Doing The Story Justice

Some time ago, I realized writers spend more time editing and revising than we do laying out the initial story. That’s no surprise to those of you who have been at this a few years. If you’re just starting out, well, now you know.

Finishing the first draft is an incredible feeling. Wow. I wrote a novel. Woo hoo! Happy dances and high fives all around.

I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble who hasn’t gotten there yet. By all means, celebrate when you do. But now’s when the real work begins.

The REAL work starts now?

That’s right. You’re nowhere near ready to publish. Hey, if you’re Stephen King or another good writer and have somehow stumbled onto this post, one round of rewrites after you get your beta reader comments may be all you need. But most readers, like me, haven’t reached that level yet. We need multiple drafts, multiple reviews, and multiple rewrites.

For me, part of the repeated revision process is the desire to create a well-written book. I don’t want to be embarrassed by critical reviews pointing out all kinds of weaknesses—poorly developed characters, lame plot with multiple holes, passive voice, inconsistent POV, and so on.

But more importantly, I want to do the stories justice. I think the major plot ideas behind both my major WIPs are good ones. The Muse gave me wonderful stories to write about. I know they could be awesome books. In my mind, the main characters are interesting and approachable. I think readers could relate to them. But I have to bring that out in my writing.

Frankly, anyone can have a great idea for a novel. And most people, if they put their minds to it, could write one. But that doesn’t mean the book would be good. Many would-be writers couldn’t handle the work involved in getting the story right. That’s one reason everyone doesn’t write novels.

Can I do it? After several rounds of revisions, will I have a novel that is entertaining and well-written? I refuse to fall into the trap of revising forever and never publishing my books. That’s pointless. But when I decide to publish, will I have done the stories justice? Will I reach the point where I can honestly and accurately answer that question with a yes? I’ll only know the answer when the books are out there and I see if an audience develops. It’s a daunting thought.

How about you, fellow writers? What drives your editing and revision and keeps you sticking with your stories?

Recent Awards

This last week I was graced with three blog awards: Kreativ Blogger, Thanks for Blogging, and Ask Me Anything, by Kate Policani, Wally Tomosky, and KindredSpirit23, respectively. My modest nature is putting up some resistance in accepting these. It doesn’t think every second or third post should be an award acceptance—even though the “Ask Me Anything” award is newly created by KindredSpirit23 and I was one of the first “awardees.” That is an amazing compliment that my mind cannot fully comprehend.

I want to thank the three bloggers who nominated me, and I do graciously accept. But I need some time before I can do another award post. I want to provide some “serious” content for a while. Okay, as serious as I can be. I’m not going to turn the blog into an instructional series on writing or archaeology. But I don’t want my blog getting arrogant, as Sweet Mother would say.


American Airlines seems to be making a lot of comments these days, be it mail, letters, or scam. Maybe they’ll sue the “smappers” for libel?

And “the mob” may be getting into the “smap” business. “Numbers Wolansky” wanted to comment on my “When the Going Gets Tough” post. Maybe he thought it referred to old-time gangsters?

54 thoughts on “Doing The Story Justice

  1. As someone who is in the process of editing (this is probably my fourth draft, maybe more) I agree with you completely. What keeps me going is that I KNOW it’s getting better. I’m planning on these being my final revisions and because of that’s is taking me even longer. And then, once their finished, I’ll have to have someone check it for typos, missing words etc. but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.


    • Even though it’s hard to be objective about our own writing, we have to learn to do it. That’s where those breaks after a major revision or when a draft is out for review are so important. We can come back to the manuscript with a fresh eye. I know that some of my revisions so far are an improvement. And they’ll be better when I come back to them after I finish Draft 3.

      Recognizing those improvements is a morale booster. But sometimes that nemesis self-doubt says, “Are you sure?” Beating it back is another post!


    • You’re very welcome . 🙂 I always appreciate the award nominations. It’s just they sometimes get overwhelming, and I have a hard time responding as I should.


