Regan Leigh

When is your WIP well cooked and ready to devour?

December28

My WIP #1 has been taking a beating.  I have shredded it, moved pieces around, changed names, changed plot points, and re-written every single chapter in it.  It still has the same feel that it did before, I think, but it is NOT the creature I gave birth to almost a year ago.

I know it still needs work.  That’s why I’m still editing.

But I do wonder…  Does an author ever feel fully satisfied with their book?  Do authors continue to grow as writers and then crave the ability to re-work previously finished and polished stories?  Maybe they never feel like the last edit was good enough, so they never complete the book?

I’m just wondering, since I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully satisfied.  I know myself well enough to know I’d never leave a book incomplete. (Unless it just wasn’t working at all as a story.)  But will I ever be truly happy knowing the potential it might have with just one more draft? :D  Eh.  I don’t know.

Am I making sense?  I need food.  Maybe I’ll make more sense then.  Off to dinner…

Song of the day: iTunes shuffle says… This Fire by Franz Ferdinand

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7 Comments to

“When is your WIP well cooked and ready to devour?”

  1. Avatar December 28th, 2009 at 9:40 pm Donna Says:

    I totally know what you mean. I haven’t gotten there yet (although I hope to within the next month or so) but I’m sure there’s a moment when you go YES! THIS IS IT!, put the pen down and query the hell out of it while not looking at it the entire time. And I’m sure it’s completely natural for authors to look back at their older works and see things that they could tweak. If we do it now as unpublished writers, what’s to stop us when we’re published?

    At least you got your first WIP to a viable point. I realized 3/4 of the way through the first edit of my WIP #1 that I’d written from the wrong character POV. Not something that can easily be changed without a wood chipper. Needles to say, the thing needs an enema, plus reworking the context while still staying within the world. I love the idea too much to just let it die. But WIP #2 is the viable one for me. That bitch is hitting the town. Soon, dammit.

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  2. Avatar December 28th, 2009 at 10:47 pm Sandy Shin Says:

    Hi Regan,

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I’d be happy to do sketch for you – just leave me a comment with your character’s descriptions! :>

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  3. Avatar December 29th, 2009 at 6:43 am Brigid Kemmerer Says:

    I don’t think there’s ever a point where we feel like we’re “done.” I still look at my big MS and want to tweak, even though I’m at a point where I can’t change anything. I watched a Stephen King interview the other day where he was saying he can’t even look at “Carrie” anymore, because he’s horrified at the poor writing. Only one of the most well-known horror novels of all time. :-) He said his wife caught him trying to burn the manuscript and she ripped it out of his hands.

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  4. Avatar December 29th, 2009 at 11:21 am Chris Says:

    The first thing every writer needs to learn is that there’s no such thing as perfect. A lot of writers will always be in search of the perfect manuscript, making every single work shine to a degree that can’t happen. Once we get over that, the question of what makes something “good enough” is up to each of us. The more obsessive people will always look back at their work and see the things that they think could have been improved, but I think that’s the wrong attitude to take. I’d prefer to look back at what I have done, look at the things that worked well, and try to accentuate the positive. Plus, even if there are glaring things that cry out to be fixed, it only reinforces the point that you’ve improved, and isn’t that the whole point of working so hard?

    They say that hindsight is 20/20, so it’s easy to want to fix the past when you know what has happened afterward. The thing no one points out is that not only is it no fun, but perfection is boring. It’s the little idiosyncrasies that make something memorable.

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  5. Avatar December 29th, 2009 at 7:29 pm MacAllister Says:

    The short answer? No. You’ll never be satisfied. It’s never going to be perfect. I know a lot of well-published novelists who can’t stand to read their earlier books, because it makes ‘em crazy not to be able to fix what they now see as glaring problems.

    It’s like software: There’s a point where you just have to ship it, and figure to fix the bugs in your next release.

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  6. Avatar December 30th, 2009 at 3:21 pm cole Says:

    I think you can be satisfied. I think you can look back on a book the way you look back on any work or piece of art, or whatever, and recognize the choices you made were after you took them through several levels of consideration.

    For example, newspaper photography went through a period of extreme burning and dodging through the 1970’s and early 80’s. You’d take a black and white photo and expose the photo paper under the enlarger light for an extra minute or so, leaving just your main subject highlighted. A photo not “burned” was considered not to have “pop”. But then the trend came back toward more natural images, and any heavy manipulation was considered cheating, in a way.

    But the pictures we produced in 1983 were the best for for time. And I go back through my early portfolio know I usually did my best to choose the right lens while running toward a fire and all that young energy made up for lack of experience. It was the same for the accompanying text. Some photos I took were so time consuming and involved such great luck, that I’d never be able to reproduce their quality.

    So I think it changes from person to person.

    Just my two cents.

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  7. Avatar January 2nd, 2010 at 5:37 am Regan Leigh Says:

    Great feedback, everyone. It’s wonderful to hear all the different perspectives and advice. Thanks so much!

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