Friday, August 23, 2013


by Peg Brantley, who is currently about 60 pages away from finishing her first round of professional edits and whose head hurts. If there are errors in this post, she apologizes but is stepping away from her computer, shrugging her shoulders and looking for wine.

When I begin writing a new book, I'm on a honeymoon high. I've fallen in love with the characters, tingled with the plot concept, and sensed the possibilities to make it bigger tickle my brain. It's beyond sexy. It's sustainable.

I'm in love.

Then I actually begin to write the thing. And oops, the reality of the relationship sets in. I need to work out some knotty plot issues. Work to make all of the pieces and players organic. Struggle to find the right flow. Keep things moving. Keep a good pace. Entertain. Work. The tingle/tickle stuff from before turns into a smelly heap of you-know-what.

Now I crash headfirst into hate. The image I'd fallen in lusty-love with is cracked and flawed and well, it's fake. It might be beyond my skills to make awesome.

What was I thinking?

This is when I pull up my big girl panties, rely on my research, believe that I've found just the right details to hang the lie—oops—story on, and plow through to a climactic end. Phew! Done!

I'm back in love for the moment, even though the bloom is off the rose. I'm what you might call suspicious.

A couple of revisions later and the story is off to beta readers. They seem to love it. They run the gamut from one who hardly changes a thing to the blessing of one who really pours her heart into the project, making both the story stronger and pointing out weird habits I'd fallen into as a writer. (Thank you, thank you, Polly Iyer. I'm in your debt.)

During the honeymoon phase, it was flawless. Once I got intimate with it, I figured out it's secret weaknesses. The places that could cave. The places I exercised my God-given right to deny. And I'm really clever at dancing around denial.

Not that I would actually know, but I think denial is kind of like an extra-marital affair when it comes to your book. It's pure BS and doesn't help anything.

This is where the marriage counselor/relationship expert comes in.

With every story, I realize that by myself I cannot make it any better. I send it to my editor. That person I love to hate and hate to love and ultimately trust. The person who will help me rebuild my relationship with my story. The person who will corner my weaknesses and not let me get away with them. The mutual goal here is to sift through it all and come out with something my readers will both love and trust, leaving hate in the dust.

When you trust, you keep the faith that somehow you'll not only touch that honeymoon high again, but move beyond it to something that is real, well done, and deserving of your readers.

I'm almost there.


  1. So glad you found the right editor for this story.
    I don't usually start to hate mine until the third proofread, which follows three or four drafts. But it's really only the process that wears me down. Certain scenes can always make me tingle.

    Thanks for the post. Best wishes with the story!

    1. Thanks, L.J. This particular book has had me all over the map, mostly with kinks in the process. But with each kink smoothed out, it's gotten stronger.

  2. You are so right about not being able to write a book alone. Some come easily and others not so much. The best part is getting over the hump of dismay. Glad you made the leap.

    1. Thanks again for your help, Polly. Your suggestions were awesome!

  3. The trust part I get - readers, editors. Gotta have them. I've never had that "love to hate" feeling with an editor. I'm still trying to figure out the love-hate thing. Maybe disgust is a better word. Great characters, great plot, and this is the best writing I can do?

    It would be interesting to pinpoint where in the story (1st third, second major character introduced, sub-plot?) and when in the process (always first draft? when re-reading or checking research?) things change.

    Edits, round two?!

    For hurting heads, single malt Scotch

    1. David, you're right. It's more of an internal battle going on, and I'm an equal opportunity "self-disguster."

      I should finish this round this weekend, tomorrow at the latest. Phew!

  4. You're getting it right, Peg. I've read two of your books and enjoyed them both.


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