“The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a person’s determination.”
~Tommy Lasorda

Final Drafts

See that picture? The one showing a bunch of words splashing their way across my computer screen? It’s proof that, as of a few hours ago, I am officially finished major edits on this manuscript. I was going to snap a shot of me crying (seriously), or cheering, or running through the house and celebrating with a chocolate truffle, but, well, that probably would’ve made me look like a Crazy Writer Gal. Actually, truth be told, I did turn on the webcam to do a thumbs-up photo, but that resulted in my laptop deciding to freeze and me nearly having a panic attack because, while the final draft had already been saved and emailed to myself, it hadn’t yet been transferred to an external hard drive. Talk about a not-fun way to celebrate the end of edits. Thankfully, all is well in computerville, so I thought it would be fun to throw out some stats about how the revision process has gone. Here we go…

First draft = 208,691 words (yikes!)

Second draft = 189,518 words (-19,173)

Third draft = 184,999 words (-23,692)

Fourth draft = 160,537 words (-48,154 )

Fifth draft = 151,896 words (-56,795 )

Sixth – and final – draft = 113,147 words (-95,544)

To compare another way … The first draft? 626 pages. The final one? 359 pages. See?

Page Marker

(BTW – is it sad that it bothers me not to have it end on pg. 360? Round numbers seem so much nicer!)

Anyway, as you can see, this last round of revisions has been particularly strict (long? tormentuous? never-ending?). There were days when it felt like edits would never be finished. There were days when I felt like tossing the computer straight through the window. There were days when all I wanted was to start brainstorming the next book, because seriously, four and a half months without writing has been a true challenge. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, because there were a few rare times when I got to add new words, new sentences, new ideas to the manuscript, and let me tell you, it was ridiculously exciting. Yes, I’m the person who gets a thrill out of creating more work. Though, and I honestly mean this, even though these edits have felt like a Herculean task, even though there were times when I couldn’t imagine finding anything more to cut out, even though there were times when the light at the end of the tunnel looked impossibly far away, it really has been a work of heart.

The book I have now is so much stronger than the one I had in July. It’s more show, less tell. It’s more concise, less let-me-state-this-idea-again-just-in-case. It’s more dialogue, less exposition (which, granted, is tough in a novel that’s written entirely in diary format, but still). It’s more tightly crafted, less loosely wound. Numerically, it’s less, but story-wise, writing-wise, it’s more. And yes, there were scenes I hated to delete. Part of me is still a bit bitter that Mr. Whistler’s role was diminished so drastically. But another part, a bigger part, is so happy and proud of how shrinking this book has made it grow. Will I ever write a manuscript that’s twice its suggested length again? That’d be a whopping NO WAY. But, on the other side of this editing journey, do I regret starting at that point with this one? No. I don’t. It was the escape I needed during a horribly difficult time, and I will forever be grateful to my characters for that. It was also a lesson in so many aspects of the revision process. I have a much better eye now for what’s necessary to a story and what’s not. Deleting words, sentences, even paragraphs and scenes, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Sure, I still wish I could share EVERYTHING about my characters. I wish I could make everyone love them like I’ve grown to over the course of writing these past two books. But maybe it doesn’t take thousands of little details to achieve that. Maybe it only takes hundreds. And, like I’ve experienced with my favorite books, sometimes it only takes one or two. Will my characters ever resonate for people the way others’ have for me? I don’t know. I can only hope.

For now, though, I’m going to give myself a little break. As much as I want to jump right into brainstorming and planning the next novel, I am forcing myself to take a week to relax (that means no querying the previous MS, either). I’m going to read. Finish holiday shopping. Visit friends. Watch movies. Take walks. Go to concerts. Organize all the papers and other assorted items that I’ve let pile up while I worked, worked, worked like crazy. I’m going to have a celebratory milkshake, or maybe a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, and I’m going to give myself a little time to decompress, rejuvenate, and just breathe.

And then I’m going to leap back into the work that brings me endless joy even when it makes my eyes bleed and my thoughts spin. But, this time, I’m going to do it with an always-present reminder: sometimes, just sometimes, less really is more.


19 thoughts on “EDITS ARE FINISHED!

  1. First of all, HUGE congratulations. I am so proud of you, and so happy for you, and so excited to see what comes next. (After your well deserved break, of course.)

    Second, well said.

    “The book I have now is so much stronger than the one I had in July. It’s more show, less tell. It’s more concise, less let-me-state-this-idea-again-just-in-case. It’s more dialogue, less exposition (which, granted, is tough in a novel that’s written entirely in diary format, but still). It’s more tightly crafted, less loosely wound. Numerically, it’s less, but story-wise, writing-wise, it’s more.”

    This whole post is such a great reminder of how important revision is, what a difference it can make for your story. Those word counts really illustrate the point. Funny how much numbers can say about words, huh?

    • Thank you so much!!

      I agree whole-heartedly: it is truly amazing how the revision process can make such a difference. I’ve read so many interviews and blog posts from authors where they discuss that, but to actually experience it firsthand definitely drove home the importance. Not that I haven’t done edits on previous manuscripts, of course, but this time … it was absolutely its own kind of journey. Like you said, sometimes words really can be impacted by numbers.

