Monday, July 26, 2010

How Do You Know When to Stop Revising?

For the past few weeks I've been working on revisions and I'm ready to stop. How do I know it's time?

1. My toughest critic (so far) read the revised manuscript and gave me a thumbs up.

2. I've cut as much as I can from the story, without removing anything essential. Any more, and I think the story would fall apart.

3. The story actually makes sense! I was able to write a coherent two-paragraph summary, a pitch sentence and a query letter. (They need more work, but the story is focused enough for me to capture the essence of it now.) I know, I know. It would have been easier if I'd done that at the beginning. For this one, I had to write the book to know what it was about.

4. The story has stopped filling up my thoughts. This sounds crazy, I know. It's summer. I should be out enjoying the world instead of feeling tied to my computer. Sometimes the story grabs hold and won't let you think about anything else. Yesterday, I spent a whole day poking around in my garden, chalking on the driveway with my kids, taking a long walk in nature. The story didn't call me back.

5. I have first drafts of two other novels waiting for more attention.

At least for now, I'm done with revising this story. Until it captures the interest of an agent or editor and they make more suggestions for improvement. I'm not kidding myself. I know there will likely be more revisions for this book in my future. And I won't mind. But for now I've taken it as far as I can. How do you know when to stop revising?


  1. It sounds like you're in great shape! If I can't stand to look at a story anymore, I put it aside for a few weeks. When I come back to it, if I can read through it without wanting to make any changes (besides small wording issues) that usually means it's done. Good luck with it!

  2. It's nice to reach this stage, isn't it?


  3. Great idea, Anna. I've never gotten so I can't stand to look at it, maybe in the middle when it was clear I had to rewrite a lot of if and didn't think I could face it. I'm glad I perserved though.

  4. I know to stop writing when I can write a good query letter. When I can sum up the book and I know what it is about and the whole thing makes sense, then I know I am there.

    Love your ideas. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. I think you're ready too Andrea. These are some of the same things I also do and know it's time to quit! Too bad I'm not there yet! Ha.

    And I totally agree with your No. 3. I can't even began to tweak my pitch or query until I'm almost near finishing revisions. I just don't really know yet until it's at that point.

    Good luck on your other two novels!


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