1. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    How many edits/revisions before you felt your book was "done"?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by starseed, May 2, 2009.

    Just curious.

    I am on the 4th full edit/revision of my novel right now. I've already sought out critiques and reviews on the first 5 chapters or so. I've gotten a lot of positive reviews, and some very helpful critique. I've yet to get the later parts of the book critiqued but I am working on it.

    I am just curious about other writer's experiences. It seems that no matter how many times I go through the whole thing, by the time I get back to the start and look through it again, I find 10000 things about the story I want to change/re-write. While this is sort of fun, at this point I'm wondering if it's EVER going to feel "ready".

    So, to anyone who's already written at least one book, how many edits and re-writes did you do before you felt happy that it was done?
     
  2. Edge
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    I have yet to finish my novel, but I am having the same problem with what I have done. Every time I get stuck, I go back and look over the story from the start, and every time I do I get this feeling that things are not good enough, something’s need to be changed. I can't count the times I have done this. I have a feeling that this is due to the fact that we are always more critical of our own work. Nerves also have something to do with it. You are coming to the end of the line...the end of the time when you can make changes. Once the book is out in print, there is nothing you can do to correct things. It can be nerve racking.

    I'm reminded of something else I'm doing. I have been in school to be a pilot for the last few years. This semester I started flying planes that have auto pilot. Now most people think that auto pilot makes flying easier, the pilot can relax, he does not have to worry about anything. But I can tell you this, it is anything but relaxing. I am sure that it has to do with the fact that the plane is now out of my control. It makes me very nervous, this nervousness manifests it's self in me scanning the gadgets over and over again. I'm just guessing but this could be that same thing happening to you.

    Is this a bad thing...no...but at the same time, yes. It is a good thing to check your work over and over. But on the other hand, I am sure that there are people that have great novels, fully written, but have never gotten them published because their nerves keep telling them that there are still changes that need to be made.
     
  3. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Hi! :) Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    So true! I think as writers we have to develop an instinct that allows us to know when to stop messing around with something. I think I'm getting close to getting it though. I find now when I read over certain parts, I think they are perfect as they are and I end up only editing certain parts of the chapter. I just have to get those certain parts right!

    I'd like to be able to get a good finished draft (while still being open to small edits) done fairly soon so I can start looking for an agent.

    Good luck with your writing!
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is difficult to say exactly how many edits/revisions my novels went through before submission. I keep backups of every version, but the way I number them doesn't reflect that.

    Basically I write a chapter or a section. Then the next time I sit down to write, I read and edit what I wrote and then add new material. This process cleans up the work a bit, and also lets me get back into the flow of the story.

    Periodically in the process I'd share chapters with my crit group and then make note of suggestions and sometimes go in and meddle a bit.

    Once the full novel was finished (first draft), I went through it twice, editing and catching minor plot errors, making character dialogue consistent, etc.

    Then I handed it off to readers. About 5 or so read and made notes. I also discussed with them based on their comments and marks on the manuscript then thought about what they all had to say. Made a pass, with notes to modify based on the reader (and crit group) input.

    Let it sit, and then two more passes, making sure everything was good. Then one other person read it to catch those pesky typos and minor gaffs that I simply overlooked. Fixed those with my final pass. Then submitted.

    While waiting and all for readers, that was the time to work on the synopsis and cover letter etc. Note: Writing a decent synopsis is a difficult task in itself.

    That's how I did it, for two novels. I work similarly with short stories. Of course, what works for me doesn't mean it will work for anybody else.

    So, if I count right, I think it's 9 edits of the entire novel. That doesn't count minor things that occur to me, like while driving, and I can surgically go in and alter.

    Terry
     
  5. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I think it was the late Marion Zimmer Bradley who said, "Stories are never finished; they are only abandoned."

    When you reach a point in editing that you are changing things back to an earlier version, it's time to stop fiddling with it. The baby bird has to leave the nest sometime.
     
  6. Ragnar
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    Ragnar Contributing Member

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    If you find 10000 things you want to change about the story every time you read through it you might want to write a new one altogether :p

    Actually, before any major edits think it through, will it really make the story better? Will it go together with the rest of the story? If you're not paying enough attention suddenly you'll end up with two stories, if not more.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I'll never feel like a novel is finished. But there has to come a time when you call it done and start sendig it out.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My experience doesn't correspond with a feeling that a story isn't ever finished. When I complete a novel and submit it, and the same with short stories and articles, I feel they are finished.

    Part of it may be that I am ready to move on and begin working on the next project. But really, I when I am typing the cover letter before sending a project off, I'm not thinking what else could be done or should be done with the story. I know it is a complete tale and the best that I could write it.

    Terry
     
  9. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have genuinely lost count. Over ten, that's for sure.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Read it a year later and try not to change anything.
     
  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have.

    Terry
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've never counted and never will...

    and my best advice is that none of you ever do, either... it's a total waste of time and creative energy... edit/revise/polish as long and as often as it takes to be sure a piece of work is ready to be submitted... then stop fiddling with it and query/submit... period!
     
  13. Chime Elf
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    Chime Elf New Member

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    You can never be fully satisfied with your work, no matter how many times you edit. You have to find the point where you feel it is polished enough to be sent off to publishers. No one can make the decision for you. You have to feel it.
     
  14. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If a writer continually frets over and revises the same project, never submitting and moving on he will:

    * Never complete the project.
    ** Never submit the project and thus, never have a chance for success.
    *** Never move on to other projects, thereby learning from the first and improving with those that follow.

    Sure, you will even find successful writers who look back on previous publications and say, I'd have switched this, or done better with that, but they did the best they could at the time.

    Sometimes readers suggest something the writer should do with the next book, say in a series. Funny thing is, while the reader is reading the most recenly published book (say book A), often book B is already submitted/accepted and somewhere in the editorial/pre-release marking process (cover art, advance review copies, blurbs etc.), and the writer is working on book C or even D. Some writers work slower, others faster, especially if it's their only source of income.

    Terry
     
  15. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Yeah I agree, I think there WILL be a point where I know for sure it's finished. Because I've already gotten some of it feeling that way there are just certain parts that don't "feel right" yet.

    Thanks for all the replies. :D
     

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