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torrentwaters
01-03-2007, 02:10 PM
Okay here's the problem I've got this ms, it's done, but every time I go to edit it I find something wrong with it and back to the works in progress folder it goes. Now it's a piece I've had this problem with for a while. There's around three spiral notebooks kicking around with rough drafts that have been added to and deleted from. Not to mention the files on my computer. That's just for this one ms. I need an intervention for my editing problem. I guess the reason I'm posting this is cause, one I'd like to know if any one else has this problem and two should I just scrap this story? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

alleycat
01-03-2007, 02:48 PM
Have you been doing this continuously? If you have, you might want to set everything aside for two or three weeks (don't look at the notebooks, don't open the computer files, etc.). Get going on your next story. Then, when you've had a chance to get the first story "out of your head" (so to speak), go back with the intent of doing a possible final edit.

johnzakour
01-03-2007, 05:40 PM
There's no such thing as totally done. I'm still editing my novels that have been published years ago.

You've got to learn to accept, that there is no "perfect". Get up, walk away from the computer and take a break.

Send the manuscript out and see what people who can buy it have to say. Then go from there.

KCH
01-03-2007, 05:52 PM
Torrent--

Grab yourself by the lapels, throw yourself against the wall and demand to know: Is this editing, or obsessive tinkering?

Caveat: This advice falls under the category of Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do. Sigh. If only there were a rehabilitation center for obsessive tinkerers. If, as they say, the first step to recovery is acknowledging the problem, I've at least gotten that far.

For sheer effectiveness, nothing cures OT like a deadline. External ones, with consequences. Self-imposed one are better than nothing, but the problem is, it's too easy to negotiate an extension. (Never negotiate with someone who knows your weaknesses.) If there's no editor, agent, client at the other end of the deadline, set up someone to hold you accountable other than yourself. A critique group, a friend, a spouse or sibling who'd love the opportunity to upbraid you.

Oh, and if you're gonna tinker, the first rule of tinkering is: Save all the parts. (You've not experienced joy until you run across an earlier draft of a passage you've tortured the life from.)

KCH, who can sympathize

Shadow_Ferret
01-03-2007, 06:50 PM
If the problem is, everytime you edit you find something wrong, the solution is therefore, STOP EDITING!

Because you're always going to find something wrong if you look hard enough. Set yourself a goal of say, 4 or 5 passes on the novel and then STOP!

Are these major flaws with the plot or continuity? If not, then set it aside and relax. It's done. I find most tinkering is just minutiea that only you, as the author, will probably notice.

rugcat
01-03-2007, 08:53 PM
A good clue as to when to stop editing - when you realize that the sentence you've rewitten five times has come full circle and is now back to its original form.

southernwriter
01-03-2007, 09:12 PM
I'm on about the tenth edit of my novel. Every time I learn a new rule, such as removing all the "that," "as," and "was" possible, I make another sweep through it. I've removed all the over-used gestures, changed a lot of "looked at" to "turned to," and cut everything that doesn't move the story forward. I swear, this is the last time, though. I think there is a point where if you keep fooling with it, you'll write the life right out of it. There's a fine line between tight prose and dead prose.

icerose
01-04-2007, 06:00 AM
Sounds like beta time. You need an outside reader. But if you need help with your neurotic editing problem I have a manuscript that could use some help. :D

ETA: I must be the total opposite of obsessive tinkerers because I despise editing and I hate to do the first two passes and dread doing anything beyond that. I'm more inclined to chuck a manuscript that needs extensive editing than I am to do the editing itself.

travelgal
01-04-2007, 09:44 AM
I agree with icerose: BETA TIME! I'm like you, forever editing. If I had discovered these forums, critters, etc, earlier, my novel would be out long ago.

Good luck.

PeeDee
01-04-2007, 10:29 AM
Edit it once or twice thoroughly. Once for cohesiveness and a good story, once for the mechanical bits. If you learn anything new after that which you wish you'd applied to the novel....don't. Just save up your new knowledge and dutifully apply it to your next work.

The most important thing besides finishing your novel is getting it out of the house.

After all the passes you've done, I'd say just sit down and read it without a red pen or paper or anything. Read it start to finsih, like it's any other book. When it's done, if you haven't done a Raymond Chandler and forgotten about an entire character or anything, then put ti in an envelope and leave it there till you find someone to mail it to.

torrentwaters
01-04-2007, 01:14 PM
So maybe if I stop working on it for a little while, then go back and read it as if some one else had written it. Then if I don't throw it down in discuss, it's fine, and I just need to stop. Like everybody says, cause I'm way to much of a perfectionist.
This is going to be so easier said than done. Every time I think of something it's like oh maybe I should do that with the ms or maybe the mc could do that, ooh thats a good idea. Guys, does anybody know how to shut off your brain? Just for a little while.
Thanks for the advice.

Tracy
01-04-2007, 02:24 PM
Sounds to me like it might be a case of 'fear of finishing'. Which is very common. And not surprising when you think what awful things await us when we finish - i.e. the submitting-rejection-resubmitting cycle.

Apart from all the other excellent advice re Beta readers etc, I suggest using EFT, which involves tapping on acupuncture points to remove negative emotions such as fear. You can download a free report on how to use it, below.

Good luck!

torrentwaters
01-04-2007, 02:51 PM
Thanks Tracy but I don't Think it's that. I've finished and sent out several short stories. It's just this ms and couple others I'm having this problem with. This one in particular.

alleycat
01-04-2007, 03:04 PM
If you like, I can send you Stephen King's suggestions from On Writing on doing a final edit (Stephen King narrates it himself). I would need your e-mail address (by PM) as the file is fairly large. I think this would be "fair use".

