Monday, June 4, 2012

How Many Revisions is Enough?

You’ve finished your manuscript. All the blood, sweat and tears you’ve poured into every word have been worth it and you’ve written THE END. Congratulations! Completing that first draft is a major accomplishment. Go ahead and celebrate, you deserve it. So many people never even reach that point.

But now---now comes the hard part. The word that can make writers' knees go weak. That word which can send a shudder down your spine. You know the one. Revision. 

You’re beautiful piece of art must now be hacked to bits. Words---the very ones you sweat and bled over---must be cut or moved. Entire chapters might need to be jettisoned. So buckle down and get busy. Revision is not for the faint-hearted as I’m discovering myself.  Try to look for the silver lining. Specifically, believe that revision will improve your manuscript. Truly, it will.

But how many revisions are enough? As with so many aspects of writing, this will vary from writer to writer and story to story. I’ve penciled in a minimum of three revisions and that’s before an agent or editor even views the manuscript.

What tips have you found when revising? How painful has the process been for you? How many revisions do you find yourself completing for each novel?


  1. Kirk,

    My best tip for revising is to let it stew for a while. I need to walk away and either start a new project or go through another revision on a different project first. When I return, I see it with fresh eyes.

    I also usually shoot for three or four revisions as well. :)

    1. Great advice, Carmen. A lot of writers rush right from the first draft into their revisions. Definitely a good idea to start something else and do all you can to "forget" that other story.