Do You Edit as You Write? #amwriting advice by Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon

Today at Daily (w)rite, we’re getting to know author Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon, an author of short stories, articles, and the novel A Place in the World.

A pLace in the World
A pLace in the World

Q: What is the book about?

A: The novel is called A Place in the World and is set in the cloud forests of Colombia.  The story is about a young biologist ex-pat who marries a Colombian and goes to live on his family’s remote coffee finca (farm).  Calamities strike one after another and Alicia ends up running the finca alone.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

A: I grew up in Latin America and the places and people have stayed in my heart and mind through the years.  You could call it a tribute, but like most writers the story was simply in my head. It was my excuse to study and write about the rainforest as well as the culture. (When I first moved to the States for university I wanted to be a rainforest biologist.)

Q: How did you come up with the title?

A: I came up with the title fairly early in the game. A Place in the World is a double entendre as it is both about a certain place – a coffee finca surrounded by an emerald forest – but also about a young woman finding her place in the world.

 Q: Tell us about your cover art .

A: A cover is an important element since it is the first thing one sees.  I had a definite notion of what I wanted, but it took me a long while to find it.  The art work is a painting by Martin J. Heade of a cloud forest and has been a favorite of mine for years.  It captures the essence of the book and is quite beautiful.

 Q: How did you develop your characters?

A : Both consciously and unconsciously.  One thing I do in the beginning is draw up detailed biographies for myself of each member of the cast.  Even though I don’t use all the information I want to know their backgrounds and the personality traits – but sometimes the characters surprised me.  Peter for example was supposed to be a “bad boy” but he turned out to be a romantic interest and a solid man.  I knew Alicia had to evolve from a naïve young woman into a capable and confident person although she just seemed to do this on her own.

 Q: What would you call your genre – why did you choose it?

A : It chose me. I like to think of it as mainstream or literary – that’s what I read mostly.  Is multicultural a genre?  My publisher listed it also as a “romantic adventure”.

Q: Tell us about your writing process. Do you edit as your write?

A : I edited as I wrote and I don’t advise it!  I would finish a chapter and compulsively rewrite instead of moving on with the story. It is better to power through a rough draft and then rewrite …and rewrite again. I began writing scenes as they came to me and then stitching them together without knowing how the story would end.  I needed structure however, so I soon came up with an outline and the realization that I had to decide on the ending.  Until you have your ending you cannot foreshadow and develop your plot.


Cinda MacKinnon
Cinda MacKinnon

Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon grew up in Latin America. Her experiences and love for the people, culture and natural setting of Colombia resulted in this novel. A writer, former university lecturer, and environmental scientist, she has an MS in geology and a longtime passion for botany. This background enabled her to weave in details on tropical nature and geology, as well as Colombian society, into her writing. She lives in northern California with her husband and their golden retriever.


Find Cinda:


VirtualBookworm(for other vendors:ISBN: 978-0-9888483-0-6)

Reviews, e-book and softcover 

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  1. rhchatlien

    It sounds like a fascinating story, and the cover is beautiful and eye-catching. I usually do a light edit of each chapter and then move on to he next. It appeases my editor side without bogging me down.

  2. Alison Juste

    I always edit as I write, mostly because it fools me into thinking “No I haven’t hit writer’s block, I’m still writing!”
    I also don’t know what genre I write, so I can only hope that the more I flesh out the story, the genre will pick me as well. 🙂

  3. cindamackinnon

    Hi Arlee- I always tell myself to resist the urge to edit as I write; it is a losing battle but one that must be fought! Thanks for the good wishes!

  4. dalo2013

    Generally, I always want to keep with the flow of writing so I put off editing until that feeling where I have exhausted my thought…then either I toss it or edit it 🙂

  5. Rebecca Meyer

    Cool interview. I always think it’s interesting when authors explore other cultures in their novels. I can also understand the difficulties in editing while still in the rough writing stages. For me I need to just let the words flow before I can think about rearranging or cutting something out.

  6. etiennehanratty

    Best wishes with the book. I edit obsessively as I go, because I’m a pedant and I’ll gladly pick apart my own work if I can’t find anyone else’s to do it to.

    • cindamackinnon

      Oh I think there is always someone to do it!. I’ve been in several writing critique groups that ranged from vicious know-it-alls to really helpful and diplomatic. Either way the final choice is yours alone.

  7. Arlee Bird

    Best wishes with the book, Cinda. I have an irresistable urge to always edit as I write. Sometimes I get on a roll and just write, but not often. I think having an ending to work toward is a wise idea.

    Wrote By Rote

    • cindamackinnon

      Hi Lee- I always tell myself to resist the urge to edit as I write; it is a losing battle but one that must be fought! Thanks for the good wishes!