Notes from the Revision Wars–Epiphany #337

This is what I thought my draft looked like before I started revising. I thought every work counted. That every scene was as streamlined as it could be. That the manuscript couldn’t be tightened.

This is what it actually looked like. Way too many words. Some did very little. Some nothing. Throw away words and sentences. Even scenes. Gasp. I’ve cut 2000 words and I’m only on p.140.

Epiphany #337

You are only as good as your critiquers, your writing classes and your self-editing classes. If your critiquers all say your work is good. Maybe it is. Maybe it is ready. You can query it.

But after several rejections, maybe you might want to find someone with more experience to weigh in. I’m not saying hire an editor, but maybe ask a pubbed friend to look at the first chapter. Because whatever mistakes you made there, you made throughout the whole book. And the fat you didn’t trim away there is everywhere else.

I’m guilty of it. Every time I come back to a manuscript I thought was amazing, I am slammed by new issues. *Doink* I thought this was good? *Gasps and blushes* How did I miss this?

I’ve heard people say writers never finish books, they abandon them. But I’m wondering when will I know to let it go.
How do you ever know that a manuscript is ready?

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12 Responses to Notes from the Revision Wars–Epiphany #337

  1. Jenny says:

    I am still struggling with that question. I’m always finding things to revise, make better, tighten and polish. At some point you just have to say enough and let it go. I have found there is such a thing as over-revising.

    • Jenny, I try to do a round of revisions and then query for several months. This manuscript has been workshopped and requested often, but not agented. I think I’ll give it one more revision and query and then move on to the next one. When I reach the point where I’ve taken and put back the same thing several times, I know I’m at my revision limit (at least for that round)–that’s when I’ve hit over-revising. 🙂

  2. crubin says:

    It seems there’s always a change we can make, no matter how many times we’ve been through a manuscript. Most of them are likely needed, but sometimes I need to remind myself of one of my favorite sayings, derived from a Voltaire quote: “Perfectionism is the enemy of done”. I really need to practice this more 🙂

    Loved your analogy using the photos!

    • So true Carrie. 🙂 My problem is every time I think I’m done, an agent requests it and rejects it. Which makes me wonder am I done? Or is this book just not sellable? The last agent gave me great feedback and offered to let me resubmit after revisions so I’m hoping this is the last revision for a while. *Fingers crossed.*

      LOL, I dug up that picture for Thursday’s post and realized how well it applied to Friday’s too. 🙂

      • crubin says:

        An agent giving feedback is always a good sign. Much better than the dreaded, “it’s just not what we’re looking for.” Good luck!

        • Very true Carrie. 🙂 But I’ve been getting agent feedback for a while on this manuscript. And every time I think I’ve revised away the issues, an agent will point to another issue. Feels like I’m on a query carousel and I’m never getting off.

          But I’m hoping one of these revisions gets me to the point where it is good enough to get an agent. 🙂

  3. Ugh, I am right there with you. I had a brutal revision session yesterday… This one scene was much messier than I remembered, and I spent over an hour trying to fix a grand total of two paragraphs. It set me back from my daily goal by about ten pages. I kept thinking, “Why in the world have I not fixed this already?! This was supposed to be a QUICK revision!” Then again, I’ve been editing this story nonstop for over a year, so you’d think I’d know by now… Quick revisions are NEVER quick. Especially when line edits are involved. Agh.

    Still, we will get there eventually! I know we will. 🙂 (On a related note, I’m looking forward to reading more of your story this weekend. I noticed a few of the changes you made, and I can tell you have great instincts as an editor.)

    • It’s always the quick revision that derails me. 🙂 I set aside 6-8 weeks to revise the entire book and then do one round of quick edits. I got bogged down in the beginning. It took way longer because entire pages were redrafted. For every scene I cut, something had to be added. And I kept thinking, I sent this to an agent? And she is allowing me to revise? That woman is a goddess. 🙂

      OMG, the “Why in the world have I not fixed this already?! question hits me every ten minutes as I edit. It’s followed by, “Was I this bad of a writer? How could I send something like this out to agents? How could I think it was good?! *Smacks head with hand*

      I’m really happy we are working on revisions together. I’ve been reading a chapter a day of your book. I love love love the premise. It’s soooooo enticing.

      Aw thanks, I really tried to listen to what people said and incorporate it. The hardest part isn’t hearing the critique (though it feels like it), but understanding and implementing changed. I’d gotten requests with the previous pages so they didn’t suck, but I figured I’d try something new. Hopefully it makes for a better book. 🙂

  4. It's the little things that make life great.berry says:

    I don’t know. Maybe never.

  5. Emmie Mears says:

    I chopped about 20,000 words from my WIP last month. I am on the first round of querying and got the first form rejection…from my first agent crush. But it’s cool — I didn’t expect anything from her really. 🙂

    I reckon I will query this one till summer and if nothing happens, revise and try again while working on my new book (totally new project). Then it’ll start over again. 🙂

    • Emmie, that’s awesome! Congrats on the word count. Cold querying is rough, I get so many form rejections, when I even get a rejection. Some agents have adopted the no response=no. Not sure how I feel about that. I think it would be cool if they had an automated response to queries that told me the query was received. But I usually consider it dead if I don’t hear back in 2-3 months.

      There are so many great agents out there. I know you will find the perfect one for your story and you.
      Sometimes the rejections don’t sting and sometimes they pile up and bury me. Right now, I’m going with it. 🙂

      Great plan! I usually set a limit of 6 months or 50 queries, then I switch to another story and let that other one breathe. It gives me perspective. Every time I come back to a manuscript after 4-6 months, I’m shocked by how much better my writing is and how much revision that old manuscript needs.

      I have a story half drafted that I plan to get back to in April. But an agent came back to me on my YA book and asked for revisions on the full and a resubmit so I want to focus on that right now. Hoping maybe she’ll like it when I get it to her in the end of March.

      I love your attitude! Keep going and trying. That’s all we can do. 🙂

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