  2. Oh, I am SO, SO, SO happy for you, and proud of you (and seeing your word count drop down…it gives me hope that I can get mine to something a bit more reasonable too). You are totally allowed to act like Crazy Writer Gal right now – you’ve earned it, for pushing through with this.

    Lol, I can totally understand wanting to end on an even number!

    And I can tell you, that even if I didn’t know EVERYTHING about your characters, even if I didn’t get all the details I got the first time I read both ROM and DE, I’d still love Sofie and Gang just as much. And I’m very convinced that everyone else will love your characters as much as you do, though possibly a smidgen less because I feel like, as the Mommy of your babies, no one will ever love them as much as you do (but everyone else is just a half-step behind, truly).

    • I KNEW you’d get the whole wanting-to-end-on-an-even-number thing. What is it about writers that makes us focus on details like that?

      Thank you, as always, for all the kind words – and, of course, for being so supportive throughout this whole experience and for reading DE when it was at its wordiest ;) I apologize for sticking you with that version. Seriously, though, it means the world that you love Sofie and the gang. I think that’s always part of our most fervent hopes as a writer, that our characters resonate and matter. Lenny and company did that so strongly for me, which is why I am positive that they will for others, too, even when (not if – because I know you can do it!) you lower the WC on your baby. That’s the best feeling as Mommy to our Book Babies, isn’t it? Watching them take their first steps in the world?

      Thanks again :-)

  3. Wow…I really hope you do celebrate with a entire box of chocolate truffles after that. Is this the 2nd novel you have fully completed then?

    I’m wondering though that at 113,000 words – is it a fantasy? (from my research I’ve noted that longer word counts for anything other than fantasy-realm is not standard). But I’m just curious!

    Again, congratulations. I’ve started working on something but have stalled in a serious way. I think its because I had no outline. So I’m debating just continuing to write or sitting down for a day to plot an outline and then start the whole thing over again.

    • Thank you!!

      This is the third novel I’ve completed (and the sequel to the second one). Each has truly been its own journey, and even with this one, where it was such nonstop work, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s women’s fiction — yes, 113,000 is a bit on the long side for that, but I’ve read some books in the genre where the WC hovers between 105,000-110,000 (according to the writers), and from the research I’ve done, most agents say they’re willing to be a bit flexible with the WC guidelines at first. Would it need one more round of edits eventually? Probably, but for now, I’m really content with how it has shrunk and where it is :)

      Good luck to you with your new project! Did you decide to go back and outline? It’s obviously different for every writer, but I’ve always found that having a loose framework is so helpful!

  4. Another question: when you edited it, did you sit down and essentially re-write entire sections (or was it just snippets here and then and cut-outs?

    Also, do you use MS word document, just open it up and type away or do you section and file things in different folders and such?

    I hope you have the wine and chocolate out dearie.

    • For me, editing mostly involved cutting things out. Sometimes that involved smaller rewrites (to explain/phrase things more concisely), but that was more the exception than the rule.

      I keep everything in the Word document. Organization-wise, I like to have it all in one place, though I know other writers are huge fans of using different folders. I do have each draft of the manuscript as a separate file, though. That way, I can always add something back in again if need be.

      Thanks again!! :-)

  5. I can only hope and pray that I will someday be half as devoted to my writing as you are. I know I say this all the time, but you really, truly do inspire me to want to be more serious about my writing all the time. Because for me, it’s really hard to find the time in the craziness of life to devote to it. No matter how badly I wish it could be all I do, it can’t right now, but I ALWAYS sit down to write after reading your blogs with fresh passion and desire to get the stories, ideas and characters mulling around in my head onto paper. I am so incredibly grateful for that.

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you ate truffles, a milkshake AND a peppermint mocha today ;)

    • Katie! You are ABSOLUTELY as devoted to your writing. Just because you don’t have as much time to focus on it with everything else going on doesn’t negate that. Your passion for writing is so obvious and inspiring. Don’t ever play that down, got it? :-) Also – if you ever feel like sharing, I’d so love to hear all about the stories and characters who mull around in your head!

      And … thank you! I’ve been dealing with a stupid sinus infection since Saturday (seriously – started not feeling well only a couple hours after finishing edits), so no milkshake or peppermint mocha yet, but definitely sometime this week ;-)

    • Thank you so much!! As seemingly never-ending as it was sometimes, all the hard work and countless hours were so worth it. I’m thrilled with how it’s changed from the first draft until now. No celebrations yet (dumb sinus infection decided to rain on my parade), but tomorrow is Jingle Ball with Kelly, so I think that’s a good way to start :-)

      Thanks again!!

  6. Yay! I’m so happy for you! :D I can’t wait to see your novels (because there will be many) on the shelf someday!! You inspire me to get started on mine. :)

    • Awww, you are too sweet! Thank you very much for all the kind words and good thoughts. They’re most appreciated. Best of luck with your novels, too! Do you have a specific project in mind?

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  8. Once again, congratulations!!! You have accomplished so much with these revisions and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to see what type of reception this book receives! Oh, and yay for learning about writing through revision.

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