The Warp and Weft of Re-Write

So here are the mechanics of re-writes. At least: the re-writes as they are practiced by my editor, Keith Kahla of St. Martin’s Press.

I wrote the 400-page manuscript and shipped it off to Keith. He sent back edits. I input most of them. He read everything, then sent back more edits. In this case, 22 pages of edits.

I ran into a friend last Thursday. I was sitting in a corridor, nursing a coffee and juggling the 22 pages. “Whoa,” my friend said. “Kicking your ass, much?”


But in a good way.

Here’s an example of the edits I get:

“Page 207: Consider building this [paragraph] up and adding more here? Perhaps, make it clear up-front that this is the French military? In any case, fill out the details in this scene, providing more physical description — not just of the gunship but of the people inside it — in order to ground the reader more.”

With luck, when you read the novel — OK, OK, if you read the novel — you won’t ever notice this paragraph on page 207. It’s not terribly pivotal. It’s one of dozens and dozens of paragraphs that Keith thinks is great but could be better. Cleaner. Tighter.

I read each individual note. I pace, I bounce a tennis ball off the floor (don’t ask; old habit), I mull, then I sit and  figure out how to improve the paragraph.

Then I move to the next note: “Page 208: In think the reference to Sarajevo is ….”

This is the reason I love re-writes. It’s this micro-level of attention. It’s like weaving a tapestry. The overall image is all-important, sure, but with an editor like Keith Kahla, every warp and weft is worth making good.

On we go.

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on July 31, 2012, in Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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