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Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic
And my ever patient crit partner wrote back to ask what I'd done. Was the story good? What was I changing?
Then my crit partner said, "You're rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."
It's true. There comes a time when editing is no longer productive. Where an author finds themself changing the wording back and forth without ever changing to story. Times when the editing has become a form of procrastination.
Is the manuscript perfect? That's the wrong question. A manuscript will never be flawless in the author's eyes. And the chances that a typo slipped while you changed that one paragraph fifteen times are high. But editing has to come to an end.
I'm still not sure I've figured out when a manuscript is flawless. And I still think it's easier to tell with shorter stories. Novels are wily beasts, novellas more manageable, and short stories are sweet lambs when it comes to editing. Although I might be biased because I rarely write (or edit) short stories and I've edited more novellas than novels.
So, writers, how do you know a manuscript is done? What's your indicator that lets you know it's time to kick the baby out the door to sink or swim?