26 January 2012

How Many Edits Does It Take?

How many edits does it take to finish a novel after the first draft is completed?

Much like the elusive question, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" this is a question that may never be answered. But there really is not a right answer, and the answer will vary depending on the author.

There are certain authors who subscribe to the "look through [one aspect] in the first edit, and change [another aspect] in the second edit, and so on" camp. I'm not one of these. I simply work my way from start to finish, and then let it set for a little while, and then repeat. I'll often times put in electronic notes for myself, to review the next time around, but I'll do this at the same time as I'm working on correcting typos and grammatical issues.

I've also seen some authors who think that short stories shouldn't be edited at all (or perhaps a cursory spelling and grammar check). I personally think this is crazy, because even the best author is going to make a major snafu from time to time, and taking the extra night to make sure isn't going to make or break your writing career.

Ultimately, my edits are finished when I feel I've done the best job I can, and then I send it off to the publisher or start formatting it for the self-publishing gig. Only you as the author can best judge when it's ready, and hopefully you've honed your skills enough to have a good idea when that should be. At the moment, I'm working on final polish edits on Death Brings the Victory. And I've already decided that this is going to be the last one.

So, feel free to comment...do you subscribe to a different plan for edits?