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Old 08-24-2012, 12:47 AM   #1
gmw
cacoethes scribendi
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Overworking vs Getting it right

I recently re-read "On Writing" by Stephen King and this time better took in the advice he was given on one of his rejection slips: second draft = first draft - 10%.

I took this advice, along with my some of the comments from my appraisal (to the effect that I am too comprehensive and tell a lot that the reader doesn't need to read), and went over the manuscript for my first novel yet again. I was quite surprised to see that 10% dropped out of it almost without trying. Lots of lead-in and tail-off parts to scenes that didn't need to be there, and places where I effectively repeat myself. Some of this, I now see, is me having to learn to trust the reader more than I have been. So this much, at least, felt sort of reassuring. But...

This latest reworking felt different to me somehow; I felt more disconnected from the work (despite the fact that other editing passes have also taken place with months between them). I'm really not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, and it's hard to get a feel for whether the book is better for these latest changes or not. Thankfully a couple of my beta-readers are happy to re-read it, so I am hoping to get some feedback from them.

This is a long-winded way of opening a discussion about how much reworking of your manuscripts you tend to do, and whether you think there is such a thing as overworking the manuscript - and, if so, how do you tell when you have reached that point?
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