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When do you know when to stop revising?
Suzan Isik
Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 2:05 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 13

I've been working on this novella for over a year now. Okay, so I let it gather dust for about nine months of that time but now I'm revising it and getting it ready for submission.

I'm to the point where I'm starting to hate this story. I think it sucks, and it's got bad grammar and awkward phrasing and I want to just hit delete. My CP says that's how you know it's ready: when you're so sick of it you could puke.

How do you know when your story is ready for submission? When is the point where you just say "Okay, it's good to go?" Is there ever a point where that happens? Because I haven't found it yet.

EDIT: And I just realized after I posted this that there's another thread about this. I need more coffee this morning.

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011 8:48 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 216

If I knew the answer to that question for 100 percent sure, I’d tell you. I wish there were a hard fast rule for this, but … (sigh).

One thing that I did not do, thankfully, was to revise without getting input from readers (such as those here at Book Country) first. I also entered contests, where I got even more valuable input from published authors and agents. Some of the judges were nice enough to give me line edits. (!!!) It gave me a good idea of my strengths and weaknesses – and I also got some wonderful ideas on how to handle Chapter One.

I don’t know if I’ll cap the revisions off after two passes, or if I’ll give it a brief third pass or not. It all depends on what I decide to do with the novel – if I intend to go traditional route or other.

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011 9:27 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

I took a look at your profile & realized you list the editor for my first two mystery novels as one of your favorite authors - Michelle Bardsley. She worked editing before she started selling so well.

If you've been working with a critique partner and she's saying it time to submit, she's probably right. When you hit that "I can't stand working on this story" point, you're probably too close to make effective changes anyway. So give it that final polish and send it out to a few places and see what feedback you get. I've found that the feedback I get from publishers and agents is often very different from what I see on critique groups, so even if the work isn't accepted right away, you can get a clearer view on where it stands from a publishers perspective. Besides it gives you breathing room to work on something else.
Suzan Isik
Posted: Saturday, June 4, 2011 4:29 AM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 13

Michelle is awesome. I love her to pieces. She's so fun.

Revisions are my hardest thing. I can whip out a draft of a novel in a month, but actually reworking and revising it into something GOOD has no clear cut end like zero drafting does. There's no The End to tell you that you're done. So, the line is much blurrier.
Posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014 1:32 PM

I have written books, re-written them, shopped them around, and then re-written them some more.


Honestly, you're done re-writing when the book is published, if then.


Your one voice trying to be heard over a zillion other voices.


There's an exam and training to complete if you want to be a MD,. firefighter, collect garbage ....


If you want to write novel there are an infinite number of Books of Rules, and boy you sure better love telling stories, because this sure has nothing to to do with getting rich.

Marie Flint
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 7:01 AM
Joined: 5/5/2014
Posts: 2

Revisions? I probably don't qualify to answer this because I have never published a book. I do write short articles, however.


One professor in college once asked me, "Why bother revising?" (Assuming grammar and spelling are all right.)


Another rule is to let the work sit a day or two before looking at it with editor's eyes. It's sounds as if you have done this because of the "dust" it collected.


Frankly, I'm sorry that you hate your book. I suppose that attitude is similar to what an actor feels after performing a theatrical play for the umpteenth time. You just get tired of it.


It would probably be good to have at least one other set of eyes read it for an opinion (not necessarily a critique).


I myself probably critique too much because my focus tends to be on grammar and mechanics. This kind of focus works better for nonfiction, rather than fiction and creative writing.


I wish you every success on your publishing process. --Marie, JAX FL

Jay Greenstein
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 1:17 AM

Well if you think it sucks you can't expect a reader to feel anything different.


You have nothing posted, so no one can give you an opinion on the writing. So let's look at you, or at least give you something to look at.


First: What makes you better suited to write the story than your neighbor? Do you have a better knowledge of fiction writing technique because of study or mentoring? Do you know the protagonist's profession better? Is your understanding of the nuance of POV deeper?


Do you understand the business side of writing for publication, and the filters that the publisher will apply when evaluating your work?


I'm not asking you to answer the questions here, but to ask yourself, to see if there are areas where you might better prepare yourself for making that judgement. You might browse a bit in the writing section of my blog. It's pretty basic and meant to give the flavor of the major issues. If what you see there prompts, 'I didn't know that," you might want to do a little digging into the craft, because the more you know about the process the more options you have when writing

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Saturday, July 5, 2014 12:28 AM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195

Suzan.   The point at which you stop revising is when you're just moving the ornaments around on the mantelpiece fixed the problems, you spell-checked at least four times, and...the reason you're still just moving a word here and a word there is you're afraid to send it out.


Send it out.  Once you've fixed design problems, structural problems, and "finish" problems (the typos, the continuity errors, etc.)  you're done.  Sure, read it aloud one more time, and fix anything that sticks out...but if you're at the point of hating it because you're sick of just moving the ornaments back and forth...get rid of it and start something new.  Maybe it'll sell; maybe it won't, but it will be out of your hair and you can go on to the next.  Detaching from a finished work (not perfect--just finished) and going on to the next...and then repeating that sequence again and again--will do more for your writing than ornament-arrangement on the first one.