Sunday, November 14, 2010

When is Enough Enough?

When I first started writing, I was sure my first draft was my final draft; I didn't need to do any re-writing. A lot of 'writers' still believe that their first efforts are totally perfect and cannot be made any better. I know a few authors for whom this is pretty much true, but they actually do their re-writing in their head, where they ponder every possibility, every word choice before they commit any words to paper. The vast majority of authors still have a lot of work to do, even after they've written their first draft.

Personally, I know that after I've written my outline (in the case of a novel), I'll have a rough draft, and then three more drafts where I concentrate on one specific aspect of my writing, before I do what I think will be my final polish. Sometimes I'm wrong, and I'll wind up going through a few more drafts before I try another 'final polish'.

On the other end of the spectrum are those 'writers' who can't stop re-writing. And since they're never done, their work never gets submitted anywhere. They're looking for perfection.

I don't expect perfection. I'm not perfect, so how can I produce perfection? I look to write a good story, one that might move the reader, one that certainly doesn't leave them confused because the sentences are poorly constructed. Usually, after my three re-writes, my final polish is looking for typos, punctuation and an occasional phrase that could be tightened. Most of the time, that's enough for me.

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