How Do You Know When You’re Done Revising?

How Do You Know When You’re Done Revising?

Hi community of awesome! I’m Ava Jae, and this is bookishpixie. So, question from one of you guys. “How do you know when to back away from the painting, as my art friend says to me? How do you know when it’s done? I guess I’m not just talking about when your betas are happy with it, either. It’s more about that feeling you get inside
when _you_ know it’s done. I feel like I’m never at the point where I
can’t edit my manuscript just one more time, if you know what I mean. Also, there’s a little part of me that doesn’t
want it to be finished. I think this is because it’s like the door
to that world is shut, and that’s scary, and sad.” I think this is an excellent question because this is something that pretty much all writers and artists face. Because in creative and otherwise subjective fields, it can be really hard to know when you’re done. There’s this Gene Fowler quote you might’ve heard that goes, “A book is never finished; it’s abandoned.” And at least from a writerly perspective,
that’s true because there’s always something more you could do with your manuscript. So what I do when I’m revising is make a list of all of the problems that I need to address. And once I’ve done my revisions and addressed all of those problems, I look at my manuscript and ask myself if there’s anything else I
need to do. And if all I can think about are minor sentence-level tweaks that aren’t really important, it’s just me being nitpicky, then I usually know
it’s done. Because I can always move that comma back and forth or rephrase that sentence over and over and over and over, but if that’s all
I can really think of doing then it’s probably because there aren’t issues there that I need to fix. Or at least, there aren’t issues there that
_I’m_ seeing, that I need to fix. So for me the key is to revise until I’m left
with just the little nitpicky things that could go either way. Now I wanna address the second part of this question, too, about it being sad when you’re done. Because yeah, that’s partially true, I find
that it’s kind of bittersweet to finish a manuscript. But at least if you’re intending to publish,
you’re not _really_ closing a door; you’re giving your book a new life of it’s own. You’re making it real for other readers, whether those readers are interns, or agents, or editors, or if it gets published people who pick up
your book. If you publish your book it’s never really
over because there will always be readers experiencing it for the first, second, third
time. It’ll live on after you, which is pretty darn
cool. And if you don’t publish it for whatever reason then you can always come back to it later, so it never has to be over for good. Ultimately, finishing a manuscript frees you up for a new world. I like to think of finishing a manuscript
as a possibility to start something new. It’ll give you the chance to create new characters who go on their own journeys and write new stories, and the good news? Is that never gets old. So that’s all I’ve got for today! If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to
subscribe and comment, and I’ll see you guys next week!

Comments (19)

  1. *runs in a circle doing the Kermit freak* I needed this one! Thanks!

  2. Hi! i love your channel!

  3. Once the manuscript is at the publisher's printing warehouse, THEN and only then do I stop revising. 🙂

  4. I'm done when I curse the day I started it.

  5. omg! I just went through this! About 3 days ago, I submitted a short story for a publishing competition. It's nothing huge, but I thought it'd be easier on me to start small and feel like I can do it. After self editing, peer editing, pro editing, and great feedback from betas, I still had a hard time letting go of my word-baby

  6. It never has to be over, very moving advice.

  7. 7,742 subs good for you

  8. Short sweet and inspirational videos like this are good occasionally. Also Ava, could you possibly do a video on good sentences in the future?

  9. I had to watch the video twice. The first time I kept staring at the sweater. Thanks for the advice.

  10. Thank you!! Thank you <3

  11. That's a very interesting quote and so true! 😛

  12. I make the same kind of list. I always tell myself I'm done when I'm no longer making the work better, only different.

  13. This is really great advice. Thanks. I'm planning on using it as I finish edits on my first novel.

  14. How do you not have all your characters sound the same? I have the problem when reading through my book and all my characters sound as if they are all one person. Could you help me?

  15. I agree. I don't think you'll ever feel like your manuscript is done. I always tend to stop when I realize the changes I'm making is actually making my manuscript worse. Thanks to scrivener, I always save a copy of my drafts in different folders so that if I delete a scene or ruin a chapter, I can always go back and see if the previous work I did was better. If I notice I'm running into alot of that, it usually means at this point I'm just being a psycho creative and it's time to put the red pen down….slowly. Over editing can really kill the spirit of a book.

  16. Manuscripts or published books don't always have to be completely done. Revised and special editions volumes can be done. Like Director's Cut on movies and extended mixes on songs, more chapters can be added or be rearranged. I've finished short stories before and later come back and added subplots to them later. The point I'm trying to make is: fiction can always grow, all that is needed is inspiration to do so.

  17. im nowhere near the revising phase at this point, but my goal is to be completely done by the time I graduate high school (I'm goong to be a senior) and published by the time I finish college

  18. This post touched my soul. In the past it use to be harder for me to let go than it is now that is because there are so many stories that I want to tell and I want to start the next journey. The fact that the stories live on forever is so true. The characters never age. I am currently watching a series Gentleman Jack about a British woman in the Victorian age. The series is based on her journals which were written partly in code. Her story is now being brought to life with fresh eyes as they say and it is story that is important for the world to see. You are so write when your story is finished the story that world and those characters will live forever. Thank you for this post it really made my day.

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