I believe that I could edit eternally, and I have to be very stern with myself about it. I edit in layers, so for example, I might start editing for character, checking to be sure I've been consistent and interesting and all that. But then I see a phrase that isn't quite the way I'd like it, and pretty soon I'm editing something else entirely.

Now that's not all bad, because it probably will improve the piece, but WHERE does it STOP? Maybe when I'm so sick of the whole thing that I can't stand to read it one more time. That doesn't mean it's how I really want it; it just means I've made myself accept that edit # 30 or #50 or whatever is the final one. And this time, I really mean it!

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Comment by Pepper Smith on October 2, 2009 at 5:53am
I seem to recall George Lucas having said that movies are never finished, they're just abandoned. (This was around the time he started tweaking the first Star Wars trilogy.) I think writing is also similar. You never really feel the work is perfect, but at some point you have to abandon it and move on. Otherwise, we'd eternally be tweaking things that are probably just fine the way they are.
Comment by Peg Herring on October 2, 2009 at 4:57am
Part of the problem is I LIKE editing. (Says the English teacher)
Comment by Dana King on October 2, 2009 at 4:21am
I do much what you do, editing for specific things each time, but fixing whatever else catches my eye. I'm careful never to un-improve something, since I'll be back. However, once I've been through the standard passes, let the book sit for 6-8 weeks, read it straight through for continuity, cleaned up whatever I've found, I give it what I know is going to be the Final Pass. (Insert ominous music here.) I read a chapter one day. Next day I edit that chapter and read the next. Third day I do a hard copy line edit on the first chapter, edit the second, and read the third. Continue until I get to the end, type THE END at the bottom, and that's all. Otherwise I'd never finish anything.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on October 2, 2009 at 1:17am
Never try to write a comment two days after having surgery on your arm/hand. Things just don't work like they should.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on October 2, 2009 at 1:13am
This is exactly the reason I never like to edit my stuff more than four times. Someone else needs to do the final editing. I ALWAYS

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