Saw someone w/a fiction revising Q elsewhere and thought I'd answer it here bc I'm clearly not going to get any 'real' work done on a release day, lolsob ;)

So -- How Cassie Edited 400k of Fiction Last Year, here we go!

First off, I'm not going to lie, it helps if you've been doing this forever (I'm like 23 years in) so yeah, experience is a magic of it's own.

But if my experience can help you, all the better, the world needs more great books!

Assuming you've gotten to the end of your book, the #1 thing ppl tell you to do is 'wait' before heading back in, which yes, totally works...but it does cost you time.

Another hack for getting around that is to switch up the way you view/feel your book....

Print it out. Read it aloud. Change your font/font size (I'm not even kidding!)

Just nudge it enough to trigger different parts of your brain to concentrate on this 'new' version of the book you just wrote and know intimately.

Okay, so, now -- you've gotten all the way to the end -- presumably that means you know your book's theme. (Even you, ya pantsers.)

When you go back to the want to make sure that EVERYTHING is working in conjunction towards that theme.


This is how you wind up creating a book that feels like a book.

It doesn't have to be wall to wall metaphors and literary allusions, BUT, in general, most of us fiction writers don't get the trust from a reader to let characters/plot points head off into dead ends.

Famous people get to do that (if their words are real pretty) but the rest of us plebes trying to get by don't.

Mostly, because so many readers (and editors/agents) have been burned by books like that before.

No one wants to start reading something only to have it

disintegrate in their brain because you've set up a character as being/acting/thinking one way in the beginning, but then go on to contradict themselves (without visible/underrstandable motivation on the page) two chapters later.

I like to think of this -- don't laugh -- as brushing a horse's side.

Like when you do that, all the strokes you make are super visible.

If you've got a cowlick, or went the wrong direction, it's easy to see, even from a distance.

So don't do that.

Make sure your whole book is channeled like a spear in one direction (unless you know what you're doing, and you're doing it in purpose, intentionally.)

People talk a lot about Chekov's gun in fiction, the adage that if you set a gun in the first act you have to use it in the third, but that's not only true for proverbial guns -- it should be true for EVERYTHING.

(This is a corollary to our brushing talk above, obvs.)

Because if things in your book aren't useful elements, to plot, characterization, or motivation...why the eff are they in there?

If it's just because they make you feel good or fancy as an author....

Chances are they're distracting to the reader and they need to go. (See also: killing your darlings, which this isn't 100% overlap w/but close enough.)

I'm not saying you can't put stuff you like into your books.

I'm saying that if you DO you gotta EARN IT OUT.

A useful thing to consider is that readers -- like the rest of us -- want things to Make Sense, right? We're wired to solve mysteries, it's what kept us alive back-in-the-day (and, unfortunately, what's killing us now, what with Q-bs.)

this has a twofold effect on us, as writers.

First, as above, if you throw in random bits, people will be peeved that they didn't earn out. (Where'd the dog go? Why did I care that his ex-wife was named Lena?)


I cannot emphasize this enough.

Everyone wants to get more than two paragraphs of eyeballs, right? We all want our exciting ish to start on page 3, post-warm up.

But expectation wise, you just don't get that time.

And it's not because people can't be patient, it's because that even from PARAGRAPH ONE readers are making up their mind about what kind of book this book is going to be.

When I used to donate book crits for charity causes (when I had more free time/available brain cells not in crisis mode), I would spend probably the longest on people's first page, always.

And people would be all BUT WHYYYYYYY about it.

And it's nothing to do with the quality of your writing or whatever -- it's just that those first few lines, you're making a pact with your reader about The Book To Come.

I like to think about this part like spinning plates simultaneously.

You've gotta get everything up and running at the same time -- the tone of your book (your voice, essentially), a place, or a character, and, most importantly, why people should care.

Does everything need to start in media res, like with a shoot out? No. (Especially if there's no stakes for a fight on the page yet.)

But you know what's interesting AS HELLLLLL?

Someone about to go to a fight.

Someone scared.

Someone who knows they're not as prepared as they should be.

You can get SO MUCH across in such a short time if you only get the reader to care.

Wind 'em up -- and then when you're done, make sure you point them in the direction you want them to go.

Okay -- so -- you know your theme, and you've got a solid intro -- work thru your book piece by piece.

Does each scene Do A Thing?

By which I mean, is it working for you? Working hard? Earning out?

