Thursday, July 28, 2011

Too Much Editing?

     How much editing is too much editing? That's my question for today (and for, well, all-time).
     I've lost count of how many times I've edited Daze and Knights. I'm not regretting the edits. I know my MS has just gotten stronger and stronger each time. But I worry about getting to that point where I've completely edited myself out of it. Or edited the voice out. Or edited those sentences that are my way of saying things.
     Agents want your MS to be squeaky clean. I get that. They don't want you to tell them it still might need edits. I totally get that- why anyone would point that out in their query is beyond me. But how do you know when it is squeaky clean? Do writers actually reach that point, that moment? Do they have that thought of, "I've done all I could, it's the best I can make it, now it needs to prove itself out in the world"?
     I don't think I've ever had that thought. No correction. I've had that thought after each and every edit. And then I go back and there's always more to fix. I can't help but think there will always be more to fix. So how do you stop editing? What makes you stop editing that MS for the last time?
     What do you other writers out there think of this? Because I'm thinking this time (like every other time before) that this edit will be the last one. That I will query again for a bit and if I get nowhere than the book will be shelved for good. Or at least ten years or so. But I know, deep-down, that I could edit it again in the hopes that one more edit might do the trick.
     So how much editing is too much? When do you stop? When do you say, I've done enough?


  1. I wish I knew. When every last speck of joy has gone from the process? When you honestly don't know what else to do? When it's in print? I'm gonna try following my gut, listening to my heart, or whatever you want to call instinct. I'll let you know if it works.

  2. With editing, I think it's always better to do more because the more you rewrite the more chances you have to improve the storyline.
    Also, rad blog, really like the style:)

  3. This is my concern too. I think I've edited the life out of my story. *sigh* The thing is that a good agent/editor also knows the market and may suggest revisions/edits anyway no matter how squeaky clean we've made it.

    I think at some point we are just going to have to walk away. I just hope I know that moment when it arrives.

  4. It's a hard question to answer because I felt like I edited my first book to DEATH, but now that I'm a WAY better writer? I want to take the story and re-write it because it would be easier. And it's not that there's anything specifically WRONG, it's just that it could be better.

    When you're at the point where you think you've edited to death. Either set it aside for 2-4 weeks OR find a crit person who you DON'T KNOW.
    Ask them to look over a couple chapters for you.

    Once you have a few books under your belt - you'll come up with a system.

    I've read my MS about ten-twenty times.
    Read aloud to my husband.
    Send it to reader one.
    Make corrections, fill in blanks.
    Send to reader two - do the same
    Read out loud to myself (because the poor husband doesn't need that anymore)
    Send it to another person I know.
    IF I'm unsure at this point, I can still send it to my agent. IF I didn't have an agent, this is where I'd find someone I didn't know. Now that I"m comfortable with the story and am maybe not swayed by every little comment - and see what someone has to say that doesn't know me. I'm VERY leery about comments from people I don't know. They tend to be meaner, and I tend to not trust what they have to say, but it can be another starting place.

    Wow. That was a mouthful!!
    Good luck!

  5. To answer that question--nope. Even established authors have talked about picking up one of their books and wishing they could change this or that. Do what you feel is best for the story, but I do think more than three full MS edits is too much. Give agents and editors a chance at that point.

    Good luck to your edits! Glad I found your blog. :)