As for coming up with new ideas that you can't get out of your head, I would still suggest setting your work aside but possibly starting a new Word file and whenever you have one of these brainstorms, put it in this separate file and then file it away for the time being. When you do go back to your work, you can look at your ideas and see if you want to incorporate them.

MightyScribbler
01-05-2007, 04:22 AM
If you're worried about typos, I've noticed typos in almost every published work. But I agree with what was already said, you can tinker with your MS for 10 years and still find flaws. Eventually you have to say "it is what it is." If, however, you show it to friends, a writing group, agents, etc, and if you hear the same complaint more than once, then that would be something you'd want to think about. Otherwise, have a little faith in the work you've done and stop second guessing yourself.

torrentwaters
01-05-2007, 01:19 PM
It's really not the little stuff I'm sweating, I know I suck at grammar and spelling. It's... well let me explain, there this scene where the MC goes into a tavern and gets some vial info, well it started off that she got this info from a lord then in the next edit/rewrite the bartender now in this edit/rewrite she gets it from a cleric. Every one who read it liked it fine with the bartender, but I wanted to change it to the cleric. Now this wouldn't be a big deal if it I didn't have to change a bunch of stuff later in the story to make it work. So now I'm wondering am I editing or rewriting or just making more work for myself?

KTC
01-05-2007, 04:07 PM
Don't reread it, Torrent. Send it out. Sometimes we writers take a pretty thing and beat it to death. I do it, too. You are at a position now of over-editing and taking all the pretty out. I have killed things by doing this. Have someone else read it. Take it out of your own hands and put it into the hands of another.

torrentwaters
01-06-2007, 02:22 AM
You're probably right, but it's hard letting go. Especially when you're not sure if it's up to snuff.

PeeDee
01-06-2007, 02:37 AM
You're probably right, but it's hard letting go. Especially when you're not sure if it's up to snuff.

You will never be the proper person to decide if it's up to snuff. Writers, like parents, are absolutely unable to make a fair and accurate judgement of their kids, or their writings (whichever you want to judge; it's up to you).

If people are reading it and not actively out to shoot you, then you're fine. Put it in an envelope, cover it in stamps, and send it to someone. Or more on to the fun and fascinating (*snickersnort*) world of query letters.

sassandgroove
01-06-2007, 02:47 AM
Okay here's the problem I've got this ms, it's done, but every time I go to edit it I find something wrong with it and back to the works in progress folder it goes. Now it's a piece I've had this problem with for a while. There's around three spiral notebooks kicking around with rough drafts that have been added to and deleted from. Not to mention the files on my computer. That's just for this one ms. I need an intervention for my editing problem. I guess the reason I'm posting this is cause, one I'd like to know if any one else has this problem and two should I just scrap this story? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.I haven't read the whole thread, but I will just say this: Nothing is ever finished, you just have to learn to stop in interesting places.

jmousseau
01-06-2007, 07:36 AM
What I do is step away for a few days and read it FIRST THING you wake up that day.... you have a clear head and you've been away from it enough to maybe catch little things you didn't find before (defeats your purpose, yes?). Also, ask a friend to look at it for you too to get their opinion.

proofeditwrite
01-07-2007, 09:06 AM
The trouble with a PC is that the ink never dries.

If you're finished with it give it to a fresh set of eyes and allow them to blueline the rough stuff. Fix that and then send it to your market and cross your fingers. Best of luck. Stop with the agony and start with the ecstasy.

Freckles
01-07-2007, 09:19 PM
I posted a message similar to this a few months ago. I seem to get stuck in the editing stage, thinking it's "not quite" ready to be sent on its merry way. To overcome this, I've bit the bullet and just sent it off. Chances are, it's just fine the way it is...you could spend months - maybe even years - tinkering with the wording, phrasing, but when it comes down to it, we're all our own worst critics! Good luck to you!

torrentwaters
01-08-2007, 12:46 PM
Here's what I'm going to do. Turn the whole thing over to the capable hands of my hubby to read. If he doesn't find any glaring problems. Off to the publisher it goes, I've got a couple I'm thinking of trying. Thanks for all the advice guys.

tenpenynail
01-15-2007, 09:50 PM
I'm on about the tenth edit of my novel. Every time I learn a new rule, such as removing all the "that," "as," and "was" possible, I make another sweep through it. I've removed all the over-used gestures, changed a lot of "looked at" to "turned to," and cut everything that doesn't move the story forward. I swear, this is the last time, though. I think there is a point where if you keep fooling with it, you'll write the life right out of it. There's a fine line between tight prose and dead prose.

*Drat, now I'm going to go through looking for that, as and was...aren't some times when 'was' okay?

*What is 'Beta?'

*Any other tips on editing?
I've cut 350 pages
I've had it read for continuity--it's okay
Had it professionally edited twice--they can't find any other place to
cut. One suggested I change some show to tell. [No thanks]

Stew21
01-15-2007, 09:59 PM
stop editing. STOP. Leave this one alone.
Then on your next one, so you don't do this again: do a basic read through for small editing issues, then print that sucker and retype the whole thing back into the computer in a new file. It will force you to read every line, every word, every punctuation mark, and you can do edits to it while you go. Then read it aloud, you will find the places you stumble a lot more easily if you read it out loud. Then leave it alone.
Just my opinion.

torrentwaters
01-16-2007, 12:54 AM
What I've done is went through and did minor corrections, eg grammar, spell check that stuff. Then I handed it over to my hubby to look over, after he pointed out a few small things, which I fixed. As of right now it is winging it's way across the world wide web to a epublisher.