How Many Times Do you Revise?
When do novel or picture book revisions ever end? I’m always a new person, with a bit more knowledge and a bit more life under my belt. I could always make changes to the story. When do you know it’s time to submit your baby?
- My Best. When I’ve done everything I can right now. I try to revise as many times as necessary to get it right. If I’m happy with the story as it is, and I can’t think of anything else to try. And when I do try, it seems to mess it up, then I quit. For me, there’s also an emphasis on RIGHT NOW. Ten years from now, I’d do the story different, but RIGHT NOW (which is the only time we really have), I’ve done my best.
- Cool off. When I’ve let it sit for a while and still can’t figure out anything to do. Now this? I’m not so good at letting it sit. I want it out and accepted and published! But rejections have forced me to get better about letting a mss cool off. Time sometimes shows you what you couldn’t see before and you’ll know exactly where to revise. It might even, if you’re lucky, give you the right approach to improve the mss.
- Critique Group. When my critique group agrees with me. Ha! That doesn’t happen often enough. Sometimes critique groups make me feel like I’m back in junior high gossiping. As my son says, I don’t like all the drama. BUT, for the sake of my mss, I not only put up with it, but I encourage it. I need it. After a gossip session, though, I go away and consider and process and then approach a revision my way. Sometimes, it incorporates ideas from others, but in a different way or with my own twist. If I’m wise, though, I wait until my critique group likes the novel or picture book mss and then I send it out.
- Never. Some old novels and picture book mss are still in my file drawer. They need massive rewrites, I know. But for various reasons, they’ll never get what they deserve: the impulse for the story is gone, the story isn’t marketable today, I’m bored with the characters/voice/setting/plot/whatever. OK, I’ll admit it. Some sit because some critiquer made a remark that stopped me cold. Some sit because I don’t believe myself capable of doing the story justice. Some sit because, well, just because. Not all stories are meant to be shared with the world.
Be brave! Submit.