a time to write; a time to edit

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I am in the process of editing my soon-to-be-published chick-lit novel, Planet of the Flakes, a story about a type-A young woman whose life plan is veering way off track thanks to the flake-invested pool of singletons she finds herself swimming in after ending a nine-year relationship with her high school sweetheart.

Let me tell you something about editing, for those of you who are not writers – it’s not an easy thing to do and I don’t just mean the physical act of editing. I mean, from a emotional standpoint, it can be difficult. When I finished my first draft of Planet of the Flakes, I did about three rounds of revisions on my own – without an editor. I do not consider description a strength of mine and so my first round of edits involved fleshing out scenery, what my characters look like and are wearing, their bodily gestures and so forth. The second round of edits involved me reading the book out loud and changing any sentences or phrases that sounded awkward. When I was comfortable that the book was as good as it could be without the help of a professional editor, I enlisted the help of a “book doctor” (fellow author Diana Spechler) to give the manuscript a thorough critique. Based on Diana’s comments, I began yet another one or two rounds of edits. These included developing secondary characters, upping the tension where necessary, clearing up ambiguity etc. and I even changed the ending. It wasn’t until I was satisfied with the changes that I even began the submission process to publishers. Enter: publishing contract. Yay!!

You would think after so much hard work and a well-deserved publishing contract, the novel would be in turn-key condition, right? Wrong. It was time to work with yet another editor who would provide her own set of comments, both substantive and “cosmetic” (grammar, punctuation). I braced myself for her feedback and willed myself not to let my ego get in the way, knowing that my editor and I would have a common goal: to make Planet of the Flakes as good as possible. It also comforted me to know that as author of the book, I was free to accept or reject the changes as I saw fit. With one published novel already under my belt, I was confident that my instincts were good and that I’d be able to let go of my pride enough to recognize which of the suggested changes would truly strengthen the novel and which would not.

Let’s not get carried away though – I was still terrified!

When I received my editor’s initial email, I was extremely excited as we appeared to be on the same page. She had no desire for me to do any major rewrites and, in fact, truly loved the book, but she had some suggestions for strengthening the novel which is exactly what I hoped to do in the editing process. I was especially pleased because she loved the ending of the book (she called it “golden”) and I had been concerned that she would want me to change it.

For the past few weeks, I have been busy working on the edits. I did a lot during my lunch hours but I knew if I continued at that rate, it would delay publication and so I locked myself in my apartment this past Saturday, determined to finish the first round before I went to bed that night. The plan was to get up early, go for a quick run and get started by about 2pm. Instead, I slept until 11 (much needed after a full, long week at my day job), ran 9 miles and spent 1.5 hours at the pool on the roof of my apartment building. I didn’t get started until 4:30pm! When I finally finished, it was almost midnight and I celebrated with a cold beer – Blue Moon. It was delicious!

I wound up agreeing to most of my editor’s suggestions and in total, added about ten pages to the manuscript as a result of a few added scenes and some more dialogue in certain areas. There were a couple of things on which we disagreed and I stood my ground – respectfully of course. And I provided a reason why I was unwilling to make those changes. I sent the revised manuscript to my editor on Sunday and now await her comments. I’m hoping there are not too many rounds back and forth because I REALLY look forward to the publication of Planet of the Flakes. I absolutely love this book and hope you will too!


  1. Natalie on June 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Great post, Meredith! You summed up my editing experience perfectly. It can be hard to let go but it’s always good to get an outside opinion. I can’t wait to read “Planet of the Flakes” – it sounds like it’s right up my alley.

    P.S. Celebrating a day of edits with a cold beer is a brilliant idea!

    • Meredith on June 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Thanks for the comment, Natalie! I would imagine most authors feel like we do about editing. Glad you’re excited to read POTF!!

  2. Kwana on June 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for this. I just got my edits back on my first contracted novel and I’m so scared. This helped.

    • Meredith on June 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Hi Kwana – I’m glad I could help. Congrats on your contract!!

  3. Jeff Salter on June 20, 2012 at 9:55 am

    First of all, I think your title is terrific.
    Secondly, it sounds like you and I ‘work’ rather alike … in the way we approach revisions. Though, sometimes in a given run-thru, I’ll identify things that it needs and will go off on that tangent until I finish them. Other times, I’ll leave a HOLE — prominently marked, of course — like “go back and sync this recollection to what the character said earlier & remove the repetition”. But in those situations, I don’t want to interrupt the flow of what I’m working on to correct that right then.
    Know what I mean?
    BTW, I love having an editor with a deft touch who does not demand that I dump characters, add scenes that she might have written (if it were here story), switch genre, etc. I had a great editor and hope to get her again.

    • Meredith on June 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

      I’m glad you liked your editor, Jeff. So far, I really like mine as well. She has her opinions, but is also very open to leaving things the way I prefer. And she’s a grammar nerd so hopefully the grammar will be flawless!

  4. Marj on June 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I agree with Jeff (^)about the title, but you already knew that. You also know how excited I am to read the edited version, as it’s hard to believe it could be any better than the original, which I loved!! I am so happy for you, and your success is well deserved!!!

    • Meredith on June 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

      I can’t wait for you to read the finalized version. No worries – nothing substantial was changed – at least so far. It was just improved upon 🙂

  5. jen on June 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I can’t wait to read your new book! I enjoyed your first book so much! Hopefully you can come back to our book club in Philly and chat about it!

    • Meredith on June 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks so much Jen! I’m so glad you liked my first book and I would love to come back to Philly to chat with your book club once Planet of the Flakes comes out. I already told Sharon I was game if you guys wanted me. I had so much fun last month.

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