Indie Author Weekly

073: Writing and editing process for Her Bad Idea

August 18, 2020 Sagan Morrow Episode 74
Indie Author Weekly
073: Writing and editing process for Her Bad Idea
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Indie Author Weekly
073: Writing and editing process for Her Bad Idea
Aug 18, 2020 Episode 74
Sagan Morrow

Today, I want to share about my most recent writing and editing process, and the general experience I had with writing my upcoming romantic comedy, Her Bad Idea. Release day is just ONE WEEK from today! You can pre-order this slow burn, forced proximity, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romcom at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books

I actually started outlining and writing it back in November. You can learn more about the planning process for Her Bad Idea in Episode 52 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast. 

I worked on writing the book here and there pretty much every month of this year, but wrote the majority of it in May, and then did a ton of rewrites and edits in July. It took me about 85 hours in total to write and edit this novel, which is the most I’ve spent on any book project to date. 

Let me tell you, writing a romance novel during a pandemic is hard. Like, really hard! I was living by myself up until July, and I haven’t been dating anyone since the pandemic. I’m quite certain that there would be some very different scenes in Her Bad Idea if it weren’t for the pandemic, to be honest! 

Anyway, that’s a big part of why it took me such a long time to write it. I was also very focused on building up other parts of my business—particularly teaching about productivity to solopreneurs—earlier this year, in order to create a stronger financial foundation for developing the authorpreneur side of my business. I’m happy to share more about that in a future episode if you’re interested; just let me know by reaching out on Twitter or Instagram, @Saganlives. 

TUNE IN to this episode to learn about my experience writing and editing each draft of Her Bad Idea... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Show Notes Transcript

Today, I want to share about my most recent writing and editing process, and the general experience I had with writing my upcoming romantic comedy, Her Bad Idea. Release day is just ONE WEEK from today! You can pre-order this slow burn, forced proximity, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romcom at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books

I actually started outlining and writing it back in November. You can learn more about the planning process for Her Bad Idea in Episode 52 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast. 

I worked on writing the book here and there pretty much every month of this year, but wrote the majority of it in May, and then did a ton of rewrites and edits in July. It took me about 85 hours in total to write and edit this novel, which is the most I’ve spent on any book project to date. 

Let me tell you, writing a romance novel during a pandemic is hard. Like, really hard! I was living by myself up until July, and I haven’t been dating anyone since the pandemic. I’m quite certain that there would be some very different scenes in Her Bad Idea if it weren’t for the pandemic, to be honest! 

Anyway, that’s a big part of why it took me such a long time to write it. I was also very focused on building up other parts of my business—particularly teaching about productivity to solopreneurs—earlier this year, in order to create a stronger financial foundation for developing the authorpreneur side of my business. I’m happy to share more about that in a future episode if you’re interested; just let me know by reaching out on Twitter or Instagram, @Saganlives. 

TUNE IN to this episode to learn about my experience writing and editing each draft of Her Bad Idea... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Hello friends! Sagan here. Welcome back to Indie Author Weekly, where I share my behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

If you’re new to this podcast, I am a productivity strategist for multi-passionate creatives at SaganMorrow.com: I help people manage their time and energy effectively, through customized, actionable strategies that work for your unique life and business. When I’m not teaching about productivity to solopreneurs, I spend my time writing romance novels, and occasionally, business books. And that is what this podcast is all about: the adventures of the author life.

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share about my most recent writing and editing process, and the general experience I had with writing my upcoming romantic comedy, Her Bad Idea. Release day is just ONE WEEK from today! You can pre-order this slow burn, forced proximity, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romcom at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books. I’ll give you all those links in the show notes of this episode, too. 

By the way, I read a brief excerpt from this story in Episode 72 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast—so you can tune into that episode if you’re curious to learn more about Her Bad Idea.

Also! You can get the first chapter for FREE on the secret version of this podcast at SaganMorrow.com/secretpodcast, or you can pre-order the book directly at SaganMorrow.com/books for just $2.99.

Okay! Let’s dive into my experience with writing this book...

I actually started outlining and writing it back in November. You can learn more about the planning process for Her Bad Idea in Episode 52 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast.

I worked on writing the book here and there pretty much every month of this year, but wrote the majority of it in May, and then did a ton of rewrites and edits in July. It took me about 85 hours in total to write and edit this novel, which is the most I’ve spent on any book project to date. 

Let me tell you, writing a romance novel during a pandemic is hard. Like, really hard! I was living by myself up until July, and I haven’t been dating anyone since the pandemic. I’m quite certain that there would be some very different scenes in Her Bad Idea if it weren’t for the pandemic, to be honest! 

Anyway, that’s a big part of why it took me such a long time to write it. I was also very focused on building up other parts of my business—particularly teaching about productivity to solopreneurs—earlier this year, in order to create a stronger financial foundation for developing the authorpreneur side of my business. I’m happy to share more about that in a future episode if you’re interested; just let me know by reaching out on Twitter or Instagram, @Saganlives.

When I finally finished writing a “good enough” full draft of the book in early June, I printed it out. Then I read through the print version and used colour-coding to organize my thoughts and ideas, which was basically part-way between a developmental edit and a copyedit. At this stage, I was making notes of what I wanted to change, rather than actively making the changes in the moment.

I used green to circle word choices I wanted to improve, and I also used green to put a star next to sentences that had an awkward structure. With my green pen, I also circled any typos I found, and jotted down quick notes in the margins for anything I wanted to remind myself about for the next draft.

Then, I used orange to draw a quick star next to anything that I wanted to make sure I mentioned later on in the book—for example, at the beginning of the story, Scarlett is convinced she lacks time, but by the end of the story, she starts to realize she has a time management problem. The orange pen was a way for me to double-check that I remembered to tie it all together by the end of the story. 

