Diet Coke & Nerves

Hi! Sorry for the blog silence. Things were crazy-busy last week.

I didn’t know much about how edits worked before I tackled mine, so I thought I’d share what my experience has been like so far.

My publishing timeline:

Feb 23: book deal!
March 14: book deal announced, edit letter received
March 15-April 1: chatted with Amazing Editor Ari, brainstormed, created new timeline
April 1-May 15: work on first edits. Ta-DA! First deadline complete! Brief respite to catch up on Doctor Who.
May 16 at noon to May 19 at 9 am: 2nd edits + line edits
May 19 at 6 pm, after tweaks are made & ms is finished-for-now: SLEEEEEP

From what I understand, this timeline is very fast and unusually intense. But I am grateful for all the enthusiasm Putnam is showing for BORN WICKED.  The reason we moved so quickly through edits is because there’s a sales dinner this week at BEA and they wanted to distribute a dozen bound copies. So exciting! All the stress will be totally worth it if my book ends up in Target, right?

Really, it’s already worth it. I’m so proud of this revision. I’ve never worked harder on anything ever, and I think I have a much better book to show for it. Here are some examples of things we worked on:

first edit letter: completely rewriting the last 30 pages or so; changing information that Cate discovers and when she discovers it and how (this is so huge, but I can’t say more for fear of spoilers); adding a new beginning and several new scenes in the middle, including Sunday school scenes and a scene at the dressmaker’s; making both boys sexier; explaining the world & rules for girls in it more thoroughly; giving one of Cate’s sisters a romance of sorts; delving deeper into characters so they’re all fully-developed people in their own right, not just Cate’s sisters/nemesis/boys

second edits + line edits: making sure Cate’s emotional arc & decision-making were consistent, which meant rewriting several conversations almost entirely; cutting one scene from the middle; adding another scene at the end; changing a minor character’s family situation that just didn’t ring true; giving a key reveal more of an impact; adding more of Cate’s thoughts/reactions; realizing I’d made her stomach drop/turn so many times my editor joked that she might have IBS; adding in more detail about what the rooms look like and what dresses look like; adding more gestures and facial expressions; realizing which gestures/facial expressions have become crutches & trying to dream up new ones; bemoaning that omg I am plumb out of facial expressions and I don’t know what people to do with their hands anymore

I pulled my first-ever all-nighter last week (and I am a girl who loves her sleep) to finish line edits. I sprained my hand from all the typing because I didn’t take breaks the way I should have. I was surviving largely on Diet Coke and nerves. But even when I was super-mega-stressed, I kept remembering that I was doing something I loved, and I wanted to do it well.

Now I’m supposed to take a week off. Then we have one more round of edits before heading into copyedits in mid-June.

Any questions about how edits work? I’m not sure how much of this is interesting!

8 Responses

  1. I can totally relate to your comments on writing and editing with intense pressure and a looming deadline. We likened preparing a thesis show to giving birth – art babies, that is. We survived on the 3 Cs – carbs, caffeine and chocolate! One friend had an intense additiction to Diet Pepsi. I lost count of the all-nighters and I, too, am a girl who NEEDS sleep. But it's hard to count when you never sleep at night and only sleep for 3 hours at a time! I'm so happy for you and all you've accomplished, can't WAIT to read the book!!!

    1. Thank you, Alissa! I'm super proud of you too! *hugs* I think all the stress is worth it when you can get a little distance and look objectively at what you've created and be proud of it.

  2. Wow, that looks strenuous – it's like having finals all over again. I'm exhausted just after reading this post!

    But congratulations! This is certainly something to be proud of. Even if I feel like a complete slacker by comparison, now. 🙂

  3. I find this all very interesting because I'll be knee deep in similar stuff within a month or two. So neat to hear about your timeline, although I can't say I envy that May 16-19 stretch 😉

    1. Thanks, Erin! Always feel free to ask any questions. I would've been lost without my already-pubbed CPJackie & the Apocalypsies boards. Even though it seems like no two timelines or experiences are the same, somehow knowing that other writers are going thru similar things is immensely reassuring!

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