The Edit That May Kill You – and Why to Soldier On

I’m writing a women’s fiction. Again. I’m glad I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve rewritten this one and I’m not looking it up. because I’m not a masochist.

I wrote it the first time. I loved it. My agent loved it. Editors? They loved the story and the secondary character, but not so much the protagonist. I edited and sent it to beta readers. My brilliant friends, Orly Konig and Lainey Cameron both told me the same thing, and finally, it sunk in.

All I had to do was strip out the protagonist, put in a new one, start in a different place, then make that work within the framework of the story, keeping the tight timeline and all the details congruent.

No problem, right?

I’ve got 12 books in print, almost all are NY pubbed. Still, I’ve NEVER had an edit this hard. I’m 60k into it, and I’m lost in details and quicksand, and am still not sure if it’s better than the first version.

*cue the scary music*

And all of the above.

But I  will not quit.

She says over and over to herself while banging her head on the keyboard – which, at this point, may actually help.

Why won’t I quit? Why shouldn’t you quit if you find yourself here?

  • You had something to say – remember back, to that first spark of an idea? You wanted to explore some aspect of being human, in a way only you can. It’s still there.
  • You’re in love with the characters – They are now real people to you by now. Quitting would be tantamount to killing them. Frankly, I have enough guilt on my shoulders. I’m not adding murder to the list.
  • You have no life – even if we weren’t in a pandemic (but we so ARE), you’ve carved out time in your life for writing. What what would you replace writing with? Underwater basket-weaving?
  • You can’t NOT – if you’ve written long enough to publish, you’re hooked. Might as well admit it, this is a disease for which there is no cure.
  • You have to know what happens

And finally, because you’re dying for readers to fall in love with the secondary character everyone who’s read the book loves.

Have you ever had a brutal edit? What helped you survive it?

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