Monday, November 29, 2010

How Do You Know?

Okay, so I am singing the song "How Does She Know?" from Enchanted as I type this blog post. I hope it infects you for the rest of the day, just cuz I'm cruel like that. *mwa ha ha!*

Anyway, being deep in the trenches of editing/revising my next novel, I'm sort of wondering: How do I know when this bad boy is done? How will I know when I should send it to my betas?

I mean, I know they're going to send it back to me without a single mark, praising my every word! *snarf* Riiiight.

So when do *I* stop??

For me, this has always been a gut thing. Plus, if I'm reading my own book (where, supposedly, I know everything and why that one sentence is there and how it's setting up that freakishly cool thing on page 323), and I have to make notes of what's wrong, then, newsflash, it's not ready.

#Dangitall.

My book still isn't ready.

Now, if you're simply going around and around in circles between the words "slid" and "slithered" then you probably need to put down the red pen and step away. Just sayin'.

So how do you know when you've done all you can do? Gut feeling? Set round of edits? Lay it on me. I'm on round 6, I think.

And the pen is red this time.

72 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

I guess I know when I'm done when all I'm doing is changing single words in sentences. That's the cue to stop and 'get over myself'. You can't make every sentence PERFECT. Ever. Because nothing is ever perfect.

Anne said...

I'm still trying to figure that one out. Good luck in the trenches!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I don't know if it's ever done. But if you feel the major plot and character development are there, perhaps it's time to let your betas read it.

Jemi Fraser said...

I struggle with this. I thought my steampunk was done, but I've since realized that ignoring a plot problem doesn't help it get fixed. *sigh*

Christine Danek said...

I wish I knew the answer. I'm still figuring this one out.
Have a great day!

Candyland said...

I'll never stop. Ever. I'll always find something to change so at some point I just send it anyway and wait. LOVE the new layout!

Theresa Milstein said...

For me, it's a gut feeling. When I'm down to changing subtle things, but no big scene changes/overhauls. Then I send it to one reader and get feedback. After that, another. I aim for three. If it seems like the comments have lessened, then I think it's ready for submission.

Of course, I'm not published so maybe this isn't the best way.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I missed your posts.

Gail said...

No advice from me, I am not an author, just a wannabe.

I will say, just from my heart, you will know when it is ready, after all, it is your child.

Yvonne Osborne said...

I know it's down when I've gone through the whole thing and only made minor changes. Then it's done, or as good as I can get it.

I love your blog's new look.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh, no! Now the song is stuck in my head. But that's okay, I'm sure my kids will be sing a Lady Gaga or Katie Perry song once they get up. It's now a game for them. ;)

salarsenッ said...

I tend to agree with you. When it comes down to single word choices that don't necessary affect plot, etc...Yeah, it's ready.

Susanne Winnacker said...

Fortunately I've great crit partners who help me tremendously and don't mind to read earlier drafts. They help deciding if something's ready or not.
Btw, I love the new design of your blog!

Jen Daiker said...

I wish I could sit here and tell you I know the end all be all answer to knowing when you're done but I don't know the first thing about the feeling of when revisions are done. Probably because I'm still sitting in that rough spot.

Good luck! 6 is a lucky number (i think)!

Jen Daiker said...

BTW - The new layout is gorgeous! I'm a fan :)

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Done! Who said it could REALLY be done? Ok, I'm still working on that ;)

Love the new look!

And um thanks all I can picture is McDreamy dancing around with birds lol. Yup that is when you know you have seen it many times over lol.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I only go through about twice.

Love the header.

Visions of Enchanted in my head thanks to you. ;)
~ Wendy

VR Barkowski said...

When it's published. Before then, all bets are off. What's done one day may scream to be tweaked a couple of weeks later, so I tweak.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Looks great around here!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I know I'm done when I've gone as far with a book as I can by myself. It's not a set number of anything. It's just a feeling that I can no longer be objective and I need another set of eyes.

Good luck with your round 6 and have fun with the red pen. I love the red-ink phase when I print the pages and make them bleed. (I know, eww.)

lynnrush said...

It's a gut feeling for me. My agent helps with that gut feeling, too, along with a couple crit buddies. :)

Mary Lindsey said...

I've no idea. Every book is different for me. Congrats on completing another one! Best of luck with the revisions.

Megan said...

The new site design threw me for a minute, but I love it.

I think it's a combination of gut and getting to the point where there's not really anything more you can find to change. There will always be doubts, but there comes a time when you need to set them aside and trust yourself that it's as good as you can get it.

Amie B said...

like the majority of other comments, i don't know! that's why we're at your blog - hoping you have some divine revelation for us and we'll all be better writers because you told us so! :P

Tracy said...

I feel I'm done when I can upload my manuscript onto my Nook and read it through without making notes about what I need to change. When I edit in Word, I'll dally over single word choices, but when it's in "e-book format" and I see that most all of it flows, I know I'm pretty much there.

Rachel Morgan said...

