Sharon C. Cooper

Just thinking…

Turning Flab into Muscle

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that every now and then I have these random posts – hence the title of my blog – Just Thinking. Well, this is one of those posts.


Whenever I start new writing projects, I always think about how to make my project/story stronger than the last. These thoughts really come to the forefront of my mind during the editing process – one of my least favorite things about writing.

The words in the title of this particular post would normally be found close to the top of my goals list and would usually be referring to weight, fat, calories, and stuff of that nature. But this time, the “flab” refers to all of the extra words, sentences and sometimes scenes that are not needed in my manuscript. Whereas the “muscle” refers to tightening it all up: getting rid of extra words, tweaking sentences, and sometimes deleting whole scenes. I have to tell you, getting rid of extra or non-needed “stuff” in a story is not easy – and that’s probably the biggest part of editing.

Before I go into the not so easy part of writing, let me tell you what I enjoy. The best part of writing a book is the brainstorming and planning. It’s an awesome feeling to create something from nothing – characters, plot ideas, when to blow up something, who you’re going to kill off in a story – all of it! Then you dive into the first draft where anything goes – most writers have a blast at this point. You can write anything you want  – anything! If I could, I’d stop there when writing a story and then start on the next project…but if I did that, my readers would be ticked off because the first draft isn’t pretty … and that’s putting it nicely.

But let’s talk about the more challenging part of writing…the part that sparked my thoughts about turning flab into muscles. Editing. Once you’re done brainstorming and having fun tapping into your creative juices to write the first draft – then comes editing. I can’t speak for other authors, but the editing process is the most painful part of the writing process for me. I’d compare it to having a personal trainer, but your editor is the trainer – helping you get rid of all of the flab (the excess) so you can get that story in the best shape possible. So here’s why I don’t enjoy the editing process:

  • There is nothing worse than having the perfect sentence, the most creative paragraph, and that dynamic scene – only to have your editor suggest cutting it. It’s like being punched in the gut! Usually they’ll suggest this if what you have written doesn’t move your story forward or if the sentence, paragraph, or scene has nothing to do with the story. NOTE: This happens to me more times than I care to admit.
  • Also, as the author, you read the story like a thousand times (I’m exaggerating, but when it’s all said and done – if feels like a thousand times). You read the story over and over trying to catch any mistakes or trying to make it stronger. You might like what you’ve read, but every now and then there are times when something feels off – and you can’t figure out why you don’t absolutely love the story. Needless to say, these moments are a pain in the you know what! Talk about pulling your hair out!
  • Another reason why editing is a pain for me – my editor(s) –like personal trainers – always increase the pressure (like adding more  weight to a fitness machine) pushing you to make the story stronger – making you sweat or forcing you to think…deeper! Don’t get me wrong, I love my editors, but man, sometimes…whew ….

I could go on and on with reasons why I don’t enjoy the editing process, but I won’t. I will tell you this though, despite all of the stress (and sometimes tears) that go into turning flab into muscle (as it relates to writing a book), once the story starts coming together and it’s all that you hope it to be, it’s a wonderful feeling! You’re happy. You know your readers will be happy, and then … it starts all over again.

Okay so that’s it for my random “just thinking” moment. What type of flab are you trying to turn into muscle these days?


October 8, 2014 - Posted by | Just Thinking


  1. We’re such opposites. Lol. As you know, I don’t plan my stories. I have ideas in my head and then just start writing. Where you don’t like the editing process, I enjoy it. The hard part for me is getting the first draft done. But once it’s done, I love the cutting and adding during the editing phase. It’s enjoyable because that’s when the story really gets cohesive and stronger.

    Comment by Delaney Diamond | October 8, 2014

    • Lol, you’re right, Delaney – we are opposites!! Sometimes I wish I could just write a complete story on the fly without planning it out (outlining) first. Then again, I’d probably go crazy without some type of road map for the story. 🙂 My hat goes off to you for enjoying the editing process! For me, the first draft is when I can be free to write the story rolling around in my head. The editing is more like … I have to make it pretty for the readers. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Comment by sharonccooper | October 8, 2014

  2. Great post, Sharon! I, too, struggle to delete unwanted scenes on occasion, but overall, I love editing and revision, so much that I do it for other people’s novels as well as my own. Ha! I’m doing a content edit for a client on a 200,000 word suspense novel that I need to cut in half to make it marketable. His story is awesome, but the manuscript needs a lot of work. He’s probably going to hate me when I get his work back to him with all my suggestions for the scenes he needs to cut to keep the story moving forward at a good pace. I think I’ll forward your post to him. 🙂

    To me, revision is the most fun because I get to add layers of subtext, fine tune foreshadowing so it isn’t obvious, flesh out characters, relationships, and scenes. I’m in between you and Delaney. I plan my stories before I begin (although roughly because they always change), but the rough draft is the hardest for me. Next is getting the beginning just right to impress an agent enough to represent me. An agent recently read my manuscript and told me what I needed to revise in the first quarter of the book to finally get it right. She asked me to send it back to her when I finish the next revision, but she hasn’t offered to represent me yet. I really like her and one other agent I’ve worked with who wants the latest revision. Hold a good thought for me, will ya?

    Comment by twtrifles | October 8, 2014

    • You’re an awesome editor Twtrifles. I’m sure you’re going to be a great help to your client. Oh and all the best to you in securing the agent that you want!! Thanks for stopping by!

      Comment by sharonccooper | October 9, 2014

  3. Love ’em. Hate ’em. Editors make our work better, in spite of us. It’s a tough truth, but once you accept it, rewriting is a little easier. Not much, but a little.

    You’ve blogged about what we all feel. Thanks for phrasing it so succinctly.

    Comment by claireflaire | October 8, 2014

    • You’re right, Claire!! I don’t enjoy the editing process, but I appreciate my editors patience and insight! Thanks for stopping by!

      Comment by sharonccooper | October 9, 2014

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