There have been times when I’ve rewritten an entire book from front to back. After going through that with two separate books, I vowed never to do that again and started plotting out all my books in advance. I’ve had huge success with this change as well as revising as I draft. Very rarely now days will I have to rewrite scenes during edits or cut chapters out, but Her Fallen Protector (Entangled Publishing, 2015) went through the wringer.
But with every release, I learn something new, and it was with this book, I learned things that completely changed the course of my career. So here are the elements I had to edit out or revise before release day:
Not everyone enjoys torture scenes like I do. I’m not sick in the head. I promise. But, man, do I like to torture my characters. And not just emotionally. I have a torture scene in Let Me Out (Beyond the Page Publishing, 2013), one in White Trash Beautiful (Evernight Publishing, 2012), as well as an upcoming romantic thriller. But I realized (after some pushing from my editor) that those scenes can be triggers for readers, especially in a romance. So an original scene, which included torturing my character Rachel in order to get Vdarra to cooperate with the demons, was cut from the manuscript.
In one of the very first drafts of Her Fallen Protector, Jacob fought half the book thinking Vdarra was an imposter for his mate. He didn’t believe his mate had been resurrected, and this woman just happened to look like her. However, the demons did think she’d been resurrected, and he couldn’t just let them harm a mortal. He had to protect her, but he wouldn’t let her get the best of him. But with my last pass through the book, I thought to myself, “This is just stupid. He’d recognize her instantly, even if he didn’t want to see the truth.” So during my last revisions on the book, I made him wonder if she was pretending not to know him because of what he did to her.
A character I deleted, Rachel, was a single mother of three whose husband died in Afghanistan. Not anymore. Something along the lines of torturing a single mother of three. And you know what, this was the best suggestion I could get from my editor because I had no idea how the kids would fit into the book. I never write about kids. Ever. And when it came to investigating Rachel’s murder in the second book (coming soon!), I still didn’t know how they were going to fit into the plot line. Now Rachel is gone and I think we can all agree that’s for the best.
Vdarra had a best friend named Vin (inspired by Vin Diesel) who worked as a mechanic and security for her repo business. Vin had to go. First off, his name started with a “V” and I really only reserve that for my heroine’s names in this series. Second, when I looked at the book as a whole, he really didn’t have a point. So this character later turned into Sorren. I already had Sorren playing a huge role at the end of the book. Why couldn’t he be introduced sooner and be the one charged with watching over Vdarra until her memories came back?
Vdarra was originally held captive for a week instead of one day. By Damien, Isabel, AND Jacob. There was an escape attempt scene and Jacob going out to get her hamburgers. She thought about starving herself in an attempt to move the interrogations along and two chapters whole of seeing Jacob as nothing but a captor. All gone. When it came right down to it, I needed to show Vdarra falling in love with Jacob and not in a captor/captive relationship. So he became a victim. This was the hardest of my revisions. I cut a six chapters into a little more than three chapters and nearly cried when my word count dipped significantly. I did it again in the second round of revisions. Taking those three chapters down to two and revising to make sure Vdarra knew Jacob wasn’t there to hurt her. Luckily, my awesome editor made suggestions on what to expand later in the manuscript, and she helped make Her Fallen Protector a stronger romance.
Chapter One? Gone. In my original chapter, Vdarra is repoing a car from a woman named Ms. Daws. That woman nearly knocks Vdarra unconscious with a tire iron and Jacob rushes in to help. They have coffee. Isabel makes an appearance and Vdarra swears she’s met Jacob before. A little bit of that feeling made it into the new Chapter One. Much better fit there. Ms. Daws is gone too. Two characters cut.
These are the major changes I’ve had to make to Her Fallen Protector over the last couple years. The book has been through many edits and revisions and with each pass grew stronger. I can’t thank the wonderful people who helped make this book what it is today enough. Siobhan Muir for critiquing, her husband for helping me plot, Candace Havens and Allison Collins as my editors (who are patient beyond belief with me) and, of course, my readers.
Thank you for your support.
Would you have picked up the book if these changes had stayed in the manuscript?