  2. I would be wealthy if I took a penny for everyone who has said to me, “Yeah, I have a great idea for a novel–you should write about…” As if a two-sentence summary of an amazing plot is all you need for success.

    I have gone through the first novel writing, polishing, re-writing, revising, polishing process and am just spilling out a rough first draft on the second now. The revision process you’re going through as we speak is shudder-worthy. I’m trying to psych myself into it for the future. I agree with you–I don’t want to be revising forever… but I do want the best product I can possibly produce. Best wishes on the continuing editing front.


    • I think in all areas of life, ideas are “a dime a dozen,” be they for books, a new food product or household tool, or fashion design. It’s bringing the ideas to the physical world in a way that’s new, creative, and good that’s hard. I won’t even get into how even good implementation still may not result in a market or audience!

      Sometimes I tell myself the harder the work to truly finish the novels, the sweeter their publication will be. That’s one area where I’d like to be right for once!

      I will keep plugging away at those edits and revisions. And best wishes for your drafting of that second novel. 🙂


  3. That’s great about the awards. Well deserved. I find I even stumble through blog posts finding errors and rewrites. Can only imagine what a book might be like.


    • Thanks, Susie! Maybe writing a novel is like pregnancy in some ways. If we knew what we were getting ourselves into, we’d never do it! 🙂 Sometimes it’s best not to know too much going in. 😉


  4. I actually don’t mind the edit and re-edits. As long as I laid down a strong foundation, that is. I didn’t do that with my first novel. I had to do some major plot rewrites. That’s why I’m trying to be smarter this time around with a well thought-out outline. We’ll see if that makes a difference.

    Loved that “Numbers Wolansky” came by to see you. Better be on your best behavior. 🙂


    • Even this pantser hopes to do a bit more structuring on the sequels. They’re both started, but I’m not too far into them. For one part of the Crossroads sequel, I know the main plot development and most of the side plots, too. The other two parts aren’t as clear. And “Death Out of Time’s” sequel is still very raw. But I’ve got to finalize the first two books first.

      Like you, when I know where I’m going, the revisions aren’t bad. But when I’m struggling with the changes, then it’s harder and more frustrating. I think I’ve made good progress on a chunk of “Death’s” needed revisions, and that feels good. Still, there’s a ways to go…. One bird at a time, right?

      Yes, sometimes the “smapper” names are the funniest things in the queue. 🙂


      • I find it difficult enough to focus on one book at a time. Don’t know how those of you with trilogies do it, but I get that that is the wave of the future. One I have completely missed. 🙂


        • I’m not sure how many books will follow Death Out of Time. It certainly has the potential to be a series. But of what length? That depends on how many fresh stories come to me. I envision there being four Crossroads books (Summer at the, Autumn at the,….). They’re not sequels per se since I know several years will pass between the stories in them. So they’ll all be stand-alone in that sense.

          You realize, now, that you’ve tempted your Muse to fill you head with ideas for a series now, don’t you?! 😉 That wave may be sneaking up on you as you read this! 🙂


  5. The statistic I keep hearing is that 81% of people feel they have a book in them and should write it. At the risk of sounding snooty or arrogant, I tend to think that the figure is half right. From my own experience, I can totally buy that *at least* 81% of people have a story for a novel lurking within them. Some of those story ideas might even be the start of something at least good, not necessarily great, but a good starting point. My problem is with the other half of that statement. Most of those people simply have no idea how much work goes into a book. They’re totally unprepared for just the hours it takes to produce a first draft. Then the editing process drops on them like King Kong off the Empire State Building. Some of them will make it through a round of editing, then be unable (or in some cases unwilling) to believe that there are more rounds after that. Several more. Many get out at this point, I suspect, then go around at parties telling people how they wrote a book once. Some decide to start querying at this stage, believing it ready for an editor at least. And now, with self-publishing being so easy and having such a broad reach as to be an attractive option, some of them just toss it out there and don’t understand why they aren’t getting good reviews.

