Friday, February 28, 2014

How do you know when you're done editing?

If you're like most writers, you write a first draft, revise, edit, edit, edit ...

A recent discussion had me considering how I knew when I was done.
Because in one sense, I'm never done.I'm learning all the time, and nothing I write is perfect, or even close to it. But at some point, like any parent, I have to let go of my baby and send it out into the world. So how do I decide?

Well, there's the process: write, revise, edit. I write, set my work-in-progress aside for a couple of weeks or so, then revise it. A lot or a little, depending. I get a few trusted readers to read the result and I consider what they've said, then I most likely make more changes. Then I edit, check for wording etc. Get another reader or two to check it over.

I'm working on a novel right now that is getting close to completion, and I had a brainwave when reading over the latest version. I actually *like* it. I like my main character. I enjoy reading this draft. I couldn't say the same about the earlier versions.

And then it hit me. This is when I'm close to done with my novel. When I start to enjoy it. When I like what I read.

How about you all? When do you know you're done?


  1. Dear Margaret,
    What an uplifting post! You're right. Letting a manuscript rest awhile between edits is good. That's when your eyes see things they missed in earlier edits.

    It's great when you get to the point when you really like what you've written and are happy with all the components. That's a great time to submit your work! Find the publisher or agent and send that "puppy" off!

    Never Give Up

  2. Joan, I've sent the MS to a couple of beta readers -- and after that, I do intend to send it off.

  3. Wonderful post. Good luck with your story. I would never be done with a manuscript. Every time I read it I find something to change. Happily, that magic moment arrives when I think the story is pretty good and maybe I should stop. So I do. :)

  4. Beverly, yes, it's hard to let go of our precious "children." Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Love this post, Margaret. I'm done when it's gone through my wonderful critique group, I've made those changes, then I've edited twice more: once for content and once for grammar. After that, I simply have to let it fly and hope for the best.

  6. Good thoughts, Margaret. Quite a benchmark, when we start liking what we write. I have a hard time ever getting it "perfect" enough, but at sometime or other, I have to stop, submit, & let go.

  7. Cheryl, glad to hear you have a system. Janet, how do you decide when it's ready to submit?

  8. Margaret, what a great way to determine when your manuscript is just about ready, after you've edited and revised, when you actually like it. That's pretty much how I gauge my stories also.