Um... I'm not done yet, so I can't help!

But what I really wanted to say was, Wow! This is the first time I've seen the new look of your blog, and I like it :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I work until my pefectionist brain can't handle it anymore and then it goes to the test readers. (Who in turn provide proof that I really wasn't done!)

Andrea Mack said...

This is a tough one. I have some manuscripts I've stuck in a drawer, thinking they were ready. But I could easily pull them out and do another round of revisions.

Liza said...

I'm only on round two. I have no idea how I'll know, but I'm guessing I am many rounds away!

Em-Musing said...

First, I love your new blog look. No wait - your new block looks fantastic! No wait - The colors of your new blog are like a... No wait - pretty are the colors of your of your blog. No wait - overwhelmingly gorgeous is your... :0 I've never learned to stop editing!

Jamie Grey said...

Ugh-my problem is that I'll think I'm almost done and my crit partners will get it and tear it apart. Mostly plot though - I give them a pretty clean ms grammar and punctuation wise.

But, it's a pretty good bet after they've gone through it and I've made changes I'll know in my gut when it's ready. Usually it's when I've read it for the millionth time and can't stand it any more :)

marissameyer said...

I usually send to my first round of betas when I feel like I have the plot and characters nailed down, but before I start worrying about sentence structure and pretty metaphors. That way, if my betas have a concern over those big picture items (as they inevitably do), I won't have spent too much time polishing stuff that has to be changed or scrapped completely.

For my second round of betas, I know it's ready to send off when I honestly feel I can't do any better.

Meredith said...

LOVE the new design! So exciting :) Saying that I'm done with revisions is always a gut thing for me, too. If I have any doubts at all, then I know I'm not done yet.

Stephanie McGee said...

It's a gut thing. With my last book, I knew that I needed feedback on certain big elements before I could really dig into revisions. So I took that first draft and polished it up a bit. I read through and fixed some things (eliminating adverbs and such), tweaked some different passages and what have you. But draft 3 is largely the same as draft 2 (which was the first full draft).

It's with a beta right now and once I get that feedback, I can really dig into revisions. I've had some feedback on other parts of the draft, but this will be the first full beta crit of the book.

Laurel Garver said...

Whenever I've fixed a manuscript as far as I can and only seem to be "rearranging the furniture" so to speak, I know I need outside opinions. Off to the CPs it goes.

Love the new look!

LTM said...

I never feel completely satisfied, but I know from past editorial experience that there comes a point when you have to "let it go."

Usually it helps when an outsider tells you that. :D Best of luck~ <3

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have discovered it's a combo of me and my CP's. When ((I)) think it's ready, I ship it for one final (he he) look-see. If it clears, woo-hoo! If it doesn't...red pen again. :-)

Michelle McLean said...

That's about how I know...when I've gone through and all I'm changing is a comma here or a word or two there, I send it off.

Tina Lynn said...

*snort* I know it's NOT ready because I just finished it yesterday. To be honest, I don't think I've had that gut feeling yet. What does that say about me as a writer?

Rebecca said...

My books have several stages of "readiness."

I will usually let my first test readers (my teenage daughters) read it once it's a first draft, unless there is something glaringly obvious that I need to fix first.

I get their feedback and then I wait a while (as long as I can stand to) and go back to do rereading and revising and rewriting until my gut says it's ready again.

My next readers are fellow authors. At least two.

Wait. Revise. Repeat as necessary until my gut tells me it's ready for querying/submitting.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I don't have a set number of times to go through the story. I just go through again and again and again until I start to change things back to what they had been. That's when I know to step away.

Sara B. Larson said...

I do follow that gut feeling. Also, when I feel like there's nothing more I can do (without running in circles) until I get a fresh set of eyes, I bite the bullet and send it out. Good luck!

Carol Kilgore said...

Gut feeling for me, too. I'm not there yet either. Sigh.

ali said...

ROFL!

Done?

What's this DONE of which you speak?

Jennie Englund said...

This new look is elegant and lovely!

Wow -- congrats on the almost-done-ness of Book 2!

Do you have a good writing group?

I run a lot by them: plot, synopsis, chapters...

But I agree: "slid" and "slithered" means it's time for a little break!

kellyhashway said...

Before I send my MS to my crit group, I go through it several times. I revise first for overall flow--this is a quick read through where I mark problem areas. Then I go back and fix them. Then I go through thoroughly for voice, making sure each character's voice is distinctly their own. Then I go back and read for everything that isn't necessary--any phrases that aren't moving things forward, adverbs (ick!), prepositional phrases, etc. I also strengthen my verbs and search for "be" verbs to get rid of. Then I go through line by line and question my word choice. After that I'm spent and I need my critique partners to put a fresh pair of eyes on the manuscript.

Heather said...

I love the new look, very pretty! As for edits, I have a set round of edits, five in all. It's a pretty rigid system I designed to help me catch everything from plot holes and character development issues to too many adverbs! But like you said, then my betas always catch more. ;)

Holly Ruggiero said...

