Friday, January 21, 2011

When to stop revising a manuscript

This afternoon I finished the revisions my agent requested.  To celebrate, I took myself out to lunch at Arby's and read the Golden Globes wrap-up report in today's Entertainment Weekly (cue Puddy from Seinfeld saying, "Feels like an Arby's night").

Here are the telltales signs I'm ready to submit a draft: 

1. When I read the scenes that don't require heavy revisions, my mind starts to drift.  I find myself heading over to Twitter to see what's going on with people I don't even know, checking in with IMDB for new movie trailers, and snickering at viral videos I'd normally ignore when I'm submerged in a writing project.

2. The wording that's been bugging me finally sounds right to my ear.  I spent over an hour working on three short paragraphs in a scene the other night, fussing and polishing, and by the next morning the section finally read the way I'd hoped.  Typically, when I reach the later stage of revisions, there will be about five or so key scenes that bug me until I pick at them and get them just right.

3. I finally stop rewriting sentences in my head in the shower and instead remember that I did indeed use the shampoo before I applied the conditioner.

4. I feel like I've fully endured my characters' journeys with them and physically experience their emotions.  Yesterday, I felt queasy when I read a newer scene in which my protagonist vomits.  I had been struggling with the sentence mechanics, but when I finally got the scene right, I honestly felt sick to my stomach.  Today I also teared up in a place where I've never done so before.

5. I get the tingly sensation in my stomach that's telling me it's time to submit.  The possibilities are wide open; optimism is high. You reach a point where you have to force yourself to stop obsessing over phrases and send that puppy out the door.


Ara Burklund said...

Yay! Sounds like you did a great job with your revisions! Love the recap, too. ; )

Cat Winters said...

Thanks, Ara. I'll keep you posted. Good luck with your latest submissions, and have fun in NY!