Recently I've decided to scrap the first MS I ever wrote and start over from scratch. This is because the time difference between my first MS and my WIP is about 3 years. I am older, wiser, and I think (hope) I've become a better writer. When I went back over my first MS I noticed some desperately amateur mistakes in the writing. It made me want to go back and write the whole thing again, this time paying attention to key stylistic devices and developing my plot beyond the simple "Who-dunnit" one I have now.

 

It has been brought to my attention that this behaviour is a) neurotic and b) pointless because I'm such a perfectionist that I'm still going to think the end result is shite no matter how well-written it is.

 

So quick question ladies and gents - am I being neurotic? Would you re-write a 70,000 word MS (from scratch) because you believe it's not your best work? If you wouldn't, then how many edits does your work go through before you deem it 'ready'?

 

Jess

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The amount of editing depends on the book in my experience. Some books I've only had to do the minimum editing and that was all it took. Others I had to do a complete rewrite (more than once), tweak over and over, move things around, change things, etc. It depends on the book for me. The longer you write and the more you edit and learn the fundamentals of editing, it's easier to crank out a first draft that's pretty decent. Not saying it won't need to be tweaked a bit or anything but from my experience, the more I write , the easier it has become for me to write a decent draft the first time. Still, like I said, some books I have to do extra too and that's just part of the process.

I think it becomes too much editing when you procrastinate to the point where you obsess over every little thing over and over. I am a perfectionist too when it comes to my work. I think all writers are. No writer wants anything wrong with their work but you gotta be a productive procrastinator. If you've gone over your story (however many times you had to) and are content with it, then you gotta start getting it out there. If you don't and spend time editing it over and over you'll lose the impact of the story, your focus and your enthusiasm. A lot of new writers edit to death and until the original story isn't recognizable. Then they lose excitement for the project and wanna give up. No manuscript is perfect. I don't care how many times you go over something or read it, there's gonna be some mistakes.

I believe this is just a sign of fear for a lot of writers. Perhaps the fear of potential rejection. Whatever the case, you can't hold on to it forever if you expect to get somewhere with it. Gotta do tough love and let your little baby go sometimes. Another thing new writers don't do is trust themselves. If you know you've worked hard on your book and have taken all steps to make sure it's the best you can get it, then you gotta trust that you did the best you could and send it out. If not you might get to where you don't send anything out then what's the point? I have known writers that are so scared of even trying to send stuff out that they start projects over and over and haven't gotten anywhere. At least when you send it out, you could be closer to publication.

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net
And let me say that sometimes beta readers and critique partners can hurt more than help. I see too many writers who spend more time sending their work around to readers instead of working on the story and learning themselves how to make it better. Now using readers is fine and if you are new to the industry it can be very helpful but too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the meal. When you got tons of different people with a bunch of different opinions whispering in your ear, suggesting, making comments, it can make it difficult for the writer to focus on the work. You gotta take people's opinions at face value sometimes. One of the biggest mistakes of new writers is that they trust all their readers and try to change everything to suit every person. No book suits everyone.

I just wanted to say this because this has been happening a lot lately. Sometimes "readers" can muddy the water. That's why I'd say if you use readers to stick to one or two people. It's just too many opinions that get in the way and leave the writer more confused about the work than before.

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net
Much depends on the readers. They should be experienced, preferably with your ( generic "you", not Stacy) genre plus some others. They should know basic English.

Then, you are ultimately the judge of what is best for your book. If suggestions seem to come out of left field, ignore them. Otherwise, be very aware of consensus among your readers. If a number of people tell you you're too wordy, maybe you are. If several want more detail on something, it may be worth considering. If people are getting confused, the reason may be your writing. Readers are good for your book, but you must know how to use them.

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