    I guess my point here is that I wish more would-be writers would understand what they’re getting into when they start that novel. Of course, if they did, we’d probably have fewer writers.

    I completely agree about doing the story justice, and that’s part of what drives me through the editing process. The other is the idea of doing justice to myself as a writer. I want to be seen as a good writer, someone with talent, and I think I can make that impression, if I do the work required, if I push myself and demand more, better of myself. Part of demanding better is editing until I think it’s the best I can make it. Then I send it to test readers who can tell me what I’ve missed. I think I deserve my best, as do potential readers, so I edit until I’m sure I and they get it.


    • I can believe that 81 percent, too—people having ideas for a novel. But you’re right—nowhere near that number really understand what’s involved. It’s not enough to sit down and spit out 70,000 or more words and say, “I wrote a book.”

      I just got a Kindle 2 weeks ago, and I’ve hardly downloaded anything. But in all honesty, I’m leery of purchasing a 99-cent novel. I know some authors are using that as an introductory price. But others will keep it there, hoping to attract a lot of readers that way. But what does 99 cents say about the quality of the work? Every article I’ve read indicates “you get what you pay for.” And 99 cents is cheap. And that usually means low quality.

      Yes, there are exceptions, and if I find one, I’ll download it. But in writing, as in many areas of life, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. And if a writer isn’t going to make the effort to recognize what’s needed to put forth the best work possible, maybe it’s best to keep the idea on one’s own computer.

      Beta readers, everyone! Get yourself good beta readers, and when you finished the books, get a good editor, even if you e-publish. Respect the stories and yourself. 🙂


      • Absolutely. I’m even more leery of “free” in ebooks. I often wonder about the professionalism of people for whom exposure is enough, which in turn makes me question the quality of their work. And I’m not talking about setting it to free for a day or two for promotion either. Besides, as a writer myself, I know the work that *should* have gone into their book and I feel it’s fair that they get paid for that work.

        Instead of trying to sift through all the dreck that goes out there for free or 99 cents (I have neither the time nor the patience for that), I tend to read a lot of blurbs in the higher price points, then download the preview to my e-reader (Kobo for me) and see what I think of the author’s style, skills and their story. It’s the equivalent to me of browsing the store then reading the first few pages before deciding whether I want to buy the book. Except it’s better because I can read that preview wherever I want, whenever I have time. I adore that part of ebooks.

        And the one thing I’d add to your comment about beta readers is to make sure they’re people you are certain will give you HONEST feedback. No ego-stroking, no trepidation about saying something doesn’t work, no general comments like “I loved it.” You need people who will be fair. But then, you have that whole series of posts about the subject. 🙂


        • Yes, that preview feature is great. And I look for solid reviews that really discuss the book. The ones that give 5 stars and say only “I love it!” were obviously written by the author’s friends and family. I’m sorry, but I’m looking for something a lot more UNbiased. 🙂

          Yes, all writers need honest and critical feedback prior to publishing. Someone who will lay it on the line (remember everyone—respectfully and tactfully!). Family and friends can be helpful reviewers. But I don’t think most of them can really reach the level of honesty the author needs.

          The beta reading series continues to get regular views, so I hope it’s helping a lot more people. 🙂


  6. Hurray for you jm! It’s written and now, as you say, the real work begins. I have no doubt that you will hone your work and learn so much from the whole process, that there will be no stopping you. You have every reason to believe in yourself and the good work you are doing. Not only that, but you have run far ahead of me on our writing trail and I’m happy to follow. I have much to learn still and I learn so much from you as you are traveling into this wonderful next phase. No doubt, when the frustrations come, remember me–and all of us–who are cheering you on!! xox


    • Thanks, Jeannie! I am definitely remembering you and everyone else who cheers me on. That will be a major thank you area in my 100th post at the end of the month. 🙂 )

