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When is it done? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

When is it done?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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DrG2
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When is it done?

Postby DrG2 » Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:44 pm

In the last few days,I
(1) sent a manuscript (novel) off that I started two years ago, and have done at least two major revisions, the most recent about 6 months ago. Paging through it, I wish I had done another edit.
(2) sent a manuscript (novelette) off that I initially wrote about five months ago, and did a major revision about two months ago. It didn't place in a contest, so I looked at it again before submitting it to a magazine, and there is not a word I would change.

I really wonder when a manuscript is done.

LilliesCarol
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Re: When is it done?

Postby LilliesCarol » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:11 am

I guess a novel is done when someone publishes it and you see it in print. Or when you have that wonderful check in your little hand. Or when your friend reads it and says, "did you really write this?" Sometimes it's all of the above.
Long, long afterward in an oak I found the arrow still unbroke
And the song from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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shadowwalker
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Re: When is it done?

Postby shadowwalker » Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:57 am

I would say definitely when it's published; when is it done before submission? When you're revising and not improving, just changing. When you reach that point, you submit and wait for the professionals to make suggestions.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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MookyMcD
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Re: When is it done?

Postby MookyMcD » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:48 am

My MS was done. :) Then I got a rejection and two R&Rs from very different agents telling me to change almost exactly the same thing (the same "same thing" the rejection said in the 8 pages of notes that came with it). :oops:

Now it's not done anymore. :o

James A. Ritchie
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Re: When is it done?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:09 pm

It should be done enough when you submit it. Once you submit it, leave it alone, completely alone, until after someone asks for a revision. Changing things after you submit a piece causes confusion, and often means you're changing the very things that attract an agent or editor it the first place.

The best policy is to submit and forget. Just leave it alone, no matter how tempted you are to make changes. Spend your time working on new projects, not tinkering with old ones that are already in submission.

If your manuscript is anywhere near professional, publishable quality, an editor will ask for specific changes, ones that make it work for him. If it isn't near professional, publishable quality, your tinkering is unlikely to make it so. Either way, you'll learn more by working on new projects than by tinkering with old ones.

When an editor actually asks for changes, the picture changes. Now you're getting input from a professional with a checkbook, and who has his job on the line. When he asks for specific changes, you'll learn a tremendous amount by listening to him, and by implementing those specific changes.

Until then, don't submit a piece until you're sure it's ready, and once you do submit it, leave it alone.

It all comes down to Heinlein's Rules For Writing. They work, and pretty much every successful writer I know follows them, even if they've never actually heard of them. Robert J. Sawyer has won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and gives the best breakdown I've ever read of what these rules mean, and how important they are here: http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm


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