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Thread: what does polished/unpolished look like?

  1. #26
    figuring it all out LuckyStar's Avatar
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    Have you heard back yet from the fulls you've sent out?

  2. #27
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    One rejection, one still out (average response time 151 days...) And not been long enough for a response of any kind from Angry Robot.

    I ended up rewriting the ending and overhauling the structure, since starting this thread, however! The one still out (which is the same version AR has) are the revised versions. The rejection was the unrevised version.

    So I guess for me, 'polished' has been about getting to the stage where beta reader feedback stops prompting large-scale revision, since my sentence level polish is generally good across all versions.
    Last edited by Harlequin; 12-31-2017 at 01:28 PM.
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

  3. #28
    Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae The Otter's Avatar
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    What makes a manuscript "polished" is (beyond the obvious stuff like "free of typos and spelling/grammar mistakes") pretty subjective. There have been times readers have responded to my early drafts with, "wow, this is already so polished I can't find anything to crit" and other times when they've responded to draft 50 with "this feels like a first draft...am I right?"

    There've been times where I've read published novels that I absolutely loved, that felt flawless, and then heard an editor or reviewer calling them turgid and bloated and saying that whoever edited this must have been asleep at the wheel.

    There are other times I've read a beloved classic and thought that it read like an early draft. I had this thought about TKAM, to be honest; large sections of the beginning chapters are just really slow and info-dumpy, and there are whole scenes that feel like they could be cut without affecting the plot. At the same time, I recognize that a lot of the stuff that I found boring, others would find charming. All those little details about the town and the day-to-day lives of the townsfolk are (for many people) what give the book its character and soul, and given that it's about a slower, more gently paced time, the lazily ambling pace is kind of fitting.

    So, yeah, it's hard to say when a book is ready to go. There's no such thing as perfection; there will always be things to improve. At some point you just have to draw a line and say, "Okay, this is done."
    Available in February 2018 from HarperCollins, my YA novel: WHEN MY HEART JOINS THE THOUSAND

  4. #29
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    Big +1 to what The Otter said. I mean, I want to believe that not everything is subjective, but I'm the person with four glowing trade reviews and one trade review that implies my book is a bad first draft. At a certain point you just have to throw up your hands and say, "I did my best; not everyone will like or even tolerate my book, and that's okay."

    I think there are aspects of a novel you can improve (A LOT), but there are other aspects of a novel that are like a magic trick or a joke. Some people will laugh or be thrilled, while other people roll their eyes. If you can thrill some of the readers some of the time, you may be on the right track. If every reader is saying, "Mehhh" or simply not getting through your book (I've had my share of those responses!), you probably have work to do. The aim is to convert at least some bored readers into thrilled and entranced readers by upping the dexterity of your sleight of hand. But you will never convert all of them.
    YA thriller The K1ller in M3, out now from D1sn3y-Hyper1on

    "Taut storytelling and believable characters make this a standout mystery" Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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  5. #30
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    for myself, I think I've reached the point where the novel in question isn't going to improve unless I either rewrite from scratch and change everything, or until I write the sequels and find I have continuity errors.

    Neither is happening at present, so it's done. On a sentence level, my polish is fine; structurally, I'm finally happy with it.

    Whether it will ever sell is in doubt (seems less likely than not) but hey. There's always the next. I'm aiming to learn how to write to market, and find a happy middle ground between my natural weirdness and reader expectations.
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

  6. #31
    practical experience, FTW lianna williamson's Avatar
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    I once read a blog post by an author dithering over whether to submit something or keep working on it. She realized that this is the best version of this story I am capable of creating at this point in my writing development. I think when you've reached that point, when if you changed more things about the book you'd be changing them just for the sake of change, it's time to submit. Maybe it will turn out that the best version of the story you can create right now isn't good enough to get published. But you can sink a lot of time into a book trying to make it better, when what will improve you most as a writer is writing a whole other book.

    I learned this the hard way, after years spent fiddling with an overly ambitious first novel.
    blogging the novel

  7. #32
    Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae The Otter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lianna williamson View Post
    But you can sink a lot of time into a book trying to make it better, when what will improve you most as a writer is writing a whole other book.

    I learned this the hard way, after years spent fiddling with an overly ambitious first novel.
    Yeah, many writers don't get their first (or even second or third) novel published. Some do, but often, it takes the practice of writing multiple books. Tinkering endlessly with an existing project can become a form of stalling; I've certainly done this as well. Sometimes you just have to move on. You can always return to an old project later, once you've gained more experience.
    Available in February 2018 from HarperCollins, my YA novel: WHEN MY HEART JOINS THE THOUSAND

  8. #33
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    It's only been 18 months, for the novel in question, so I don't feel too bad about it. I think for a first novel it's a good length of time and I learned a lot.

    Plus with multi POV there is a lot of structural stuff to work through. It's had one last major overhaul (after you saw it, otter) and I'm pretty content with how t is now. Maybe it will get published and maybe not. But I am finally happy with it. More or less.
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

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