That’s right, I’m still revising the novel. It’s been almost two months since I thought I was officially finished. One of my favorite principles of writing has proven to be true yet again: Writing is rewriting.

Editing this novel has taught me that I tend to think it’s finished when I get tired of rereading it. This is just not true. The novel is done when it’s done, no matter how tired I get. I’ve heard some writer’s say, “If you’re bored with your novel, your readers will be too.” True, if you’re bored by the content of your own novel, then the plot most likely needs revision. On the other hand, I think that boredom during the revision process is natural, especially if you are truly revising the manuscript the way it needs to be revised. I mean, when’s the last time you’ve read any novel ten times back to back and maintained the same level of interest in it that you had the first time through?

Bottom line: When you become bored revising the novel, unless it is an inherently boring story, you are not finished. Most likely, you’re about halfway through the revision process. What do you do at this point?

Here are some tactics I’ve learned for pushing through the second half of the revision process:

1) When you think you are done, put your project aside. Revise it again from start to finish after a hiatus. I have found that 1-2 weeks is good. Some writers might need more time, some less. As one of my favorite writing instructors taught me, time + distance = perspective. (Thank you Peter Fox)

2) Repeat step one until you feel finished again. For me, this meant three more full edits.

3) When other people ask you what’s going on in your life, say “I’ve just finished my novel, and I’m looking for readers.”

4) If/when these people volunteer to be beta readers, take them up on the offer. Send them your manuscript and a synopsis along with an invitation for honest feedback. Lavish them with thanks.

5) Consider the feedback from your beta readers, and revise again. Remember, you do not have to take all of the suggestions you get, but be open and willing to understand where each and every comment is coming from. Be gracious and thankful to your readers, no matter how off you think their comments might be. All comments, belying your reader’s motivations or level of intellect, communicate something to you. Also, your beta readers will give you feedback about the biggies–plot, characters, setting. It is up to you to edit the sentences. If, however, one of your beta readers is well-versed in the English language and offers to proofread your sentences, welcome the help with open arms. Keep in mind, the manuscript is YOURS. You are responsible for making sure such corrections are accurate.

6) After you address the bigger issues that the beta readers point out, let the manuscript sit again. Let’s say, a week. Then, revise for those nit-picky errors, such as homophones, grammar, and punctuation.

7) Repeat step 6 until the manuscript says, “I’m ready to be taken to market.”

Advertisements