How do you know when to stop editing? When you’ve got double vision from poring over the thesaurus? Some writers, myself included, can edit endlessly always seeing another, better, way something can be written.
If you’re doing a course, or entering a competition these external deadlines focus your efforts and you’ll burn the midnight oil to achieve them. But if you’re working to your own schedule, it can be easy to move any deadline you give yourself back, and back a bit more if needed. And what’s wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with that at all. Every writer has their own rhythm and the only criteria should be that you are making progress and that you are satisfied with the progress you’re making.
It took me a full week to edit the first chapter of my second strand which was, for the most part, taken up with turning exposition into dialogue but there was an almost incessant tweaking going on at the same time. I’m not completely finished with it yet, although I won’t return to it for a while but I’m pleased that it’s metamorphosed into a more convincing narrative.
Being able to view your own work with analytical dispassionate eyes isn't easy but the more critical you can be, the better the result. I'm finding this aspect of writing is quite positive, because through the editing process I'm able to to demonstrate my development as a writer.
So how do you know when to stop editing? Well, you do have to make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes but aside from that there are some straightforward check lists you can tick. Has your character realized the goals/journey you wanted them to achieve? Have you checked that every sentence and piece of dialogue contributes to moving the story forward as well as bringing your characters to life. All of which will involve cutting - which is an integral aspect of editing. Then put it aside and move on.
Dappled sun flickers
Dances off shimmering leaves.
Eyes squint in pleasure.
Here are a couple of websites about writing whose advice helps me in my writing;
And if you haven’t read Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’, I would suggest you do.
For all book lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.
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