Chanel Cleeton writes contemporary romances, women’s fiction, and thrillers. She is the author of the International School series and the Capital Confessions, both contemporary romance, as well as the New Adult thriller series Assassins. Her newest novel, Fly with Me, is the first in the new Wild Aces contemporary romance series and pubs next month, with the second book, Into the Blue, following in July. Chanel is published by Harlequin HQN, Penguin/InterMix, and Penguin/Berkley.
Chanel’s interview follows the Rafflecopter form/entry link for today’s Free Partial Edit by the Editor Giveaway. Scroll down for her full interview.
How many drafts does it typically take before you feel confident about the character and story choices you made? Each manuscript varies for me, but I typically feel pretty good about major arcs fairly early on and then I go through many, many drafts cleaning up the manuscript until I can read though it without finding anything I want to fix. I’m a pantser, but I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters and developing them and the story threads in my head, so by the time I start writing I’m familiar with the world I’m building and am able to follow the threads as they unspool. I spend a lot of time tweaking my manuscripts for things like dialogue, sentence construction, etc., but big picture items usually don’t change very much from first draft to final.
Do you use critique partners or beta readers? I typically don’t. I tend to work best in my head so I like to finish the draft and then send it off to my agent and editor to get their thoughts. My traditional publishing schedule often makes it tough to get feedback from critique partners or beta readers if I’m on a tight turnaround for a book.
Which draft typically gets shown to your editor? How much revising happens after the editor sees that draft? This varies by book, but I would say at an absolute minimum, I go through four drafts before I send a book to my editor. Sometimes the number is higher. Once I’m through with the first draft, I ALWAYS edit once on my computer, once on a printed draft, and once on an e-reader because changing formats always helps me to catch new things. Sometimes I’ll go through this process a few more times if I’m still catching things. My editor can see anywhere from my fourth to twelfth draft. When I get edits back, I typically like to go through each stage of edits (developmental, copy, and proofreading) three times to make sure I’ve caught everything.
Can you share an experience of having a story problem you didn’t think you could solve but eventually did? I find a lot of writing solutions when I step away from my computer so I’ll often find that some of my best ideas come when I’m doing something else. For some reason, I seem to be super productive when washing my hair. 🙂 I think about my characters and story all the time when drafting and often letting the story live in my head a bit helps me to think outside the box and come up with a solution for whatever might be stumping me.
Would your ideal writing day consist of original drafting or revising? Why? That’s a great question! It definitely depends on my mood. I LOVE revising because there’s something rewarding about polishing your manuscript and whipping it into shape. At the same time, I love the magic of drafting and watching my story unfold and take me in unexpected directions.
How do you know you’ve got the final draft? I try to read through my manuscript as a reader would and flag anything that pulls me out of the story or doesn’t flow properly. When I can read through the manuscript without flagging anything and I’m happy with it, I consider it my final draft. From the first moment I sit down at my computer to the moment a reader has my book in their hands, I’ve typically gone through about fifteen drafts of the story.
Thank you, Chanel!
P.S. For more on this topic, read Creative Process, New Adult Fiction, Revision Week