One Writer’s Journey

April 3, 2015

Rewriting: What to do when your editor asks for a rewrite

Rewriting based on feedbackRecently, I had to turn an outline and a sample chapter in to my editor at Red Line.  The good news:  She loved my chapter.  The bad news:  Not so much with the outline.

It wasn’t that she hated it or that she slammed it.  In fact, she gave me a lot of helpful feedback.

But reading that feedback it became obvious that I had not gotten it right.  My first attempt at outlining this book was way off what she wanted.

That’s never a good feeling but it’s an especially bad feeling when step #2 is supposed to be turn in the entire manuscript.  What if my second attempt at organization missed as badly as my first?  Then I’d have 1000s of words to rewrite vs 100s.

What do you do when this happens?  I did what comes natural to me.  I asked questions.  The first was the most important. “If I outline this again, will you take another look at it?”

Not surprisingly, she said yes.  Why isn’t it a surprise?  Because she’s top notch, but she also wants the same thing that I do — an amazing book.  She wants to get it with as little rewriting as possible which means setting me on the right path which is the whole point of turning in the outline.

It took me two full days to rework my outline.  No, an outline shouldn’t necessarily take that long but my second attempt didn’t exactly work.  It wasn’t until that night when my brain wouldn’t go to sleep that a feasible approach came to me.  I got up  and made a few notes.  In the morning, I got back to it and turned in my efforts that afternoon. She still had one big change to recommend but only if we can figure out how to make it work.

Rewriting is, at best, a bit scary.  You spend a lot of time asking yourself “what if I don’t get it right?”  But it is especially scary if you aren’t confident in your understanding of what the editor wants.  My advice?  If you have a working relationship with this editor, ask for clarification and be willing to give it a try.

You may find, like I did, that the rewrite stands head and shoulders above your first attempt.

–SueBE

 

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