When Is A Manuscript Done?

I’ve been editing for some time now. It has been nearly three weeks since I started the process of cutting and manipulating seven chapters of the latest draft of my novel in order to submit it. I’ve found so many mistakes and plot lines that either needed to be removed or drastically accentuated that I am shocked I thought this draft completed in the first place.

This has caused me to do some serious reflection on what a draft is. I used to think that it was another step in the right direction, but a lot of times it is not. Lately I’ve deleted more words than I have kept. I’ve probably been more frustrated with writing through this process than I have ever been. However, I feel as though I am breaking through to another layer of writing that will make me that much better because of all of the toil I experience now.

The main question I wrestle with is, when do you know when a draft is done? You can have friends read it, have them pick over it and give their assessment, make changes based on those assessments, and then redraft. But at some point you have to get it out there. It might sound silly but at times I feel like I am coaxing a little bird along the edge of a branch preparing to push it off so it can take flight. The problem is I cannot be sure this little bird is ready to fly. I know I am ready to move on, but I don’t want to commit a novice mistake and get a rejection just because it is not ready.

I suppose it comes down to believing in your story. That your voice will shine through, and that the editor or slush pile surfer will forgive any inconsistencies that you missed. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will pluck up the courage to push this feathered little manuscript out into the world. I just hope it flies.  



4 thoughts on “When Is A Manuscript Done?

  1. This has always been a tough question for me, too. I recently realized the biggest mistake I made with my current novel was that I edited while I wrote, instead of keeping them separate processes. This is likely the reason it took me forever to finish it. I thought I was writing new drafts, when actually I was rewriting it in bits and pieces.

    I think on the surface I thought it was ready, but deep down I knew it wasn’t — because I kept picking at it. I haven’t touched it in about a month. That’s a long time for me to leave it alone. To me, that means I’m ready for it to be ready. If that makes sense.

    Good luck!

    1. I hear you about editing as you go, however, I am just the opposite. I blaze a new trail to the point where I am so far off the beaten path of organization that I need to take a step back and force myself to edit.

      I get the ready for it to be ready part. I think I will be there by the end of the week – done with picking at it. Hopefully! One chapter per day. Then submit it.

      Do you have plans to submit yours soon?

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