Posts Tagged ‘wip’

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.


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

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

Holy hell, November is over. Wasn’t it just Halloween? Wait, wasn’t it just summer? Or last November? I’m still in some sort of pandemic time warp where time simultaneously flies by yet drags on. How can it be both?

This year, I arrived at November beaten and bruised (mostly psychologically). I decided that November needed to be a self-care month. Part of my anguish centered around my writing career. I was struggling with finding my passion buried under marketing and promoting and querying and the general business of being a writer. I determined I would participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – a challenge to write 50,000 words in November) for the second time. However, I would use it differently this year.

For my inaugural year of NaNoWriMo, I used last November to complete my WIP novel, Green Eyes. The goal and accountability kept me very motivated and on track, and I did finish the draft of my book. That book now stresses me out as I attempt to query it to agents.

This year, the prospect of what happens after the writing had been weighing on me. Editing and submitting and publishing and promoting and selling. I wanted to get back to the writing, so I targeted NaNoWriMo to just be about the writing. Inspiration handed me the solution. I had my very first idea for a fan fiction piece.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit since the characters are copyrighted. I would never have to worry about submitting or querying it for publication and release. I could write in my little sandbox, and it never needed to go farther than that. I supposed that could be true about any piece, yet with fan fiction, I would never be able to talk myself into more.

So I wrote 50,000 words just to write 50,000 words. I wrote fan fiction just to play and try it out. It was fun. It was liberating. It was no pressure. I even learned some things. In short, it served the purpose I wanted.

For my project, I decided to write within the Scream universe. It seemed fitting to dabble in fan fiction there since it was my first horror movie, where my love affair began.

My story is basically the first movie but centered on Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. It also includes some before the events of the movie and some after. Spoiler alert: Billy and Stu are the killers, so the story details how they decided to start killing people, how they selected their victims, how they constructed their plan, the logistics of how the pulled off the events of the film, and what I think happened after the credits.

To accomplish this story, I wanted to remain loyal to Scream, merely augment it with additional perspectives, give it more depth and explanation. To do this, I watched Scream probably ten times in stuttering 2-5 minute increments.

Then I also found the movie script online to lift necessary dialog. This was a true learning experience. I am not familiar with script writing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or read a real script. I am, however, pretty familiar with the film, so it was a trip to see it captured on the page. Where the actors adlibbed or followed the lines. How much is scripted versus directed. These are things I never knew or appreciated.

So I spent the month just writing and living inside one of my favorite movies.

Is it any good? I have no idea. No one has read it yet, including me. What will I do with it? I honestly have no idea. Perhaps I wrote it just for me. Maybe it was just a writing exercise to get my creative juices flowing and my passion rekindled. Or perhaps I will put it out on this blog for free, which is about all I can do with fan fiction.

What do you think? What should become of my little pet project?

While I was not as successful on the rest of self-care November, my NaNoWriMo project did the job. I feel refreshed to approach Green Eyes again. I also have a new original novel idea. Then I have five existing books out there to sell!

Christina Bergling