Every year, so many people out there make it a resolution to write a novel. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? You just have to have a plot line, a few characters, set backs, and ta da! You’re finished. Not quite. At least not for a romance author and definitely not me. First off, it takes me about nine months to draft a full length novel and that’s writing every day with nothing else to do for the two hours my kid is taking his nap. But today, I’m going into where the real writing happens: edits and revisions.
Earlier in the year, I wrote a blog post for the Entangled Publishing blog titled “Behind the Book with Nichole Severn.” It covered the basics of Her Fallen Protector’s journey from draft to release, but there was so much I hadn’t put into that timeline.
Well, today you get a behind the scenes look at what really goes into writing the romance novel and why it took so long for my editor and I to get this book ready for release.
Round One of Edits
At first, a large part of my novel was my heroine in captivity. This element spanned about eight chapters all together. The hero and heroine were getting to know each other, her captors were experimenting on her, oh, and my hero was in on the entire thing.
My editor wanted me to cram all of my heroine’s captivity into a couple chapters, if not less. Yeah…that cut about half my book down. I didn’t understand how I could possibly do this with so much happening in those chapters and add the following changes on top of that:
- Cut a character completely
- Increase the romance overall so book has an 80% romance with 20% paranormal element
- Make the hero more alpha
- Give the hero more motivation for his actions
- Make the heroine more demanding in the answers she wants
- Make the sex scenes more emotional rather than mechanical
Suffice it to say, I was overwhelmed despite my editor telling me over and over the changes were minor. I’d never had these kinds of edits before with small publishers, but I’d officially moved into the big leagues and I wouldn’t give up.
Round Two of Edits
By round two of edits, I felt as though I’d rewritten the entire book. In essence, I had. I’d cut down so much already, going from 8 chapters of my heroine’s captivity to three chapters, but still she wanted more.
The hardest part of round two edits, however, was my editor pointing out that she hated my hero! In my original draft, he’d become such a pushover because demons were controlling him with the heroine in their grasp, but my editor made a really good point.
She boiled the relationship between my hero and down to this:
As it stands now, here’s how the relationship is between Vdarra and Jacob. They meet in NY, she’s attracted to him. They meet again in Rio, do the deed, he leaves. She can’t stop thinking about him. Then she’s kidnapped by the demons, finds Jacob there, but he’s not helping her escape. If I were her, and the guy I was attracted to was there letting these demons hold me prisoner in a stinky cell, handcuffed to a stripper pole, filthy clothes, no food, no bathroom…well, I’d want to kill him, not kiss him.
Well, she was right. The romance portion of the book sucked and my hero was a pansy.
Other recommendations include:
- Studying telling vs. showing and incorporate showing into the ms
- Using pronouns instead of proper names
- Steering clear of using formal voice
- Cutting out that character I hadn’t cut out during the last round of edits
- Cutting back on five senses
- Changing my hero’s role entirely to make him a captive instead of a kidnapper
Now you see what I mean by the real writing happening during revisions and edits. By this time I’m wondering what the heck Entangled saw in this manuscript.
Round Three of Edits
This round is where the real magic happened and I started visualizing my book actually getting closer to release date. Keep in mind, we started edits on this book March 2014, and by this time it’d been 10 months since round one.
I was at an ultimate low, asking myself if I wanted to keep writing, if I’d ever finish this book, if I could just take a break. But I had deadlines and my editor had started getting impatient. I couldn’t blame her. I was in her shoes too. Each round was taking a toll and I wasn’t getting anything else done. No drafting another book. No hanging out with friends or spending time with my family. I just wanted this book done.
But round three paid off.
During this round, my editor and I:
- Cut the original Chapter One completely
- Cut that character I’d been fighting for so long, as well as a character from the original Chapter One
- Toned down the disgusting factor in some scenes (mold, blood, etc.)
- Lightened my hero up from his intense, guilt-ridden personality.
As you can see, these changes weren’t major like the first two rounds of edits even though we ended up cutting two characters and a whole chapter. Here, I started to see the book come together and all that hard work and stress making an impression.
Still, the questions I’d been asking myself after chapter two didn’t relent. After handing in this last round of content edits, I ended up taking two months off from writing, social media, and blogging. I didn’t work a single day during those two months, just so I could figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
December rolled around, resolutions were being made, and I discovered I really couldn’t live without writing. So I opened revisions for another book and started on those.
There will always be ups and downs in your career, but the downs are where I learn the most. I’ve taken the hard lessons my editor gave me and applied them to other books I have lined up. And you know what? My books are ten times better than their originals.
Hope you enjoyed a behind the scenes look at Writing the Romance Novel. Happy writing!