You're probably familiar with the whole A or V theory of scene writing, which is come in low, have a transition, leave high, etc -- the point is to make the reader's brain stay on your book like

you're wiggling a cat toy for a cat.

You come in at one level, and SOMETHING CHANGES, that reconceptualizes either the character, the motivation, the setting, etc.

Your protag gets given info.

They find out their mother never loved them.

etc etc etc.

The charge of the scene (your individual story unit) must have been changed -- you're zipping that cat toy back and forth for the reader, right?

Presenting new info, like you're laying down cards, keeping them mesmerized during a card trick.


You also cannot be all flash.

If you just keep escalating relentlessly, without leaving readers room for breath, they'll get exhausted and give up.

So you need to put in (or plan for) some moments or rest or character contemplation, where the book has a thoughtful lull.

Ideally -- read: always. You can't cheat when you're a new fiction writer, most often you won't get given the time -- each scene'll be doing multiple levels of work -- revealing characterization, emotions, motivations.

If they're not -- since we're revising -- can you combine them?

Do two scenes need to be separate? What would the emotional intensity be if your character who was going into a fight also just knew that their mom had died? Etc.

Now you're all, 'shit, Cassie, that's so cheesy', and I hear you, I hear you.


You can do these things well if you're skilled enough (and that's where the art and practice comes in.)

I like to get DEEEEPPPP into my characters, and I think that's why people largely love them (dear lord may I not be cursing myself with hubris here, please and thank you.)

Because even if you don't like what they're doing, you understand why they're doing it.

And -- I just want to give a shout-out to sex scenes here, as someone who writes a lot of them.

People want to think they're dead spaces in a book, where nothing happens except for porn, and that's just not true.

It's entirely possible to elevate characterization/motivation/plot inside the confines of a sex scene and I would argue that oftentimes, it's actually EASIER to do it there than elsewhere.


The characters have chosen to be together, and have something obvious to do.

Which leads us to physical blocking.

In revision, are your characters just standing there, discussing plot in nothingness?

I get it!

I'm a white-room-er, too!

But revision's the time to fix that.

To give your settings life (other than sheer functionality) and to make them evoke feelings in your readers (according to your chosen theme that you're aiming for.)

And to give your characters freedom to move about the cabin.

I really miss Back in the Day when characters could smoke because that was always SOMETHING FOR THEM TO DO.

You could have them pause thoughtfully before lighting up, thinking on what they'd just been told.

Or angrily stub a butt out, etc.

Obviously, we can't do that anymore, ce la vie, but during revision is the time to figure out what your character does -- and it may be a repetitive action, a habit -- that makes them feel 'alive' to your reader.

This is also a good time to imply some movement in the text itself VIA THE MAGIC OF MAKING YOUR CHARACTERS TRAVEL.

Not across the country. Just walking down the hall. Stalking forward, shouting after someone else walking away, etc.

Keep the cat-toy twitching, you know?

I have to take a break here bc I need to take a shower before our cleaners get here and at the mo' w/my ankle it's a production, but I'll bb with thoughts on Ending Books Well if ppl want in 30 or so.

xo - Cassie
Cleaners are here early, no shower for me, but I'm set up to go again in the office w/my leg up. (This is my longest twitter thread ever, don't hate me, but I'm also on a roll.)


So a perfect ending, for me, is resonant.

Here's what I mean by that.....

It's the perfect reverberation of surprise and inevitability, at the same time.

Going deeper -- by definition, all romances end with a happily ever after, right?

Therefor, everyone reading a romance, knows that there's gonna be a happily ever after even BEFORE THEY START THE BOOK.

Does that bother them???

Not in the slightest!

Because they're reading to hold that kitten of HEA (the happily ever after) in one hand and the 'how the heck is the author going to pull this off?' kitten purring in the other.

But it's not just romance! All the Fast and Furious movies -- what are they promising? Action and cars (and the @TheRock , if you're me)! You know why you're buying the ticket from the jump.

@TheRock But what keeps you there in the theater, and not just using your imagination at home, is the WHOLE REST OF THE STORY.

So don't get scared when I say your ending needs to resonate, because chances are, some part of it already does, sheerly by virtue of you having written...

@TheRock In the lane of whatever genre it is that you're in.

What readers don't want tho, by and large, are deus ex machina endings -- where you've cornered yourself, so god or nanobots have to save your chars, or a godzilla comes thru and stomps everyone equally.

They want to feel like the protagonist has learned things -- by the actions you gave them, writing and revising, intentionally, weaving theme with plot.