      If sharing my experiences helps other people avoid some of my mistakes, then I’m very happy with my blogging efforts. And I hope I do as good a job cheering on you and other readers with your writing endeavors, too. And I honestly don’t believe I have far outrun you on the trail—I see you in that pack with me. 🙂

      Life should be a never-ending learning process on so many levels. Even if we “master” something like writing, there is always more we can learn and a way in which we can improve. Sometimes, it’s hard work. But that’s no reason to quit. 🙂


  7. JM, you have reason to celebrate — at least you’ve finished. I do know what you mean about editing and revising. When I took a writer’s class in NYC, everyone loved my first chapter, but the instructor said we need to know how/why your character got here and why she’s doing what she’s doing. This sounds more like a third or fourth chapter. I had to go BACK and provide that and it was tough and now I have to do revisions on the chapters I’ve written since then. It’s frustrating, so I can totally relate to your comment about this: “In my mind, the main characters are interesting and approachable. I think readers could relate to them. But I have to bring that out in my writing.”

    It’s tough, frustrating but don’t you love that feeling you get when you just KNOW something is great? At least, I hope that feeling is right. Congrats!!!! :).


    • Hi, Brigitte, thanks for joining in!

      I’ve read other writers talk about similar situations to yours—where the first chapter needed revision, and then that causes further revisions. I can understand why some writers actually wait until they’ve finished the rest of the book before they write Chapter 1. (I don’t think I could be one of them….)

      It is a wonderful feeling when I get something right after working over it for a while. I’m happy with the way the book now leads into the ending, and that will help me with some other areas that are still awaiting their revisions.

      And, of course, I hope I will take everything I’ve learned with this book’s revisions and apply it to future stories! 🙂


  8. I think having a decent structure to begin with helps. In my experience the ones with less of a structure up front seem to have more problems on the revision stages. But there are lots of things to consider so it is not that straight forward. There is also an arguable point to taking more care as you do the initial write rather than just getting something down, but that I think comes with experience, and as you know, some days are just better than others when it comes to writing. – Good post.


    • I know pantsers sometimes envy outliners for getting “the whole story figured out” at the beginning. And outliners somtimes envy the pantsers’ creative spurts and ability to “pull things together somehow” at the end.

      Depending on experience, talent, and personal style, some writers will always have a harder time with rewrites than others. I think it can happen to both pantsers and outliners. Pantsers can write themselves into a corner or miss plot holes, for example, in the first draft. And outliners can get too attached to that original structure and not realize it isn’t really working. I think what’s critical for both types of writers is to learn to recognize what needs fixing after that first draft is written. Because every first draft needs revision—a lot of it. The skill is in how much we fix it in Round 2.

      As we write and learn from earlier mistakes, each Round 2 should be better than the previous ones. I’m still at a stage where I need at least Round 3. But if it takes more than that to do the story justice, I’ll keep at it. I may bang my head against the wall some days and tear out my hair, but I’ll keep at it. 🙂


  9. I kind of like the editing and revising process. I love seeing my story take on fuller shape and charisma. It’s like watching spring happen–words blossoming, buds taking form and then unfolding in all their glory.


    • I hope I’m not coming across as disliking the process! Sure, I’d love to write a perfect first draft, but it’s never going to happen. 😉 Rewrites and revisions are a huge part of the process, and newer writers aren’t always ready for that. And sometimes they wear on me (the r and r, not new writers!). But as you say, the story becomes fuller and develops more charisma as a result. And it’s a great feeling when I see that happening. 🙂

      I really want Round 3 here to be the last major round of revisions. But as I said to Elliot above, I’ll do as many as it takes. 🙂


      • I hope Round 3 is it for you too! Just because it’s nice to finally say, “It’s done! Now let’s go celebrate!”


  10. I have the story (stories) in me. I have it in me to write a book, possibly, even a good book for selling. But, we will see. I have started, but I am enjoying so much in life right now, I am just do that, whatever it might be. It’s not procrastination anymore (I think it once was). I am just satisfied at the moment. Tomorrow may be different.

