To Write or to Edit … That is the Question

Forgive me for taking a break from my own blog. I’ve been away for awhile, now. Since Election Day, 2016, in fact. I wanted this blog to remain a politics-free zone … yet I found myself unable to write without commenting on the swirl of political controversy in which we are all unwillingly immersed. The controversy over Trump’s presidency remains (grows, in fact) … but as that is not the topic of this forum, I will not address it here. (See me on Twitter :-).)

So… . Today I talk about a common dilemma for writers: keep writing the new novel or go back and work on developmental edits on the last novel.

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There are only so many hours in the day, after all. Like so many as-yet-to-be-published writers, I DO have a full time day job. So how does one make the call? Do I call it quits on my first manuscript and chalk it up to a good learning experience or do I keep plugging away? (The phrase “beat a dead horse” comes to mind.)

At the suggestion of my A-MAZ-ING critique partner Deborah Maroulis, I hired the hugely talented and fabulous Michelle Hazen to complete a developmental edit round on my  YA Paranormal MS Shift.

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Michelle and I kicked off with a “pre-project” chat where we talked about the manuscript, and what I thought were its major issues. We decided I would pull out the troublesome “backstory dump” and send that to her separately, along with the full MS. She spent about seven weeks with the piece, during which I plugged away on my current WIP Behind Cellar Doors, which is well underway and picking up steam: 19 chapters/42,000+ words.

Michelle’s comments on Shift arrived in three pieces: a thorough edit letter talking about the project as a whole, the full MS with her comments in bubbles throughout, and a helpful sample of a first chapter as an example of how to launch the story more successfully.

But now I had TWO projects demanding my attention: a much-needed, time-consuming edit of Shift  and a WIP with great momentum.

So here’s what I decided to do: I set aside a few days to review the edit letter and complete a long, full (and at times cringe-y) read-through of Shift, carefully absorbing all of Michelle’s comments. She has a real gift for delivering big change suggestions with a light hand, and helped spot all of Shifts (many) first-time-author flaws. Her feedback is incredible and useful and eye-opening; it was like taking a personalized writing class dedicated to my particular strengths and weaknesses.

After I completed the read-through, I immediately tackled rewriting Chapter 1 of Shift, taking all Michelle’s comments under consideration. Backstory is my nemesis, but I’m learning and refining how to deal with it–parsing it out instead of dumping it. (Ah–those fledgling novelist mistakes we all must make before we improve! ☺). You can see the results of the Chapter 1 rewrite here.

And now that that’s done … Sam and Emily will be put on hiatus for awhile, while I continue to devote my complete attention to Taylor and Alec, the stars of Behind Cellar Doors. With Behind Cellar Doors I made the leap to adult contemporary romance–and it’s a relief to have a main character who is allowed to not only speak with a full vocabulary but also have a sex life. (Whoop whoop!).

Who knew writing YA was so darn difficult? Telling a complex story with a teenage vocabulary and perspective is not easy, my friends.

And the good news? Having gone through the developmental edits feedback process, I am already incorporating all of Michelle’s suggestions into my new story, helping to keep the pacing tighter and the writing leaner.

I highly recommend you take a gander over to Michelle’s blog, which is filled with great posts on writing and editing. (Is it bad I keep re-reading “How to Write Steamy Sexual Tension?”)

Sending a HUGE THANK YOU to Michelle for her great feedback. If you’re looking for an editor for your work, I highly recommend her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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