How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Post Reply
User avatar
gonzo2802
Posts: 105
Joined: March 8th, 2010, 5:33 pm
Contact:

How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by gonzo2802 » March 29th, 2010, 12:05 pm

Question for you guys. How the heck do you know when you're truly done with revising your manuscripts?

I wrote mine late last summer. I revised several times over the winter. Believed I was ready to query in February. And on my own, in March, realized I still needed to do at least one more real buff job to the manuscript before I started querying again. (I think I'm really using it as a reason to put off working on my query pitch some more, but that's another story for another post)

Anyway, my point is. I seriously thought I was done a while ago with the revisions on this ms. I wasn't one of those people who was quick to rush her rough draft out the door, or anything like that. But in the past two months I've learned so many new tricks and tips for making it even tighter that I'm kind of glad I didn't push on with querying just yet.

But what I don't want to have happen is to finish with this one and do it again ... and again ... and again. I don't want to be one of those writers who falls into the hamster wheel of revisions. So, for those of you querying and following up on your partial and full submission requests, how did you know you were finally ready to put that puppy out there? Or, have you just sent it out there and continue to revise it anyway?

The other story I'm working on is getting highly annoyed at being placed on the back-burner while I tinker with this one so much, it's threatening to leave me if I don't seek help.

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by dios4vida » March 29th, 2010, 12:14 pm

My revising system is a little weird, but it helps me a lot.

Novel finished. I print it out and put it in a three-ring binder.

I edit old school style, complete with red pen and editorital marks. Things that need a lot of work or I just don't know how to fix get flagged with any notes I may have about what needs to be done.

When that's done, I go back to my computer and input the edits. I fix the easy stuff and anything else I find as I go. The flags get comment bubbles.

Once easy stuff is done, I go back to the flags and figure them out one by one. This is where I currently am in my second ms, and it takes forever <sigh>.

One more read-through to make sure everything looks okay. Then it goes to my beta reader. She gives me her input, and I go through (again) making any changes.

Then we go through it together with her reading it aloud and me following along. We brainstorm about any remaining problems, etc.

Then I finally feel comfortable (as comfortable as once can feel!) sending it to queryland.

So that's three edits alone, and two with my beta reader. It seems like a lot sometimes but we always find more things to fix.

Hope you find your comfort zone!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by Quill » March 29th, 2010, 1:01 pm

It is said that no book is ever done, it is simply abandoned.

That said, one must make it as good as it can be, for it to have a chance of success in the publishing world.

It is important that it remain fresh, whatever that takes. This is the guideline for determining if one is overworking it. Setting it aside can help.

I took one of my first long works to 12 drafts (then self-published it) and still thought it could have used a couple more.

A famous writer once told me that almost every book out there could have used another draft.

As for my current WIP, which I think has every chance of being my breakthrough into print, I believe others will tell me when I am finished. Others being beta, agent, and editor.

User avatar
Ryan
Posts: 205
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:25 pm
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by Ryan » March 29th, 2010, 3:44 pm

After reading your post it doesn't sound like you've had someone else read through it. Check into a local editor. I had a "reader's response" done by a local editing service and it was awesome. I got seven pages of chapter by chapter notes. What needs tightening, good stuff, and not so good stuff. I hired the woman again to help restructure the first four chapters. I think I spent in the neighborhood of $600 for both services. Not bad considering how much of our own time and energy we put into our manuscripts.

Not sure where you are located but here's the link. http://www.indigoediting.com/services.html. Ali was the one who I worked with. She really does her job and won't sugar coat anything. A friend used her after me and was pretty upset when she basically told him that the project needed a ton of work.

A cold read by someone who doesn't know you and one who has a trained eye can really help.

Best to have it in top shape for those requests. Good luck!

Ryan
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/


User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by wilderness » March 29th, 2010, 4:18 pm

I like the blog post above - those are great indicators that you've revised your novel to death. But I think the feedback bit is important too. You don't have to post it online. Stephen King in "On Writing" recommends having about 6 people you know and trust read it.

In my experience, some people will be too polite, just giving cheerleader words "It's great. You'll be a bestseller in no time!" Others might be overly critical, focusing on things they would do differently, or they might not really "get" your book or be interested in the genre you're writing.

With 6 readers I think you can get a feel for what needs work.

Once you feel it's ready, you can also query in batches. Get some feedback from agents.
If you aren't getting any requests for partials, your query needs work.
If you are getting requests for partials, but no fulls, you might consider another revision. Some agents might actually say that it doesn't feel polished enough, others might just say they "didn't love it". I think the latter means you're close but maybe some added depth would swing them over.