    As far as the award, you take it on when you are ready. It is to enjoy also, not frown over.
    And, you are well-worth the nomination!


    • For years I’d think, “that’s a great idea for a book,” but I never did anything about them. And the ideas would disappear from my mind. But then one day, something in me clicked. And I started doing it. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest, I started reading books about writing, and am pretty much self-taught except for what I learned in my very good English classes in school.

      When the time is right, you’ll know it. 🙂 But be careful—there’s often no turning back!

      And thank you for understanding my overwhelmed feeling about awards at the moment. The honor is truly appreciated. 🙂


  11. JM, I know how you feel. Every round of revision, I think I’m done. But I found that I really need several months for my writing to grow to a point where I can make strong revisions. I gave both my manuscripts breathing room and then revised this past winter. This spring I have been querying them. If I don’t get an agent’s interest, I plan to revise again in the fall.


    • That breathing space is so important. I haven’t looked at “Crossroads” since January, but I’m beginning to recognize areas that will need more work. I think the characters from that book are getting impatient and popping ideas into my mind. 😉 I’m jotting down notes on them, but I really want to get Draft 3 of “Death” on paper first. Then I’ll take a breather from it before I edit those revisions. Of course, that breather will be cut short by a full-on assault by the “Crossroads” gang. 😀

      Doing as well as you did in the Amazon contest, I really hope an agent likes what s/he sees and takes you on! Of course, they’ll probably have their own suggestions for revisions…. 😉 But revising for an agent or editor would probably have a different feel to it!


  12. I really appreciate this post, JM. As a freelance writing coach I run into a lot of authors who aren’t prepared or convinced that editing is a necessary process. Oh sure, they’re happy to fix typos but content? Many writers are quite baffled by the idea of revising entire subplots or restructuring the timeline or deleting a character.

    Then, there are the writers who will go ahead and start revising, but only think one sweep is enough. Suggesting they run a 3rd or 4th round of revisions can make for some pretty cantankerous writers.

    Your thoughts are spot-on. Revisions are necessary for a book to be well-written, well-received. I would bet the same writers who refuse to revise are the same writers who get fed up with the first five rejections from agents. These are the books that end up as ebooks and don’t sell because they truly weren’t ready.


    • Revision is something I learned about in my senior year of high school. My college prep writing instructor always stressed its importance. A number of students understood the concept for things like research papers, but they balked when it came to creative writing. They would argue that their creative thoughts were already at their best when they were first penned—you couldn’t improve that initial creation.

      He would explain how great writers (and song writers) would edit, revise, and edit and revise again. Some students finally got it. But I suspect others never did. And as you say, they’re probably the ones who can never understand why nobody wants to read or listen to their works.

      It’s hard to take criticism, even at its most constructive. But I’ll probably drive my blog readers crazy by constantly saying we have to recognize the weak points and flaws in our work and fix them if we want to be GOOD writers. 🙂


  13. I absolutely believe you can do it and have an excellent book ready for publishing. I have not yet finished but I know I can get to the end of it and then begin that process. I’m quite looking forward to it. One step closer with each go through. 🙂


    • That is the best attitude to take toward revisions—each round brings us closer to the final goal of publishing the best book we can. The revisions are probably hardest with the first books. It’s a new experience for most of us, and I suspect we all underestimate how much work it will take. But as we learn from the early works, future books should go more smoothly.

      Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! I don’t think I could carry through on this without people like you. I hope I am offering the same in return. 🙂


  14. Revision can be a heart-breaker can’t it. As a writer of poetry I feel for you having to go through all those words, checking for inconsistencies etc, It’s bad enough in a short piece for me, making changes, losing lines I love, because they are really another poem. All those things like sound and rhythm, rhyme, need to be looked at. My beta reader is my wife, she’s very good now because she has a constant question about the background.

    I am trying to write prose, short stories and a longer story at the moment. But it all takes time, so I am also learning patience. I haven’t written enough, and in a regular manner lately due to other work and family life, last year I took two evenings a week to write. That has not been so easy this year.

