In the Raw a Guest Post by Todd Skaggs

Let’s play a game.

Think of the best sentence in your favorite book. The sentence that made you stop and go back and read the sentence again. That didn’t make you-it commanded you to stop and read it again. Maybe even a third time.. To appreciate its brilliance. Do you have the sentence in your mind?


Now imagine the book without that sentence.

Would it be the same book?  Sure. Would it be the same story? Most likely. Would it have had the same impact on you?Probably not.

Could some other word pairing, phrasing, or rhythmic arrangement move you the way that one sentence did?  It’s not likely.

Oh, how rude of me.

Hello there, loyal readers of the awesome Books by Violet blog. I am not Violet, but I’m assuming you already knew that based on the fact that there is not actually a book being reviewed on these pages you’re perusing.

Once again, I’m here to share some insight that might not cross your mind as you’re reading your favorite or next favorite book.

Here is the simple truth–books are written by people. More importantly, a book is written by readers. And there you have the tie-in.

Back to the opening. Do you still have that sentence in your mind? Awesome, I knew you wouldn’t let me down.

What if I told you that the sentence probably wasn’t in the first draft of your favorite book? That one magical gathering of words maybe didn’t even appear until the third or fourth pass through of the rewriting and editing process.

So, how does a writer make a great idea into a great book?  That is the million dollar question. A writer takes an idea from their head to the page by the act, sometimes willingly, sometimes against their will, of writing.

But just writing it isn’t good enough, my dear readers. Once the author gets the words out of their head into some sort of workable draft, then the *real* work begins.

The real work is not so simple. As I do more writing, I realize that as an author, writing the draft takes the least amount of effort. When I get to the point where I am drafting and crafting the story, I’m excited. I can’t wait to see those words materialize in front of me

Once a draft of a book or story is written, the writer doesn’t stop. They keep writing it. They write. And they then read. And they edit. And they write. And they read. And then, as V.E. Schwab so eloquently stated in her 10-minute writer workshop, when they read the story as a reader, then it’s done. Well, finished. A story is never done. But all writers, at least the ones I know, get to the point where the story is finished.

So, what is this writing and reading and writing again thing I’m babbling about? I’m speaking (well typing) of course of the dreaded re-write and editing process. If you want to see a writer weep, ask them what kind of relationship they have with their editors.

No. Don’t do that. Nobody likes to see a writer cry. Trust me on this, it’s not pretty.

In the Raw a Guest post Todd Skaggs

The editing process is pretty fresh in my mind because I recently finished a short but intense session with a professional editor. It was a first for me. She was, however, a bit more experienced. Thankfully she guided me gently along in the process.

In these days of the self-pubbed phenoms, it’s easy for someone to think they can get by and publish without any kind of editing.  And maybe they can. More power to the ones that can and do. I can see both sides.

My first book was published without an editor. This short story that I just finished was done so with the help of a professional editor.

So, what’s the difference? I am sitting here, in a coffee shop just off of a major interstate thinking about those two pieces. While I am insanely proud of my first published novella, I know without the slightest wisp of a doubt that the short story (which is as yet unpublished) is stronger. It’s a tighter story. And that result is solely because I worked with an editor (there may be a post down the road on what THAT was like, but that’s a story for another time).

I know many writers and the mileage definitely varies in the editor vs. non-editor camps, but I think for me personally, if I am to feel comfortable that I’m giving you the best story I can, I will be working with editors.  

Here is the irony. As I’m writing this piece, there is a mish-mash of ideas. I have things I want to say and at this point, I’m just doing best to get the words out. The form that you are reading right now, the piece that Violet posted, isn’t actually what I started out with. I can assure you of that. To prove it, I’m going to do something that I usually never do. I am going to transfer this file from the NEO2 (basically my idea pad) and post it over on my blog, and you can read it as I wrote it in the first draft.  If you’re so inclined, you can see it here:

I can assure you, that it will be nowhere as tight as the version you read on Violet’s blog. Now, that could just be me flattering myself. Both versions could in fact be garbage, but the version you’re reading now is the polished garbage.

And that kind of is the point. As an author, I feel that I owe it to you, the reader, to deliver the best story I can.

Sure, I have a lot of time invested in writing the story. But so? I’m going to write anyway. It is absolutely easier on the days where the words feel like they are stuck in peanut butter and maple syrup to write knowing that there is someone out there looking forward to reading them, but if you didn’t read them, I’d still write.

That means that the real time commitment is on your end. You, as the reader have a massive choice to make. What book are you going to give your time to? I want it to be mine. And because of that, I’m going to do what it takes to give you the best return on your investment.

And if you’re looking for suggestions on what to read, you’re in the right place. Violet reads with a voracious appetite and has some great insight on the books she reviews.  I will deliver you safely back in to her capable hands.

Until next time, my friends, it’s your friendly-neighborhood Writer-Man signing off.



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