I have, in my Google Docs right now, about one dozen finished first drafts. They’re not edited. Certainly not publishable. But they have a beginning, an illusion of a middle, and an end. Draft one done.
So every March, when that old edit bug comes a-bitin’, it’s time for me to look in that folder and choose a file. All the file names look up at me, sometimes with fancy title graphics, like flowers waiting to be plucked and made into a bouquet.
That is, at times, the hardest decision to make. Especially being an unpublished author with no deadlines or platform to my name yet. The page is blank and I have a 96 pack of Crayolas to color with, but which color goes down first?
This past year, with #Pub2020, I’ve been able to choose based on what novel I think is most sellable. The Final Rose is a stand-alone fantasy. It’s got compelling characters that go through some shit. It’s got a fun plot. Perfect for a debut.
But other years? It comes down to few things:
Reading the first chapter and going, “Can I handle this much right now?”
Are there more plot issues than I can remember? How was the technical part of the writing? Is the genre something I want to work in at the moment?
If any of those are a “no,” it’s onto the next.
Is this a series?
What book is it in the series? Beginning, middle, end? Do I remember what happened in the last book? Does this involve an extensive reread of the previous books? Where’s my damn series bible?
Is this something I plan to publish?
This is usually the very last question. I eventually want to edit and revise all of my novels. Even those than only friends will see.
But if I’m going to take this whole “published author” thing seriously, I really need to make sure I focus and perfect those things that agents and editors will buy.
How long ago did I write it?
Six months, at least, or bust! It is very rare of me to even look at something I wrote so soon after I write it. I’m trying to adjust and reduce time between but I have a backlog to work on.
If it’s a short story, it’s a different beast. I used to participate in a competition on WriYe that involved writing a short story a week. My goal was always to write the story Sunday – Tuesday, then ignore it until Friday for edits. It wasn’t my ideal amount of time apart, but it was enough.
So what about you, readers? What’s your criteria for the time you decide a story should be edited? Do you keep a schedule that you plan in advance or is it what feels good at that moment?
Pen refills: 1
Scenes sliced: 5
Darlings killed: 3
Current Concern: Task and Ziove need a lot more set up to fall in love. More scenes are needed in the first half with their relationship blossoming. Need to find a way to add them while adding to the plot.