Truest: An Editing Timeline

A lot a lot a LOT of work goes into writing a novel. Here’s what went into the writing of Truest, my debut novel. Please note that when I say “editing” or “revising,” I am not referring to correcting grammar and typos but rather things like adding storylines, beefing up characters, changing the structure of the novel, writing new scenes, etc.

Broken pencil fragments on yellow paper
January-June 2012:
first draft
June-December 2012: self-edits, assisted by my local writing group
December 2012: hired a local editor to do developmental edits
January-March 2013: frantic revisions/re-structuring* based on editor’s feedback
March 2013: attended Big Sur Writing Workshop for additional editing help
March-April 2013: more editing based on Big Sur feedback
April 2013: hired local editor again for line edits
April-July 2013: line editing
July 2013: signed with a literary agent and made major (and difficult) revisions based on my agent’s feedback
November 2013: literary agent sold my book to Harper
February-September 2014: re-structuring* and MAJOR, MAJOR revisions based on my editor’s feedback

After this will come copyediting. 🙂

And, let me tell you, it was all worth it. I love the characters and the story and the plot so much more than I could have ever imagined back when the idea first was born.

*The original draft had a chronological timeline. The local editor suggested I change it to a back-and-forth past-and-present timeline; I had six weeks to completely re-structure it before Big Sur. Then, later, my HarperCollins editor asked me to change it back to chronological order. She also gave me six weeks for the re-structuring.

An Author is not an Island

As regular blog readers know, I just recently signed my first book contract with HarperCollins Publishers!  I have a few people I need to thank for getting me there:

My writing group: Anna, Carra, Jaidyn, Addie, Rachel L, and Rachel R.  These ladies amaze me with their talent for writing and critiquing.

My beta readers: Melody, Brienna, Mary, Elyse, Stacey, Ashley, Cindy*, and Kristin L**, Megs, Tracy, Kristin R.

My cheerleaders: Des, Eir, and so many others.

* Cindy was also my go-to girl for basically every deep conversation I need to have regarding my characters, their actions, and their struggles.

** I credit Kristin with saving Truest twice.  She was the one who spotted the plot’s earliest flaws and helped me to fix them.  She also helped me figure out the conclusion when I was too deep in the story’s darkness to see any light.

Ben Barnhart helped me with both high-level, conceptual edits as well as line edits.  His suggestions added depth, nuance, and conflict to my story, and I’m terribly grateful.

The Big Sur Writing Workshop was an amazing experience where I read and revised Truest as well as interacted with authors, editors, and literary agents all in the children’s and YA literature industry.  I absolutely recommend it to serious YA authors who have a late-stage manuscript they’d like additional help with.

Steven Chudney, my agent, challenged me with some of the hardest revisions I have ever undertaken– and I was delighted with the results.

And now, Jill and Laurel from Katherine Tegen Books are taking me to the next level!

RevisionsAs you can see, I am the author, but I don’t work alone.  Iron truly sharpens iron, and if people end up enjoying Truest, it will be because of so many men and women who would never let me settle with mediocrity.

This, friends– this is why it shocks me when I hear young writers say that they either a) don’t feel comfortable showing other people their work or b) that they don’t think they can learn to be a better writer.  If you want to be a writer, you have to write.  If you want to be a great writer, you need help.

Or at least I do. 🙂