Answering YOUR Questions About In-House Edits (Part 1)

As most of you know, I'm working furiously at completing in-house edits on my first book, The Preacher's Bride. Last week I shared the nitty-gritty of my rewrite process. (Click here if you missed the post.) This week I'd like to answer some of your very thought-provoking questions!

Katie Ganshert & Cindy Wilson asked: How much guidance do editors give you in the rewrites? Do they give very specific feedback or is it more general?

Before answering this question, I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate Katie on her recent offer of representation by Rachelle Gardner! Congrats again, Katie! Way to go!

My editors have given both specific and general feedback. For example, they've specifically asked me to change my hero's last name, delete a past occurrence I'd used to intertwine my characters, cut a particular kissing scene, and more.

Most of their requests, however, are general like change the ending, switch hero's character arc, or add more emotional elements to the romance. With each of the general changes, my editor gave me suggestions for how I might rework the areas--especially during our first long phone call.

Later, after I'd finished laying out my scene-by-scene spreadsheet with my notes, I called my editor and shared my new ideas. I wanted to get her confirmation before I began. She liked them, gave me a few more helpful suggestions, and told me to call her any time I wanted more input or help.

Ultimately Bethany House trusts my creativity to reshape the areas of my book that need it. They've pointed out what they want changed, but aren't micro-managing how I change them.

Patricia Woodside asked: How are you capturing/organizing the deleted passages for easy, later reference?

Initially, I read and edit my completed work in hard copy. I mark it up with a red pen. If I need to move a section to a different chapter, I red-line it and make a note of where it needs to go, both on my hard copy and my spread sheet. If I need to delete, I mark that too. Then I refer back to both as I work through my book.

Before starting the rewrites of a chapter, I copy/paste the chapter into new Word document. With my marked up hard copy and printed spread sheet in front of me, I go through the chapter line by line in my Word document, deleting what I don't need, pasting from other areas, or in some cases adding completely new information. When I'm done with the revised version of the chapter, I paste it back into the full document.

So, in answer to the question, I don't specifically save deleted sections. By the time I pick apart what I need from that scene or paragraph, I usually don't need what's left.

Karen Peterson asked: Are you excited about the changes? Or do you feel like your entire original story has been rewritten?

I'm amazed at how my creativity can still jump into high gear even during rewrites. One new idea leads to another, and yet somehow all of the changes still fit within the original plot and story. The rewrites have forced me to dig deeper into the story that's already there to bring out the rich treasures waiting under the surface. So, I would say it's still very much the original story, just richer.

Tamika asked: How is this stage of your writing different from the first draft?

I don't do rewrites with my first draft. I'm definitely a plotter (not a pantser!). After weeks of researching and plotting, I have a very sturdy structure to build upon when I start the writing. Of course, I always leave room in my plotting for those wonderful twists and turns the story brings. But overall, I have a blueprint for my story and stick to it.

Therefore, my first draft editing consists primarily of line-editing--combing through my manuscript, adding sensory details, correcting awkward sentences, etc. My current in-house edits are giving me my first real experience doing major renovations.

Thanks for the questions! Now I'd love to hear how you edit! Do you have to make major rewrites after your first draft? Or do you mostly have line-editing? I personally would rather get my story mostly right the first time through, rather than have to go back and try to make it flow. What about you?

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