Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Calling it done...

I've been editing a lot lately, so much so that it seems like it is the only thing I -have- been doing. I know this is probably just me, but I can't write or edit in double-space. Can't. I look at it and it just reads bad, as though each and every word was hit with a stupid stick. Yes, I have my issues. LOL. Or maybe writing quirks, either way, I've been editing so much that I just open the WIP, look at it and have to close it again.

I can't look at it.

And here is the thing: I know there are issues. I'm sure of it. There's holes a-plenty. And if I can see them, I know my readers will as well. I'm reminded of an writer's comic where the writer fell through this hole in the ground and a friend is standing over this hole and just shaking her head, thinking 'well, I told him he needed to fix it' or some such. That person in the hole... that's me. I've become lost along the way with editing.

Now, I know what I want. I can see it in my head. Can almost even picture the book in my hands. And just as an aside: wouldn't it be much easier if you could simply stare at the screen and the story just wrote itself? It'd just be there. But that's not writing. A famous quote mentions that it is the blood and sweat of a writer and I do believe that because it takes work. When I first started writing, I thought that you wrote and that was it. You were done. But no. That's not taking into account the rewriting and edits. Similar, but not.

I don't know what version I'm on now. The 100th would be a pretty good guestimate in my opinion because when this novel started out, it sparked from two playstation games... and simply revolved around the miltary and a virus that gave soldiers this telepathy. Then I got into my Anthropology phase in highschool and suddenly Neandertals made their way into it (I do still laugh at this one I'll admit). Now, it's barely recognizable from those first attempts. I still go back at times to look at previous versions just to see how much my writing has changed. And it's a lot...

But I've gone off on a tangent. I was talking about editing. I've often wondered how writers know they are done. I mean I suppose in one way they are never done. But there has to be a point where they step back and say 'nope, not doing more. must move on'. I'm bordering that line right now. I just can't do much more. I feel the mental disconnect now that is telling me to move on to the next manuscript.

Do you use a checklist and you must check off each one before you consider it done? Something like the revision checklist Nathan Bransford mentions here? Is it when you can go through it and you don't feel a compulsion to change something? Do you have a specific strategy? What makes you call your book finished enough to move on?


  1. I tend to call a book done when I write 'The End.' I used to stress about edits and rewrites and it made me miserable and didn't improve the book. I write a very clean first draft at this point in my career, and once I finish a book it gets a basic run through looking for sentences that could be tighter, misused words, repetitive words and then it's pretty much done and off to the editor. Usually doesn't take more than a couple of weeks after I write the last word.

  2. Even after having two CP's review a manuscript, and doing hardcore edits the only surefire way I KNOW when a story is done is when I hate it. Seriously, then I simply know it's finished :)