One Writer’s Journey

March 15, 2016

Rewriting with an Editor or Agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:17 am
Tags: , , ,

Approve, Reject, Concur, Denounce, Assent, Deny, ChoiceLast weekend, I attended a writing workshop about using Skype and writing nonfiction proposals.  Part of the Skype session included Skyping with an Lori Kilkelly, an agent at Rodeen Literary Management.  She answered a series of questions including how a writer should respond when an editor asks for an impossible change in a rewrite.

Lori explained that we need to take “refuse” out of our writing vocabulary.  Instead of thinking about what you will and will not do, Lori advised writers to think about the project as a collaboration.  The writer and the editor are working together on a single project.  The goal is to make it into a publishable project that will reach as many young readers as possible.

This made a lot of sense to me because I’m always amazed by the number of authors who enter into the submission process looking for a fight.  They are absolutely certain that something unforgivable will be asked of them.

I’ve made hundreds of changes in my work including:

  • Changes designed to bring the book in line with the larger series.
  • Clarifications which often mean adding more detail and expanding on a point.
  • A specific example that the editor had found in her reading and wanted me to include.  Invariable, these additions strengthen the piece.

I can only recall one time when I was asked to make an “impossible change.” Because I generally make the changes my editor wants, she knew this wasn’t just me being disagreeable.  I think that’s an important point.

If a request initially seems impossible, try to figure out why your editor wants you to make the change.  Then find a mutually acceptable way to solve the problem. Your editor is not your enemy so don’t immediately refuse to make a change.

Instead, look for another way to make it so.



  1. […] Advice on rewrites from Lori HERE. […]

    Pingback by Adriana Dominguez & Lori Kilkelly – 12 x 12 Featured Agents May 2016 | 12×12 Challenge — April 28, 2016 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  2. That seems eminently sensible. Thanks for writing on this topic.

    Comment by Brenda Davis Harsham — May 4, 2016 @ 1:02 am | Reply

    • You would be surprised how many people want to go toe-to-toe over every little change. I’m glad you found this helpful.

      Comment by suebe — May 4, 2016 @ 1:50 am | Reply

      • I’m more of the mind that writing can always be improved. It’s inherently imperfect and ambiguous since sounds and letters have infinite capacity for alternate meanings. But that’s the beauty of it, too.

        Comment by Brenda Davis Harsham — May 4, 2016 @ 2:22 am

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