Swoon Author's L.E. Delano's Editing Update: Getting Real about Edit Letters
Once Upon A Time, I had a book. And then I had a book deal. I wrote the book, they liked the book, they bought the book, and we all lived happily ever after.
Until I got the edit letter.
The edit letter is the first part of the editing process,
and it addresses various plot points, sub-plots, and continuity challenges that
have been presented in the book.
My editors (armed with feedback from my beta readers) pointed out all the good stuff in the original story that worked and some stuff that just plain didn’t. And some of what didn’t was major, in terms of plot and where I saw this story going.
To begin with, Traveler was set to be book one of a trilogy – a trilogy that I had mapped out in my head as having a definite A-B-C sort of plot progression. Swoon decided to buy the story as a duology, trying to escape some of the “trilogy fatigue” they felt was plaguing the market at the time.
Okay, I can work with that. Maybe I’m even a little grateful for it! Traveler was written, but the sequels were still just pieces of scenes and outlines, which could certainly be condensed and I’d be agonizing over 75-80,000 words instead of 150,000+.
Then it was decided in our early talks that one key plot point – a certain character having the ability to time travel – didn’t really add much to the story and complicated it unnecessarily. That one took a little wind out of my sails, to be honest. While it’s true his ability didn’t do much in book one, it was going to be front and center for the entirety of book two and a good portion of book three as I’d originally envisioned it.
So I took a good hard look at my story and I realized . . . my editors were right. And the character actually got more interesting without that to lean on. Slice! Sub-plot gone!
My editors didn’t like my ending. I’m not talking the ending of Traveler (which, if I do say so myself, has the plot twist ending to end all plot twist endings), but the ending of the entire story arc. The big BIG ending to the whole series.
Well. . .damn.
And once again they were right. This is why they’re so good at what they do. Luckily, I had a different ending in an earlier draft that they loved and fit much better with the new direction of the overall story, especially as it was shaping up after the revisions.
Yay! Now I could move forward, excited about this great new story that’s growing out of the former story, and it was all terrific!
And that’s when the work really began. A first revision. A second. Another plot change that I wasn’t crazy about at first but went with because the beta readers seemed to agree (and I’m glad I did – they were right). One more plot change when two editors wanted the book to end two different ways and I made the final call. I lost some things, sure. But I gained so much more on this path to a good, cohesive, exciting and adventurous book.
And along the way, I fell even more deeply in love with these characters. I crawled inside their skin and wallowed in their feels. I cried with them, laughed with them (oh, did I laugh) and when Finn’s lips met Jessa’s I felt the blazing heat radiate off the page.
The book is done, and I’m now in the middle of edits for
book two, and I have learned so much – not just about good writing and good
editing, but about myself as a writer. I may beat my head on the keyboard, I may
stare at the wall with bleary eyes as I battle writer’s block, I may wake in
the night haunted by my characters, but in the end, it’ll all come through. I
have faith in myself, and faith in my editors, and faith that this book is now
the best book it could be.
I have a couple of books in the pipeline after this that I’m pecking at here and there around my current editing. I’m not sure where they’ll take me, but like pirate Finn, I’m ready for the adventure!