40 Days of 3 Questions: Day 35

Welcome to 40 Days of 3 Questions!

For the next few weeks, meet here every morning with a notebook or document to answer three questions about writing, about your status quo as a writer, or about the writing life. You can answer briefly and go about your day, or you can use this as a warm up exercise before your regular writing schedule. Whatever works for you, works for me.

Day 35 Questions:

  1. How do you know when your draft is final?
  2. How many revisions or editing passes do you make?
  3. Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft?

You may post answers in comments or keep your thoughts private–your choice!

And here is today’s pretty picture:

hand shelf

If a hand is going to come out of your wall, shouldn’t it be holding a vase of flowers?

10 thoughts on “40 Days of 3 Questions: Day 35

  1. How do you know when your draft is final? After the nauseous feeling decreases to the point where you can push the send button. You know there are still typos; even after six revisions.
    How many revisions or editing passes do you make? Six. A Copy Editor, a Line Editor X3 and there were still errors in the final draft that was printed! Grrrrrrrr. I paid them lots of money!
    Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft? yes, I paid beta readers. Of course I had my friends who are voracious readers read chapter by chapter as I wrote them. They were not people who would not be nice for the sake of not “hurting” my feelings.

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  2. My snarky answer to #1 is: when I’ve reached my deadline. Prior to having deadlines, I’d say: when all I was doing was changing words to make them different, not necessarily better.
    How many passes? 1. First draft 2. Serious revision to make sure all the story threads are tied up. 3. Polish (tinkering with words, deleting unnecessary words, adding necessary words. 4. searching for known overused words and fixing them. Then off to my editors for 5. development edit, 6. line edit, and 7. proofread. So, seven!
    I have a fabulous critique group and used to use beta readers but now my deadline is too tight, so my developmental editor at my publisher is my beta reader. I’m considering sneaking a beta reader in after I complete my developmental edits though.

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  3. I have an extremely hard time letting go of anything. My current project has taken me a little more than three years to complete and I have had to be strong with myself and say this Saturday is it. It’s finished whether I’m ready or not. I can’t even count how many times it’s been revised. When writing my short stories it is usually that goes over my final draft. Even then they pry it from my hands!

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  4. As Annette said, it’s done when all I’m doing is changing words, not making them better. Many revision passes, starting with checking all the bits of facts I marked but slid over in my speedy first rough draft. My passes include at least two paper readthroughs at the dining table, and one read-aloud-through. Those last really help with continuity issues and small typos I miss on screen. Then it’s off to an editor (thee, Madam DeFelice Long for the historicals), and more polishing. Finally to my editor at either Kensington or Midnight Ink, then another pass of putting in the editorial comments. Their copyeditor. Their proofreader. I no longer attend a critique group but they were invaluable for my first five or six books, and I don’t have beta readers other than my independent editors.

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  5. 1.) How do you know when your draft is final? Like others, either when the date has arrived or I’m only changing “happy” to “glad.”
    2.) How many revisions or editing passes do you make? I stopped counting — I revise until the deadline arrives.
    3.) Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft? I have a critique group that meets at my house each month. I give them raw draft material to get their gut reactions, then I use a fantastic independent editor before sending off the my publisher who gives me a development edit, copy edit, and then galleys to proof. I print a paper copy to help spot continuity errors. I don’t read aloud because my internal voice is too strong, so I use the SPEAK function in Word set to a male voice to hear the words. Works!

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  6. How do you know when your draft is final? Like Annette and Edith, when I’m changing words to make them different, not better, I know it’s time to let go. Of course, now I have that whole “deadline” thing to help me let go.

    How many revisions or editing passes do you make? Let’s see: revisions before sending to critique, revisions after critique, polish, developmental edit, line edit, proofread – so that’s six, but I’m trying to get it to 3 or 4 drafts on my own before it goes to an editor.

    Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft? Yes, my fabulous critique group and then the editor at the publisher (who is probably also playing the role of beta reader).

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  7. It’s time to let go when you’re changing words and then changing them back again. You have to accept that your ms. is the best you can write with the skills you have today, not the best you can write ever. I have a great developmental editor (Sherry Harris) who reads my books before I hand them in. I was in a writers group for 25 years, until we moved this year. Miss them!

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  8. 1. How do you know when your draft is final?
    For books that have a deadline, they’re done when I have to turn them in. For books that don’t have a deadline, when I’m sick of them. Actually, I make myself deadlines for those and try to meet them, but it’s not horrible when I don’t.
    2. How many revisions or editing passes do you make?
    I’ve never counted. I review what I’ve written the day before each day. Then I set the first draft aside for as long as I can afford to. Then I have a list I run through. I keep a spreadsheet that has the plot points, times, chapter, characters, etc, and I use that to see if any characters are out of action for too long. If so, I bring them in again a few times. I check each scene to see if I can add another 1-4 of the five senses. I put in backloading at the ends of scenes and chapters and stick in at least one three-peat (anaphora). I try to have a hook in line 16-20, which should be the end of the first page, and also at the ends of chapters (but not every chapter because that’s too predictable). Then I’m finally ready to figure out what my motif is and bump that up where I can. One last read-through and I send it off to the publisher. Or, in the case of my self-published series, to some readers. THEN, for the publishing houses, then I go through their edits, copy edit, and proof pages. I have no idea how many that is.
    3. Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft?
    Oops, answered this above. For my contracted series, I usually don’t end up with enough time for beta readers, but for the others, small press and self, I prefer to get a read-through. For the occasional short story anthology, I use a very good editor. I can highly recommend her.

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  9. 1. How do you know when your draft is final?
    Bwhaaahahaha. (She laughs hysterically.) I guess I take an analytical approach. After my first draft, and my several polishing drafts, I go back and make sure the story hangs together. If I changed names of characters, I try to make sure I’m consistent. Then I run it through HemmingwayApp and Grammarly. I hand it off to a few friends to read to see what they think and we discuss points they don’t like. I revise again. (Yes, I do HemmingwayApp and Grammarly BEFORE I hand it off to my reader friends because I don’t want them to be focused on grammar errors. That is when I feel it is ready to send to, well, Ramona. After she eviscerates it (hehe), I make the changes and send it to the copy editor. I make the appropriate changes and, at that point, I feel it is ready to go.
    2. How many revisions or editing passes do you make?
    As many as it takes.
    3. Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft?
    I use a beta reader for the final final draft. At that point, I am only looking for the reader to enjoy-read it, but if she/he finds stupid errors (wrong name used, misspelled word, grammar error). At this point, I don’t accept any plot tweaks or other deeper changes.

    I am fortunate in that I have 4 sisters who are avid mystery readers whom I can tap for various functions during my draft process. Being sisters, they don’t feel that they have to be polite about my creative work!

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  10. How do you know when your draft is final? Speaking of a short story …. I’ve read them over and over and they flow, no editing needs apparent and most important, I give the story a rest for a couple of weeks at a minimum, read it and it seems good to me.
    How many revisions or editing passes do you make? Again for a short story …. I write the first draft and then I work segment by segment for flow. If I’ve put in any facts, I do a careful review to be sure the facts are accurate. If I’ve described anything that’s physical, I do it myself to make sure it’s stated accurately. When I’ve done that I usually read it a few times to see what I missed, then work on those areas for the story as the whole. I do an editing review about then and fix any problems. Several passes through.
    Do you use critique partners, beta readers, editors to get to the final final draft? Not for short stories. It’s just me. But I am certainly thinking about the critique group.

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