Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ABCs of the Content Edit

Repost from November 2010

Every step of my journey to publication has been a huge learning experience for me. The revision letter was no different. The content edits forCanyon Walls were pretty extensive. At first, I was disappointed, but now, I realize that it is just another step in making me a better writer. Here are a few of the things I learned from my content edit.

A - Avoid emotional whiplash - In an effort to create more tension in scenes, I was unintentionally making my heroine an emotional mess. When an editor labeled this “Emotional Whiplash” a light bulb went on in my brain. What a great way to explain this problem! When you’re adding conflict and emotion in a scene, be careful not to jar your reader.

B - Be Decisive – The editor (at least in my case) lets you know what needs to be changed, but doesn’t tell you how to change it. After I read through the revision letter, I had to make some big decisions about what I would do to correct the problems in my story. No one knows your story better than you do. Learn to follow your instincts, make a decision, and make it work.

C - Consider subplots carefully – Just because you love a secondary plot in your novel, doesn't mean it belongs there. What does it add to your main story? If you removed it, how would it change your story? If it doesn’t add anything to your plot, cut it.

D - Details are important – Content editors are experts at picking up on those little inconsistencies. Before you send your book to an editor or agent, do a read through looking at the details. Come up with a system or a spreadsheet to track these easy-to-miss, but incredibly important, details.

E - Enjoy the process – A big set of revisions can be stressful and cause a lot of self doubt. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Trust me, I know! Every now and then, I had to step back and remember that I’m getting the chance to do what I love to do. What could be better than that?


  1. I've had to make revisions on every ms I've sent to my agent so far. This last one was tough at first. I'm always afraid when the editor tells me to make a change, I'm going to go blank and not be able to do it.

    This was a great post! LOVED it!

  2. I'm entrenched in a big set of revisions right now. It's definitely an intense experience.

  3. I like your B. I love it when editors trust the story to writers.
    ~ Wendy

  4. C is a problem for me...I'm addicted to sub plots. I know I put too many in my writing!

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  6. You're right, what could be better!!? :-) Wonderful tips. I agree that my content edits strengthened my story.

  7. These tips are so spot on! Thank you! The first half hour after I get a content edit is bad. After that, my brain kicks into gear to see how I can fix what's broken.

  8. Outstanding tips! I used to struggle with A. That is a great way to describe the situation - emotional whiplash.

  9. Great post, Julie! Speaking of content, this post would be perfect for Writer...Interrupted. I'd love to repost!