I drew pink stars next to sections where I wanted to add more humour. The first couple drafts of this story just weren’t as funny as I’d intended, but there were still lots of opportunities for humour in various scenes. And finally, I drew blue stars next to sections that could be made a little sexier. The first couple drafts of this book were not sexy at all. Like I said, it’s challenging to write a romance novel during a pandemic, when you can’t get inspiration from going on dates and such! Again, there were many scenes that had plenty of opportunities for steamier moments or a little more tension, so the blue pen marked those areas.

After I went through the entire printed version and marked it up with my coloured pens, I opened up the digital version, and I began reading every single sentence out loud. I made changes any time I read something that felt weak, stilted, or awkward. I also used this time to incorporate the edits I’d written on the print version of the book, so I went through them simultaneously. Then, after doing this for each chapter, I plugged that chapter into Hemingway App and removed or replaced a few adverbs… because sometimes I can be heavy-handed with adverbs. 

While I was doing this, I jotted down on paper any time I noticed repeated words used again and again. There are some character actions that kept coming up on a routine basis—for example, the main love interest smirks a lot. Making note of these things when I started noticing them makes it easier for me to go back through the book in another round of edits, and play with word choice. 

After that, I went back through the entire book and reread it all again, tightening it up some more, and then I gave it to my spouse, Mr Science, to read and get his feedback on it. My main goal with every book I write is that it is better than the previous book I published. That’s really how I know I’m improving as a writer and as a storyteller. So when I gave the book to him, I had many other questions I wanted him to answer, but ultimately I wanted his feedback on whether he thought it was better than my previous book. He’s very honest, especially when I request specific, direct answers like that, so this worked really well! 

Something I caught myself doing during one of these rounds of edits was that I was putting pressure on myself in an unproductive way: I’d think, “what will people say in their reviews during XYZ scene?” or “Maybe readers won’t interpret this the way I intend.” When I caught myself worrying about this, I realized that I was going about it all wrong. 

For one thing, we can never predict what readers will think when they’re reading our books. For another, books are subjective. One person might think it’s a 5-star book, whereas another reader might give it 1 star. It’s impossible to please everyone, and that’s okay. 

The best thing you can do, as the author, is to not worry or wonder about what anyone else will think. Write the book according to your standards. Ask yourself this simple question: Do you like your book? If you enjoy your book, I’m willing to bet there are many other readers out there who will love it, too! Don’t let insecurities get in the way. There are so many readers out there who are waiting impatiently for you to publish your book!

Okay, so the next thing I did was another round of book edits where I did a search for commonly-used words and gestures, to see which ones I was overusing—and here I referred to that list I’d jotted down during a previous edit—and I replaced some of those words with other options. 

Next, I read through all the previous books in the series again. Now that Her Bad Idea was fresh in my head, I wanted to do a skim of the previous books to make sure there weren’t any consistency errors, and also to make sure I wasn’t reusing a particular line from a previous book! 

Often, when I’m writing one book, I’ll get an idea for a future book, so I’ll write the line or bit of dialogue down. But because I’ve written some scenes so far in advance, they almost seem too familiar… so I’m sometimes worried that a new character is repeating a line that a different character said three books ago. But nope, it’s just because I wrote the idea or scene such a long time ago! Even so, it helps put my mind at ease to double check the previous books, just in case. 

I did a final couple of run-throughs by reading the book on Kobo while listening to the playlist I’d created for it (which you can listen to on Spotify by visiting SaganMorrow.com/playlist7), and I tweaked a few areas here and there. Sometimes I’d think “Nope, I actually don’t like that sentence,” so I’d cut it out altogether, or I’d realize there was a great opportunity for a sexier, higher-tension moment, so I’d add in an extra sentence. The final proofread of this book, while listening to the complete playlist, happened just last week, after I let the book sit for a couple weeks—I wanted to be able to read through it with fresh eyes for that final proofread. 

So, there you have it! That was my experience and process with writing Her Bad Idea, in a nutshell.

You can pre-order Her Bad Idea before the August 25 release day on your favourite e-bookstore platform, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books—links are all in the show notes. 

I have a big goal of getting on the Amazon bestseller list for Romantic Comedies next week, so the more book sales, the better! Please consider buying this book, telling your friends to buy this book, and maybe buying a copy or two for friends, to help me achieve that goal. 

This story is a fun, lighthearted read, and one advance reader already made the comment about how much she really enjoyed having an escape from *everything* going on in the world right now! So if you want to spread some humour and joy and fun, then ordering copies of Her Bad Idea and telling your friends about it is a great way to do just that. 

Again, links to buy it now are in the show notes. 

Now, I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram, @Saganlives, to chat about it! And you can send me a message on either of those platforms if you have requests for future episode topics, too. The more you tell me what you’d like to see more of on this podcast, the better that I can accommodate that. If you want me to elaborate on anything I mentioned here, I’m happy to do so—just let me know. You can also submit your questions or topic ideas anonymously at SaganMorrow.com/question

If you enjoyed this episode, please take 2 minutes to share this podcast on social media and subscribe and rate it on Apple Podcasts—any time you share it or leave a rating or review, it helps more listeners find the Indie Author Weekly podcast, so every bit counts! I really appreciate your support.

By the way, you can access complete word-for-word transcripts of this episode and all past episodes, plus sample chapters of my romantic comedies and a few other bonuses and goodies, on the “secret” version of this podcast. Get access to all of that at SaganMorrow.com/secretpodcast.

Thanks so much for tuning in to the Indie Author Weekly podcast, and I will see you in the next episode.