KNOWING WHEN REVISIONS ARE DONE
Since I talked a little bit about revisions last week (piece found here) I thought I would touch on a question I've been asked before, and have asked myself as well. How do you know when revisions are done? I mean there's no special number that will tell you when you're finished. You don't have to reach a certain number of drafts and then be awarded the 'I'm done' sticker. It's not a simple answer and it's something that I know has plagued a lot of writers.
I can't tell you how many drafts it'll take to get your book up to shape, but I can tell you things to look out for, hints that maybe you have done enough of the revisions that it's now time to move onto the next stage, which can be betas, or querying, or a mix of the two, or if you're indie like me, then betas and moving onto the professional edit. So what are those hints? Glad you asked.
HINT #1 THERE ARE NO BIG PICTURE ISSUES
When I say 'no' I don't mean that it's perfect because that's never going to happen no matter how much you, and other people, work on your story. There's no such thing as a perfect book, so drop that idea now, it will help you in the future. I do mean that when you've gone through it, however many times that has been, you're not seeing glaring errors, or plot issues that derail the story. You're not thinking to yourself that you still have to fix this big plot hole, because hopefully, the majority of them are dealt with. I say majority only because betas and such will probably find more, and that's completely normal.
HINT #2 YOU CAN'T SEE PROBLEMS ANY MORE
Again, it's not gonna be perfect, but if you're starting to read through it again and again, and can only find the small grammar and spelling issues, then you might be at the point where it's time to get someone else, whether that's betas or a critique partner, to have a read through it to point out anything that you've missed because you're too close to the story as a whole. There will always be things that you miss, and that's down to you being the one who wrote the story and have it on repeat in your head.
HINT #3 YOU FEEL OKAY WITH THE IDEA OF OTHER PEOPLE SEEING IT
I don't mean that you feel like you could upload it to Amazon and sell it, but that you feel okay with sharing the manuscript with other people and seeing that they think. It might be that you, personally, don't ever get to this stage. I still get nervous when I send things out to betas and my editor. I've been doing this for a number of years and while I know that it will never be perfect, I get anxious doing it. If that sounds like you, take this hint with a grain of salt.
HINT #4 YOU CAN'T SEE HOW TO CHANGE IT ANYMORE
This kinda ties in with the second one, but if you've been revising and rewriting to the point where you can't see where to go next, it might be time to bring in betas and CPs and see what they have to say. I don't meant that this means you're done and it's never gonna be changed, but that again, you are too close to the book and can't see how to make changes that might be glaring to other readers.
And finally, HINT #5 CHANGING IT MORE WILL CHANGE THE STORY AT ITS CORE
This isn't always a bad thing, sometime the story you started with isn't enough to carry the work all the way through to publication, that happens to us all. But if you get to the point where you don't see how you can keep the story as you wrote it and still keep making changes, then it might be time to get that second set of eyes, those other people who can maybe give you a nudge in the right direction.
As I said, it's not easy to know when revisions are done. You work on it for as long as it takes, and giving you a magic number of drafts, or time, isn't going to help anyone because every writer is different and every story is different. Like, it took me several drafts to get one project ready for betas and edits, and it's taken me a handful for another project. It varies wildly because at the end of it all, it depends on the story, on what you're trying to do, and how you wrote it at the time.
I'm in the midst of revisions right now, which it seems to be a permanent state of things, I am usually always in the midst of revisions, and I am thinking, at the time of writing this, that I'm so close to getting betas, but then I just want to check it one last time, and it might be that when I do, I realise that I've missed something huge and it needs more work. It's all up in the air.
However long it takes, good luck with your revisions and lemme know if you have any questions in the comments below!