Then What?

After three-years, I finished the first draft of a historical fiction book, Sunset Inn, wish you were here. Then what? As a first book newbie, I was smart enough to know the story needed work. I deleted filler words, passive words, and other do not—ever—use words. But, DIY editing wasn’t enough, even though I had completed a Copyediting Certificate Program in 2010, to become a better writer. I wasn’t… not yet.

I had more to do. During an Amazon search for self-editing books, the first one that caught my eye was Renni Brown and Dave King’s, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Second edition. Online, I read up to the available page 9. One click, and I bought it. The authors, “Teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work.” After reading the book to guide me, I still didn’t know how to apply all of the techniques. King was a monthly contributor on the Writers Unboxed website. I had read a few of his posts, and by then I knew I needed an editor like him. His website convinced me.

He lived in “a small home in the hills of Massachusetts,” he was, “the organist at a local church,” and he edited historicals. My book, a historical fiction, had a rural setting in Maine, the main character, Elizabeth, sang and played guitar in a band, and 50s songs ran through the story. I thought, a good match. I contacted him in January 2019, and he agreed to work with me. A slot had miraculously opened up in his schedule. He didn’t want to know about the story—just read the manuscript with fresh eyes. I had to finish it, then send it to him for a Diagnostic Report.

The manuscript was completed in July 2019, and sent off for the initial Diagnostic Report. The 4-page report came in September 2019. The WHAT WORKS first paragraph ended with, “In short, you have a lot going for you.” Next, WHAT NEEDS WORK & RECOMMENDATIONS  basically told me to—start rewriting, switch to deep, intimate POV, add more description, develop stylistic skills, follow through, and make the main character, Elizabeth, suffer more. King ended the report with encouragement, though. “Again, don’t panic. I know I’ve given you a lot to think about. But I do think this is doable, and I can guarantee you will be a stronger writer by the time we’re finished.” A sample edit of a scene, and I knew he was the editor for me.

Fast forward to King’s line-editing process. We worked 50 pages at a time. The first 50 sent to him in October 2019. He edited, and I rewrote until we reached the victorious 280-page end, in March 2020. He also edited a synopsis, query letter, elevator pitch, and jacket cover. I later found his mnemonic, R.U.E, Resist the Urge to Explain in an online interview. I had written detailed explanations at the end of many scenes, in case readers didn’t get it. Interrupting the flow and not advancing the story, King had deleted them. Next came comments in strategic spots—use interior monologue. Give readers a look at the thoughts a character shares with no one else.

Not easy to do, but I did it, following his—why didn’t I think of that—examples.

Dave King’s last email in March left me with hope. I should query agents, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. Much of what I needed to learn cannot be perfected in a single novel. The next novel I write will be built on a much stronger foundation, and that’s where the real value of the work together will show up. “So, keep the faith. Send this one out, and start the next one. And, by all means, blog about our experience together.” I can’t thank Dave King enough for an enlightening experience—the blood, sweat and tears worth it.

Since King told me to start the next one—I have a sequel in the works, and a few ideas …

Along with marriage to Erik, and music success at Newport, the Sunset Inn main character, Elizabeth, suffers more. Melodie takes center stage with Joan Baez, then fades away. Erik teeters on the edge of disaster at the Berlin Wall, and throws Elizabeth off balance. Wilson stays put and steps in … still hanging onto hope.


About C.E.Robinson

Christine Elizabeth Robinson, a former nurse practitioner ventures into the world of fiction to write books. Published in May 2022, THREE YEARS OF HER LIFE, a historical fiction, comes from her love of researching family history. A background as a published poet, experience in writing fiction, non-fiction and screenplays, is an advantage in her writing career. Christine lives in Southern California. A sequel to the debut book, BEYOND THREE YEARS OF HER LIFE, in progress, will be available in 2023. The plot explodes and the characters evolve, moving forward. Even their victories create conflict and consequences.
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34 Responses to Then What?

  1. Ted says:

    That was a great description of part of your journey!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Timothy Price says:

    Very cool. Congratulations.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for walking us through that. Good luck if you decide to go forward.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Marvelous news that your MS is being queried.

    I appreciate that you shared with us your experience with Dave King and some of the things you learned in the process.

    And a sequel? Terrific news.

    Congratulations, Christine.

    Liked by 3 people

    • C.E.Robinson says:

      Thanks so much, Maggie. Working with this editor was just what I needed. I got a few encouraging words in his comments along the editing process, but I got more on how to be a stronger writer. So worth it. A sequel still has history (more research) The Berlin Wall started in 1961, and the tragic outcome for people trying to cross into west Germany. Can’t believe how it fits into the sequel. Querying will take a long time, until I decide all is lost, and self-publish. 📚🎶

      Liked by 1 person

  5. paintdigi says:

    congratulations my dear Christine 👍👍👍
    I sense from afar, the taste of your success, the volume of your suffering, the smell of the writing on the papers, the cries of the characters in the story, and the value of a personal work that will remain forever among the creations of humanity.
    congratulations again, and good luck with the new job (with good health and good luck).
    If you need an image for the cover, you can use one of my works for free. just send me a request by email, I will respond with a special authorization and certificate of authenticity.
    kiss my dear friend 💜

    Liked by 3 people

    • C.E.Robinson says:

      Ahmed, omg…thank you so much for your beautiful in-depth, thoughtful comment. How can I thank you for your generous offer of one of your original paintings for the cover? I had thought of an old Sunset Inn postcard in keeping with the title, Sunset Inn, wish you were here. But, then I remembered you have one or two with sunsets, and some are just plain incredible mountains, flowers, etc. I have them listed: 39 Sunny Bird, Mon 39e Tableau, Mon 11e, My 62,Spring of El Jadida, The Defying Flower, & Spring 2020. Now that you know my thinking, do you have any ideas which one would be fitting, given the title of the book, theme and Years from 1948 to 1961 in New England? I’ll email more. Thank you again, my dear friend.❤️📚 Christine


  6. Jack Eason says:

    Well done that girl – mwah xx

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Join me in congratulating my friend – Her First Book!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Christine. What a process, huh? And how wonderful that you believed in yourself, took the step in contacting David and then followed through. Having another set of eyes is so helpful, and your book will shine for the effort. And the best part– your next book will start off needing less work because of all you’ve learned. Congrats, my friend. Good luck with the querying process. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • C.E.Robinson says:

      Diana, thank you for your supportive comment. What you said is what I now know. The book is so much better, and the next one will flow with what I’ve learned. I’m one chapter into it, and shaping the story. The goal coming clearer. I have time, querying & waiting for responses can take months. Stay safe & well. 📚🎶💛 Christine

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I congratulate you with finishing the book, it definitely takes a lot of patience and is a big achievement! Great post! By the way please join my blog too, if you find it interesting – let’s grow together!😊

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Christine, I’m sorry to be late to the party, but delighted to see a new post from you! Regardless of anything else, finishing the book is a gigantic achievement. Wishing you huge success with book 2. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • C.E.Robinson says:

      Thanks so much, Teagan. I’m so behind on the your Delta Pearl, I’ll wait for the book, and read it at my leisure. Querying agents is a long process. I’ve started the sequel and into another long research about the Berlin Wall start in 1961. The story’s all is lost for the main character. I may do excerpt teasers this time. With questions to ponder. Stay safe, my friend, and keep writing your book. 🤗 Hugs back. 📚🎶 Christine

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Valentina says:

    Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us. To write a book, large or small is a huge task, but still, I don’t think that is the most difficult part. Marketing to me is a mountain to climb and you will make it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Resa says:

    YAY!! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

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