Did your anti-gun char have to use one? Does he decide not to at the end, even if it costs him his life?

Whatever your theme was, now is the time to land that fish, k???

So if you're going for a true love conquers all ending -- then that's gotta be there.

If you're going for a more subtle, 'we don't always get what we want' theme, then your char needs to a) get a thing but also b) see the thing they didn't get, riding off into the sunset -- & in that case your book is probably more about managing expectations along the way.

Whatever you have sold your reader -- the ending is the time to hand deliver it. Even if your ending itself is intentionally ambiguous -- you must have prepared your reader for that eventuality on their reading path.

You can't bait and switch is what I'm sayin'.

Broke this at the last tweet, lol.

I have other writing advice (about how to write a book mostly, and also #writinglife thoughts) but this thread is super long and I hate to be cluttersome, so it can wait a few days.

xo - CA

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More from @CassieY4

14 Sep
okay, after my tweet last night, turns out y'all are into the gross stuff, apparently especially scrotal related gross stuff, so here goes -- I won't post any pictures, what y'all google is on y'alls souls.

Fournier's gangrene is a nec fasc that effects genitalia...

Nec fasc = necrotizing fasciitis = flesh eating bacteria.

Like those things you read sometimes -- "she jumped in the lake, and went to sleep, and when she woke up we'd had to amuputate three limbs"

only this time on men's junk.

I don't really know why it sometimes happens there, people say 'oh, they're unclean' or whatever, but honestly, the incidences I've seen of it seem to be usually attributable to 1) bad luck and 2) a general desire not to go into the hospital have have ppl inspect your stuff

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13 Sep
A really random thread (because I haven't written enough fiction today and still have words in me) about why working on a burn unit rocks and it's the best place in the hospital. Follow if interested.

First off, everyone thinks it's gory and horrible and you can do it and shit smells but fuck all that.

The true magic of the burn unit is this -- demographically, the ppl who get burned are most likely to survive.

It's pretty much all dumb 16-25 yr old boys doing dumb shit, and pedi patients with scalds.

Yes, there are sad outliers, etc, in large people admitted into burn units for care survive.

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13 Sep
A meta-thing in this week's What we Do in the Shadows, is them playing MUSE during the 'Twilight' kickball part, bc Stephanie Meyer is a huge MUSE fan and each of her movies got their own brand new MUSE song.

Also, that show continues to be the only good thing in this timeline.
This is the only level of fame that I aspire to, really.

Pay off my house, not have to work again, fine, but to be in a sitch where someone is, "Oh yes, to accommodate you, we'll pay Matt Goddamned Bellamy to write a song specifically for your proj."

I'd die and go to heaven.
A random thing about me, is when we did EMDR therapy for my PTSD, my therapist wanted me to come up with 3-4 deep veins of good memories to balance out the tragic covid work ones, and one of my good ones was going to @muse shows.
Read 4 tweets
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This is the most followers I've ever gotten in a day.

I'm getting the irrational urge to say something stupid or do something dorky to scare you new people off.
I think the thing that I'm feeling here now is the awkwardness of this being a semi-professional and branded/ing 'author' space for me...but also where I whine about why the fuck hasn't Neelix died yet, I've been watching Voyager for 7 effing seasons, WHY.
I missed an episode with the girls this afternoon, and we all have a pact, if we miss the episode where he dies, everyone will either stop viewing immediately, or everyone has to rewatch it with you.
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Zomg, y'all are really getting the word out! Year of the Nurse is down to #108 on Amazon's free list & I've done 0 promo other than mention it here. I'mma do a Freeboosky on Tues, and my mailing list on Weds, but this is already super amazing!❤️❤️❤️…
I've also gotten my first 'well at least it was free' one star spite review, lol.

One of the reasons I didn't go free sooner was because by casting a wider net, you get readers who don't like your stuff and your rating # goes down.
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If you ever what fiction I wrote last year to stay sane(ish?) and happy(some!) and alive(woohoo!) it was writing this book here: an opposites attract sexy paranormal romance and charming as hellllllll. :D…
Today is Wolf's Princess's release day! :D

And one of the things I'm most proud of in it is that it's alllllll about consent. (All of my stuff usually is, except for the things that are explicitly labeled not!)

But in this book I had the characters make a game of it...

Because they were literally too different to have a functional relationship without abundant rules and enthusiastic participation.

They both wanted to be there with the other person! But they came from, literally, worlds apart.

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