As Sari stayed hidden, she held up the phone and had her friend play lookout. In comedy of error fashion, the ex was standing over Sari, as her BFF exclaimed she couldn’t see anything. 

It was a fun scene to write.

Only… it wasn’t right.

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What was right for Romeo & What’s Her Name wasn’t right for Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over. I still wanted humor and funny moments, but it needed a different tone. So it was back to the drawing board. I sat down and flushed out Sari’s character. How would she react to a situation where her ex was in the airport? How could I still make it funny, but not slapstick-y? I reworked scenes, characters, situations, and then I rewrote the whole book.

That’s right—the whole book.

There’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you finish a book. So starting over can be frustrating. It feels like a huge mountain to climb.

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Like Sari, I wanted to be at my destination, not back at square one. But I also wanted my book to be the best it could be, so I did the only thing I could—I sat back down and got to work. 

And you know what? When I finished, it felt great. That sense of accomplishment was back—and not just because I finished, but because I didn’t let a challenge stop me. I forged through, I got out of my comfort zone, and I wrote a book that I’m very excited for you all to see!

So if you’re struggling with something, my advice? Keep going. It’s okay if that first draft isn’t perfect or you wind up trashing the whole thing. Sometimes journeys aren’t all smooth sailing, and that’s okay! Because it can be those detours, layovers and speed bumps that get us exactly where we need to be. 

Airports, Exes, and Other Things I'm Over is now available for preorder!

Author spotlight

Shani Petroff

Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She's the author of the “Bedeviled” series, which includes Daddy’s …

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