    I agree it is a real problem that you can publish without recourse to even a beta reader. It lowers the general standard over time. Muddies the waters of what is really being written. It is an area that I think the big publishers need to look at, they are trying to cling to an old model of production. When someone hits on a new system it will regrow and the readers confidence in the system will grow as well. Perhaps a new niche for freelance reader/editors.



    • Hi, Jim, thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂 I think poetry and shorter stories may be just as hard to edit and revise—just in different ways as you note. Each word and phrase is so much more critical when you have a limited number to use and a set structure to place them in. A novel has more flexibility that way, although many more words and ideas to deal with. A change in one chapter can have a ripple effect through the rest of the book.

      Your idea of a new niche for freelance readers/editors is a good one. Some existing freelancers have probably started tapping this growing pool of would-be writers. But we could use more. And I wish we could find a way to convince some of the new writers that they really need to edit and revise if they want to do good work that will build them an appreciative audience.

      Best wishes for all your writing endeavors, and I look forward to reading more of your posts. Finding quality time to write is one of the hardest things for me to do.


  15. There is the constant desire to improve, and I when you get it right, you know it. It’s that satisfying feeling in the gut and in the head. I do believe that there is that temptation to rewrite forever, to improve beyond what doesn’t need improvement.

    I find that that two things help me – having a reader that will provide objective, honest opinion and point out errors in logic and letting the piece sit for a while before I go back and read it again. Time and distance allow me to see it again in a different light.


    • Good, objective readers and time away from the manuscript are crucial. New writers often want to rush the book and query (or e-publish) before taking time to let it “settle” and then really go through it again. But when we put the manuscript aside for a few weeks, it’s a real eye-opener. So many things pop out—plot flaws, weak characters, poor setting, and so on. And good beta readers will likely find even more.

      We’ll see how many more rounds this takes me….


  16. I had NO idea editing is when the real work begins until I started editing. I finished my novel six or so times and then BAM – something new to fix/tweak/massage. delete. Ah me.

    I’m glad to hear the airline is picking on others. Well, not glad exactly, but you know what I mean.


    • I tell myself I’m now working on Draft 3. But of course, there are multiple passes through the manuscript on each round, focusing on different elements. If I counted those separately. . . . Oh, boy, I might give up!

      My “smap” queue is getting a lot of residents these last few days. But no good nuggests to pop into a post. What else is it good for!? 😉


  17. For me it is a little different because I edit as I go (and re-edit, and re-edit). I never took a course to tell me I shouldn’t do that. It’s very slow-going, but it means that when I “finish” the final chapter for the first time, the draft I will have will be well beyond a first draft. There’s probably just as much revision, but the pacing of it is different. I will say that “doing justice to the story” is a very good description of what keeps me working at it (for 10 years now). I think I used those words or something very like them recently in describing my process to someone. So I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.


    • I do some of the edit-on-the fly, too, although I try not to get bogged down in it. But sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the first goal is to get the story out. It’s also hard to remember that the first draft is likely bad. I think some writers can get discouraged by editing too much too early. They can lose confidence in their writing and the story because they think it should be “better” from the very start. And that’s just not the case.

      I guess that last scenario is the “flip side of the coin” to those writers who just e-publish without any editing or realization that the story would be better if they spent more time on revisions.


      • I know what you mean about getting “bogged down” – I’ve just never been able to help editing as I go. I start each session by re-reading what I wrote the day before – or sometimes from the beginning of the chapter – and if I see something that strikes me wrong, I HAVE to change it! I also find myself editing if I go back to check how I handled something in an earlier chapter. If I read it, I edit it. Definitely I feel the danger that the process could go on forever…

        The bottom line – and the point you’re making with your very excellent post – is that there’s a LOT of work to writing a novel. I second that wholeheartedly!


