New beginnings… or, please not another revision!

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Bridal Wreath Spirea in bud

Now that spring is officially underway, I think most of us are wishing for signs that winter is giving in and retreating. We all realize that where we live has a bearing on how soon we can expect to see buds bursting, but we’re more than ready for the return of springtime with its cycle of new beginnings. Then again, there are some beginnings I’d rather avoid.

Monday’s post was about a blogfest where we were to offer up the start of our novel for a critique that focused on showing voice. We posted the first 250 words and waited for our fellow bloggers to tear into them and pass judgment on the quality of the opening and its voice.

Brenda Drake is hosting this “Show Me the Voice” blogfest-cum-contest, and her instructions were to post it for critiques, then polish the excerpt until it shines, and submit it to be judged.

Have you any idea how many times I’ve revised that novel? I’d challenge you to throw out a number, but in truth I don’t think I remember exactly how many. Nevertheless, I tweaked those 250 words and, of course, found myself reading on to the end of the chapter. And, just like every other time I looked at it, I could see more possible changes. Oh, please… not another revision!

I’ve asked the question before, but still, there is that niggling uncertainty. When do you know it’s time to stop revising a manuscript?

I have a different novel in revision, and another new one in the works. I don’t want to begin revising this one again. In fact, I’ve sent the excerpt to Brenda, and I’m closing the file. I just can’t face it. So, unless someone can convince me otherwise, I’m off to work on my new story. ‘Bye now!

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13 thoughts on “New beginnings… or, please not another revision!

  1. johnlmalone says:

    Hi Carol. I stumbled upon this blog while looking at posts on writing. Yours seemed interesting because of its title. Although I am a poet — check out my blog, if you like esp. the march 12 one: The Six-Fold Path to Writing Success —- I acn answer your question: you know a work is finished when it feels right, not just for one day but a whole week. You’ve agaonised over a sentence here, a phrase there, but now you feel it’s just right — in fact, it couldn’t be any better and you’re ready to show it to the world!

  2. Katt says:

    How do you know when to stop? That’s the problem I always have—-it’s never good enough, it could be smoother, is there enough conflict???? It just goes on forever—-
    Great blog!!!
    Love ya
    Katt

  3. I’m slowly working my way through a major revision. After that, I’ll probably revise several more times, because a substantive revision seems to bring about the need for fine tuning after. Do I know when to quit? Not really? I hope I’ll recognize the time when it comes.

    I like the pussy willow photo! I played in wooded lands in my childhood, and pussy willows were abundant. I haven’t seen them in many years. Perhaps they grow only in colder climates. Blessings to you, Carol…

  4. elderfox says:

    Well you know how MANY many MANY times I’ve revised then got cold feet and quit…you, my dear friend, haven’t gone there, so don’t. In my opinion, you’ve been learning to FINISH and that in itself is very much a TREMENDOUS POSITIVE!!!

    See you later 🙂

    Hugs

  5. Great question … wish I had the an answer. The 250 words I submitted to the blogfest fell on its collective bottom. It is the fifth opening I’ve played with. The one good thing that came from that humiliating experience is that I know … 1) I need a stronger opening, and 2) we have very little perception of our work …

    I loved youg opening and I am sure the ending is just as strong. When we can no longer “see” … it’s time to give it to someone and get a reaction 🙂

  6. Shari Green says:

    I figure when the tweaks make it different, but not necessarily better, it’s time to call it done. It’s so hard to tell, though, because of course we are way too close to our own work. I think at some point we just have to take a deep breath and send it out to agents or editors for a “professional opinion” — hopefully we’ll get some feedback that will shed some light on the question of whether or not it’s ready.

    Have fun with your new story! 🙂

  7. Rebecca says:

    I didn’t take advantage of that blogfest because I’ve revised the beginning so many times I’ll scream! The funny thing was that because of all the revision, I over-wrote. A couple of my critiquers suggested some things that took me back to the very place I started from. I tend to overthink my work.

  8. joylene says:

    I have no idea. That’s why I’m coming back and reading these and any new answers because I would love to know. I know you have to stop eventually, and I did that with Dead Witness and Broken But Not Dead, … but it’s getting harder with my new WIPs. I shouldn’t say “new”, some of them are old.

  9. Jill Kemerer says:

    It’s so hard to know! I go through several revisions, and by the time I’m through the line-edit, I know I’m close. Good luck!

  10. A dearly loved but now departed uncle once told me that a true artist is never totally happy with his work. I suspect that bit of discontent is what keeps us striving to improve.

    Thanks for all your comments. As Florence and Shari have said, I think sending our work off for an outside opinion is the answer.

    Welcome to newcomer John Malone. Thanks for visiting here, John.

  11. Laura Best says:

    I recently thought I was done. I had my mind made up and then I woke from a dream that told me to make some changes with POV in my story. Now, this has never happened to me before and it was a bit weird. Still, I wanted to try it and see what the results were. You guessed it! I feel this contentment with the story that wasn’t quite there before. Do you think I’m grateful for that dream? Oh yeah and I know exactly where it came from…

  12. Jenn Hubbard says:

    I think it’s time when the sight of the ms. makes me nauseated and I’m doing things like changing “a” to “the” and back again.

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