Oooo, it's so purty round here...
I don't know when it's done, but I know it's not done when like you said I keep finding errors.

Colene Murphy said...

Good advice. It really is hard to know when you're done, I suspect. I will let you know when/if I ever get to that "done" place you refer to.

I LOVE your new layout too BTW.

Good luck finishing up!

Nicole L Rivera said...

Not a stinking clue. But I'd be interested to know what everyone else thinks.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

It's a gut thing, all the way. I knew when I wrote CINDERS that it was time to get something out there. It was a scary feeling, but a good feeling. I'd never felt that way about anything else up to that point.

Emily White said...

I love the new look!

I run into the problem of sending out my book BEFORE I should. Problems betas point out are things I bit my nails over, hoping they wouldn't notice. I'm still working to get past this and ONLY send it out when it's ready.

Krispy said...

Oh, new layout! Very nice!

As to your question, I have no idea.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Hm...see, I'll send pages off to CPs/Betas for two reasons, so my method might be weird.

For one thing, I usually send the "first round" chapter by chapter, that way if I've made a huge flub I can fix it before they spend hours marking it over and over in the draft. But I tend to send off a chapter when:

a) I actually kinda like it (which is my gut telling me it might be close--I usually don't *like* my writing at first)

b) I DON'T like it, but can't figure out what's wrong with it no matter how many times I reread (those emails are usually titled "HELP!)

Ironically, either way I tend to get the same amount of notes, so it just goes to show how little I know about when my writing is done. So yeah...maybe don't listen to me. :)

Carol Riggs said...

Yup, gut feeling covers it, but it's the same as when I know I'm done with a drawing or painting. When sections or areas of it don't "bother" me, and I'm down to the fiddly picky stuff which other people may or may not notice. It's still IMPERATIVE to show it to beta readers, I've found, because they always catch stuff I've never even dreamed of!

The Golden Eagle said...

I've never heard the song "How Does She Know?" so I'm afraid you can't infect me. :D

I'd say gut feeling. The gut is surprisingly dependable.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Ack! I wish I knew when my wip's are ready, but I go with the gut thing as well.

Love the new layout!

Shari said...

I was kinda hoping you'd tell me, 'cause I don't really have a clue.

L.T. Elliot said...

Ooh! The new site looks AWESOME! Way to go, Elana! I love it!

I'm one of those who the "done" gets blurry. Which just sounds like terrible grammar but I'm leaving it. I guess I'm "done" with that comment. ;) Hooray! I know *something,* at least!

Madeleine said...

Put it away for a few weeks, then re-read it and if it still sounds good to you, then you're done :O)

Melanie said...

I know I'm done when I start dong the very last thing you mentioned. Fixing/changing tiny words here and there. Then I know I"m getting knit picky and those minor things are not going to change the story.

Joanna St. James said...

love the new blog skin, as for being done I honestly don't have a clue, I always have serious doubts after I send it to the editor.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss elana! for me it like baking up some yummilicious cookies. you could just know when there done. if you keep cooking them for sure there gonna get burnt and smell yucky and taste like char coal cookies. ack!
...hugs from lenny

Julie Musil said...

Your advice sounds right on to me. I've heard that if you're just tinkering, then it's done. Oh, and I love the new look of the blog!

Kelly said...

So did you choose slid or slithered?

I do believe it is never truly "done" but I do think you will have a gut feeling when it is ready to submit.

LReneeS said...

Hey Elana,
With large projects I continue editing until I literally have someone tell me to stop. I'm waiting for the day my letter comes and an agent says, "Yes, this is what we want to represent". Then --and only then-- I will know I can stop editing. Or will I really be able to stop them? Oh well, who knows. Perhaps it's like Kelly said... You're never really done.

--Lindsey

Liesl said...

I seek beta readers, not necessarily when I think it's perfect, but when I don't know how to fix the problems anymore or when I'm incapable of pin-pointing what the problems actually are. That's when I need another set of eyes, or several.

dellgirl said...

Nice post and, the comments are wonderful. Good luck to you and I hope it goes well for you.

I just wanted to say hello. I hope you have a terrific Week!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Sadly, I have no idea yet (lol), as I am still working toward finishing and not yet revising.

So excited for you, though, I love following your journey. Beautiful new website design!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

When I'm down to micro things and I have that gut feeling that I've done absolutely everything I can do.

Julie Wright said...

When I'm down to comma placement. I'm editing a book right now and it's mostly about the comma, which means it's time to let go and move on. :)

Ishta Mercurio said...

What you said: if I can still see what's wrong with it, it's not ready. But when I either a) think it's perfect (knowing that they will mark it up anyway) or b) know it's screwy but can't figure out why, I send it.

You're a lot smarter than you think, you know.

Claire Dawn said...

I'm totally addicted to that song in Italian "Dille che l'ami"

lol. :)

I don't know yet, because I haven't reached that stage.

Some day!

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