  18. Great post – and such interesting comments
    Even if you write by the seat of your pants, realistically it helps if there’s some sort of plan or map of where the story is going (even if it’s written in invisible ink on the bricks of that fireplace you stare at …(those characters that appear do have a story line in mind…they need to share that with the writer to make sure the story is well stitched together…pinch them until they spill it)
    One thought on the quality of ebooks, publishing is going through massive changes – we’ll see how things settle out…this sort of happened before – there were all those cheap “dime store novels” and penny presses aftere the printing press made written materials available for the masses – and in the early years of the US ( all those storied romanticizing the west) Meanwhile, one thought is people don’t value what they don’t have to pay for? (But given the current market – how does a new writer get noticed?)
    Once again great post


    • Yes, those characters sometimes have a habit of withholding vital information….

      The whole e-book development has been such a revolution. As you pointed out, there were the “dime store novels” and penny presses of earlier times. “Real” writers (of the literary persuasion) scoffed at them. But many people gobbled up the stories and serials as soon as they hit the market. E-books are, in some ways, their modern counterparts.

      And the pricing structure makes things difficult. In all honesty, many things that are given away aren’t worth paying for. Most $2.99 are bad or so-so while a few are good. But does that mean “good” writers should sell at $2.99? I don’t think so. I think readers and writers should value good work at a higher price. But will I spend $12.99 for the e-version of a traditionally printed book? Probably not. My library is part of the Kindle library loaning system…. So where is a good price point for a good book? We’re still finding our way.

      So many changes. So many new options. Who will be left standing? I liken it to VHS vs. Beta. After beating Beta, VHS must have thought it was king of the mountain. And then came CDs and DVDs…. How many younger readers even know what VHS was?


  19. I agree with you editing and revising takes the most time, and it is horrendous work, cutting and chopping your little darlings. But the worse thing is that while there is such a thing as a first draft, there is never anything like a final draft. All books are works in progress and there is always space for improvement. So editing and revising, it never ends…


    • It is true there are no final drafts. I’ve heard so many authors say that if they could go back and revise a published novel, they would—even if it’s a popular best seller. Many of us have an innate feeling that we can always improve our writing. Overall, I believe that’s a good thing. But when taken to the extreme, it can leave a book languishing forever as a manuscript.


  20. I feel like I’ve been editing my novel forever but its still not of the calibre it needs to be to publish. The editing process is one I find really hard and I haven’t perfected my method yet, but I hope, with practise, that I find a way that works for me and makes the process easier.


    • You could have just described my feelings about my editing. Even though I do a lot of it in the day job, fiction is a different beast. And I haven’t been writing it that long. I really hope I’m learning enough with these first two books that the next ones will go more smoothly. Sometimes I’m tempted to say “isn’t this good enough?” But I know, realistically, I’m not there yet. The important thing is that we keep at it. 🙂


  21. There is oh so much to think about when writing. It does initially feel like it’s the ‘getting the story down there’ that’s the hard part. But then the revising until you get it to a standard where you think that you might feel comfortable sharing it with someone… This can all take so much time and effort. Of course, as time passes and as your experiences change, so does your perspective. It can be annoying to revisit a piece and think: yeeshk, what was I thinking? I feel that way about my manuscript. However, I’ve passed it to a friend and I will await her review before I give it a 4th edit (of course making good use of Robin’s tips!).

    I am sure that with all your hard work and commitment, there will be great things coming your way with your writing! 🙂 Love the happy dancers, by the way! 🙂


    • Thanks, Katy! The characters from my first novel have ambushed me. And they’ve got me retyping a clean and again-edited copy into Scrivener. (I’d written it originally in Word.) And as I type, I continue to edit. And I’m still not sure how close to done I am!

      They’re the subject of Saturday’s upcoming post. I hope you’ll offer your insights! 🙂


      • Ooh, but it’s all moving in the right direction. Even when you’re feeling bogged down just remember that all the best writers are never wholly content with their work. They always strive to improve… Remember to rest your eyes! 🙂


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