Chances are that when someone reads your full, they will have suggestions. If you get a book deal, the editor might have suggestions. So who knows when you'll be truly DONE. :)

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by Quill » March 29th, 2010, 5:04 pm

Ryan wrote:Not sure where you are located but here's the link. http://www.indigoediting.com/services.html. Ali was the one who I worked with. She really does her job and won't sugar coat anything. A friend used her after me and was pretty upset when she basically told him that the project needed a ton of work.
Yeah, I do plan on hiring a freelance editor when my Ms is ready.

Clicked on your link, and the outfit looks good. Scrolling through the staff I was surprised to see a lady I knew when she lived here in Arizona. She was writing, not editing then. I knew she had moved to Oregon a couple years ago, but that was too funny.

Krista G.
Posts: 192
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 4:47 pm
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by Krista G. » March 29th, 2010, 5:41 pm

Ryan wrote:After reading your post it doesn't sound like you've had someone else read through it. Check into a local editor. I had a "reader's response" done by a local editing service and it was awesome. I got seven pages of chapter by chapter notes. What needs tightening, good stuff, and not so good stuff. I hired the woman again to help restructure the first four chapters. I think I spent in the neighborhood of $600 for both services. Not bad considering how much of our own time and energy we put into our manuscripts.

Not sure where you are located but here's the link. http://www.indigoediting.com/services.html. Ali was the one who I worked with. She really does her job and won't sugar coat anything. A friend used her after me and was pretty upset when she basically told him that the project needed a ton of work.

A cold read by someone who doesn't know you and one who has a trained eye can really help.

Best to have it in top shape for those requests. Good luck!

Ryan
I'm going to agree with Ryan and say you could try finding someone else - or a few someone elses - to read through it. That said, I don't think you need to pay for such services. The blogosphere is awash with great writers (I'm sure you already have a few good writer friends, since you blog), a lot of whom are probably looking for a few good beta readers, too.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

User avatar
gonzo2802
Posts: 105
Joined: March 8th, 2010, 5:33 pm
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by gonzo2802 » March 29th, 2010, 10:11 pm

Thanks Nathan for the link ... that post of Jenn's is getting close to where I am, so that helped a lot!

To everyone else. Thanks for all the other suggestions too. I've had an eclectic group of betas read the ms, and I've gotten tremendous feedback on the story. I have zero doubt that the story line flows nicely and there aren't any plot holes, or things of that nature.

I went through before and got rid of all the unnecessary passages, etc .... My problem is worrying that I might be starting to mess with sentences that don't need to be messed with anymore. You can give me a handful of words and tell me to put them in a sentence and I'll come up with a dozen different sentences, and continue to change my mind about which one I like best.

I think I might just be at the over-thinking phase now.

User avatar
aspiring_x
Posts: 210
Joined: January 15th, 2010, 9:44 am
Location: Marysville, Kansas
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by aspiring_x » March 30th, 2010, 12:23 am

gonzo2802 wrote:Thanks Nathan for the link ... that post of Jenn's is getting close to where I am, so that helped a lot!

To everyone else. Thanks for all the other suggestions too. I've had an eclectic group of betas read the ms, and I've gotten tremendous feedback on the story. I have zero doubt that the story line flows nicely and there aren't any plot holes, or things of that nature.

I went through before and got rid of all the unnecessary passages, etc .... My problem is worrying that I might be starting to mess with sentences that don't need to be messed with anymore. You can give me a handful of words and tell me to put them in a sentence and I'll come up with a dozen different sentences, and continue to change my mind about which one I like best.

I think I might just be at the over-thinking phase now.
sounds to me you might be ready for the querying phase on the one, and past due on the rough draft phase on the impatient second child...

kristi
Posts: 81
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 11:40 pm
Contact:

Re: How Do You Know When You're REALLY Done?

Post by kristi » March 30th, 2010, 10:40 am

When the book gets you an agent and is then sold to a publisher. Seriously, I don't know if something is ever completely finished because you can always find a word or sentence to fix. I rely a lot on my critique groups. I think I'm about finished with my current ms but I'm waiting to query until my group reads my latest revision. I'm very aware that I'll have plenty more revisions to do once I get an agent and even more once I have an editor, so at some point, you just have to take a deep breath and jump in to the query process. Good luck! :)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest