Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Crossroads

Posted: March 28, 2022 in writing
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I find myself at a crossroads with my writing. Three options, three projects lay before me. Likely, I will eventually pursue all three, but each are deep and labor-intensive. I need to decide where to allocate my energy. I need to determine priority and select a focus.

The Not-Done Novel

After Followers, I quickly completed a new novel. And, for the first time, the story was not in the horror genre. Problematically, that left me completely disorientated on genre.

I drafted the book, revised it, worked it through beta readers, polished it. Then I decided it would be the first book I would query to agents to get published.

I got rejected by 50 agents. (Ouch.)

Clearly, something was wrong with the submission–either the query or the story, or both.

I decided the best way to troubleshoot would be to engage an editor, which, in hindsight, I honestly should have done before querying. I have worked with editors during the publication of all of my previous novels. However, this was my first editing experience pre-publishing contract.

The editor’s decimated the book I thought I was complete (a whole other post on that). To summarize: rewrite. Now, I am left with substantial substantive changes to make.

These proposed modifications present me with the opportunity to return to the world I built and the characters I created. I loved living in them during the initial creation and edits. I could break apart my story and puzzle the pieces into a new configuration. While daunting, I am inspired and challenged by some of these possibilities.

Ideas are perculating.

The Therapy Project

Last NaNoWriMo, I ventured into fan fiction to resuscitate my love for writing. I was able to locate my spark and also complete a short novel in the Scream universe.

The story remains where I left it after the sprinting first draft, so it is still quite raw. But now, what to do with it?

There will never be any formal publication. Do I let it wither and die in a file in some subfolder on my hard drive? Do I give it a polish and post it in serials on my blog?

My inclination is, of course, to release it. To do so, I would need time to clean it up and prepare it, especially through the lens of the latest chapter in the movie franchise. I also would love to have some art to post with it.

The Shiny New Toy

Shiny! So shiny. The new project is usually the most seductive and compelling.

I wrote about Scream in November to loosen my inspiration after all the rejection of my new novel (and life drama). It worked, and a new story idea surfaced between my lumpy grey lobes.

I have been massaging this story slowly over the past few months. Outlining and throwing down words when I feel like it. No pressure compared to how I usually work.

The story is not pouring out of me like some are want to do (Savages, “Freaks”, some of The Rest Will Come, “Malignant”, “Santa’s Workshop”…). However, it does take shape and flow nicely once I hit my stride. I am straddling between a planned outline and winging it. I know where I want to go, and the details are sharpening as I meander through the scenes.

I am allowing myself to establish the foundation in a broad stroke before painting in the finer points. This is how it always works, yet I am being more deliberate about skimming through the first pass this time, getting the basics established to build on. We will see how the strategy plays out.

The writing has been no pressure and pleasant. I enjoy building the world and forming the characters. Writing fresh is always my favorite part of the process. Obviously, this is the most appealing option, so equally obviously, it is the one least advantageous to pursue first.

The Direction

So which way to go? The arduous journey of reworking an entire book? The stalling edit that would yield a series of blog posts? The fresh and new story just getting started?

My heart, speaking based on what I enjoy the most, would say 1. new story, 2. fan fiction posts, 3. novel rewrite. However, my brain, considering what would be smartest and most productive or advantageous would say the complete opposite.

I think I have settled on the following (tentative) plan as a compromise, favoring the pragmatic brain:

  • Get to the next milestone in the new story
  • Outline the restructure of the rewrite novel
  • Restructure the rewrite novel and write new scenes
  • While rewrite novel cools, edit fan fiction novel
  • Post fan fiction novel
  • Edit rewrite novel
  • Return to new story

I get a little of everything I want and continue moving forward. Will it work? Maybe. Will I stick to the plan? Maybe not. But it is worth a try. It is better to have three options than none.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

On Being Edited

Posted: March 9, 2022 in writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

So after Followers and during a pandemic, I wrote another novel. Spawned from a blend of world events and inspiration from random history articles, this story took me out of the horror genre for the first time since I started publishing my work. This story also flowed out of me like Savages, and I felt very strong about it. When I started editing and reworking it, I didn’t change much.

Insert red flag.

Then, when I thought it was ready, it got universally rejected. I know every parent thinks their baby is adorable, but even I could understand that this meant something was wrong with my creation. So, for the first time, I turned to an independent editor outside a publishing house.

I have worked with editors before (on all my published works), and I always use beta readers in my drafting process. Yet this is the first time I have interacted with the editor prior to the submission acceptance and outside the publishing process. Call it a new author experience for me. My authoring career is evolving, and I can hitch this on to the dreadful agent querying process.

My book clearly needed help, so I asked around and got recommendations for an independent editor. I sent her my raw, trembling, little baby, and she (and an associate) went through it before providing me an editorial letter of feedback. Standard process, as I understand it.

OUCH!

It is what I asked for. It is what I needed. But damn, it stung.

With my previous books and stories and my other editors, we have worked my pieces over very collaboratively. However, they have never ripped any apart or suggested severe rewrites. In short, I have been spoiled. I have been pushing my boulders up gentle hills and have just now encountered my first mountain.

Currently, I am in the “processing the feedback” stage. I have the editorial letter, and I am digesting the many ideas therein. Next, I will meet with the editor(s) to discuss and brainstorm. Then the fork in the road–what to do? I will need to decide whether to pursue the story, and if I do, I determine what changes to make to it.

Insert heavy sigh weighed down by how daunting this all seems. Didn’t I just finish this book?

My initial emotional reaction was, with so much feedback, was there was anything redemptive in my book? If the plot and the characters and the names and everything need to change, is the story even worth salvaging? Is it really only the idea that survives? Honestly, these insecure pangs still nibble at the back of my brain as I mull it over.

As I am processing the ideas and they are cooling, the sharp edges are blunting. The looming shadows are scaling down so they no longer blot out the sun and I can see over them. Critiques are gradually reshaping into possibilities. If I can remain pragmatic, I can use this arrangement as intended to improve and evolve my story, to level it up into something an agent will accept.

This is not my first critique and far from my most brutal. This is not new territory. However, I feel like I have been coasting for a while, sneaking by in a sweet spot that did not force me to confront my shortcomings.

As I type this, I know that is what I need to do and also what I will end up doing. My feelings have just not caught up yet. My emotions are wounded and tangled on any part that hurts. Based on rejection on so many other fronts, this just seems to deepen the wound. My brain seeks out the confirmation for the pain. As I work my way through it with this words, I see that what I feel isn’t even really about the book or the editorial feedback.

I had finally pulled myself out of a writing slump and dumped myself into a new story. This has knocked me out of that groove. This has me questioning my writing, my quality.

Unfounded, I know. This is part of it, I know. But feelings are feelings.

I need to remember that I do not always need to be accomplishing something. I can rewrite my novel at my leisure. There is no deadline. I can return to my new WIP whenever I want. It is not going anywhere. It is OK to take the time and take the breaks. It is better to get it right and make it better. I do not understand my own urgency, but I need to undo it.

Deep breath… Next step…

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Editing, otherwise known as writer hell. Yes, I have to hide in a hotel mere miles from my house. But with how much I miss work travel right now, this might be like a vacation. Plus, I would do literally anything that does not involve homeschooling right now!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling