Structural editing and aborio rice

Although you may not think that editing and rice should appear in the same sentence, I have just proven you wrong! This week, I have been immersed in the structural edit for my Hachette young adult verse novel, Grace Notes, out February 2023.

My publisher, Kate Stevens, sent me her thoughts. Plot holes. Characters who need a back story to explain their motivation. Scenes which don’t advance the story. Stilted dialogue through text messages. Shall I continue? You get the picture!

I read through Kate’s notes, started work.

On Tuesday, I planned to cook chicken risotto for dinner. Checked I had all the ingredients. In the evening, I set out the larger frying pan for the chicken risotto, the smaller pan for the vegetarian version for Miss 15, the saucepan for the stock. Found a bottle of white wine so I could add the half cup to the risotto dish. Poured myself a glass – even though it was Tuesday. Poured the oil in, chopped the onion, pulled out the rice. Relished the idea of slowly stirring the risotto, idly watching those grains of rice plump up with my homemade stock while solving plot problems.

Problem – similar size to one of my plot problems. Jasmine rice, not aborio. You cannot cook a risotto with jasmine rice. Could have cooked up the chicken and rice separately but that combination wasn’t doing anything for me.

Took a sip of wine, turned off the stove, looked in the freezer. Thanked my past self for her efforts as I pulled out a beef ragu for three people, a tomato-eggplant sauce for one, a sausage and broccoli sauce for one. Found enough pasta. Served my dinner medley.

On Wednesday, I thought about eating chicken risotto for dinner while I focused on my street artist character’s dilemma – how could he get out to paint in Melbourne’s lockdowns? I worked through scene after scene, making notes, rewriting lines, making more notes. I guessed I’d have to open another bottle of white wine, even though it was Wednesday – risotto really needs that white wine to absorb before the stock goes in.

That evening when Cleo, our dog, nudged me at the desk for dinner, I thought it was probably time I started cooking our dinner, too. Fed Cleo, opened that bottle of white wine, went to grab the bag of aborio rice.

But. I had not left the house all day. Not even to buy aborio rice.

I did check the freezer but my past self had nothing for me. We ate Chinese takeaway. (Note to my kids – there will be none of the usual takeaway over the weekend!)

But yesterday, dear readers, even though I barely left my desk, so focused on fixing up those pesky plot holes, I sent Mr 18 out to the supermarket.

The risotto was delicious. As was the white wine. On a Thursday.

Her sheer audacity


Terri Dixon

I find stirring a risotto very therapeutic as long as it is with a glass of wine for the cook. I’m sure those plot defects will have been solved before Thursday night’s dinner.

Good luck with the rest of the edit.

June 24, 2022 at 7:52 am


Love it. Might cook chicken risotto tonight—-just remembered I don’t have any Arborio rice. 😁😁😁

June 24, 2022 at 9:28 am

Colleen Warfield

Hi Karen,
Love your thought process, good luck with plot holes, cannot wait to read your novel,

June 29, 2022 at 3:45 pm

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