How long should editing take

LloB1

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
29
I'm coming to the end of writing my first novel. I have a manuscript that will be about 420 pages. I want to edit the book my self and make corrections. I wanted to know how long should I spend on editing. I've had it in my head that if I commited myself to the editing process I could have a good first draft in 4 weeks. Im also thinking of doing one complete draft instead of many drafts, has anyone done this before. Is it possible to edit in such a short time. I just need reassurance that this is something others have done.
Thanks for your help.
 

Sapheron

Making no sense.
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
850
As long as it needs. Can't say I've ever finished, or even quarter finished, a novel, despite starting many, so my opinion isn't so important on this one (assuming it is on something else...). Yes, so, I personally believe that you should edit until you are happy. You shouldn't get into the mindset that you need to edit till it's perfect though, or you'll go on forever.

So, to give this a nice, circular structure, take as long as it needs.
 

LloB1

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
29
thanks for the feedback Sapheron. At the moment im in the mind set of like a professional movie editor who has a movie deadline to achieve. If i dont i'll never finish the novel.
 

WriterDoug

So it goes, so it goes.
Joined
Apr 30, 2006
Messages
147
It is nearly impossible to say how long it should take to edit the novel considering we are all different in the approach, and all our manuscripts differ in quality or "readiness" upon being first written.

I planned to spend 3-4 months editing my most recent novel, and I have actually been wading in this process for almost one year now. Has it been worth it? I would say so, since the novel is now superior to the form it was in back in May of 2006. Could I have done this editing much faster and achieved near similar results? Sadly, that is a possibility. I just can't be sure.

Edit for as long as you think it is necessary, in order for it to be the best piece of writing you can possibly produce. The last thing you would want to do is rush out a manuscript too quickly and have it be rejected for that same reason; the problem in this is, you will have introduced too many variables for why a publisher would wish to reject you, and it may prove to be difficult when you are trying to pinpoint these rough spots. If you know that your very best work is still being rejected, then you may need to apply some critical thinking into understanding exactly why instead of just quibbling over the minor rules of writing.

You might want to try something I am doing recently. Read each chapter of your novel, and then make comments to yourself what you really like or dislike about that chapter. List its strong attributes and then its weak ones; maybe the dialogue is not as profound, or maybe the narrative suffers in a few places. If you are a good critic to yourself, you will not be in love with 100 % of your novel unless you are either a genius or a softie. You will always value some parts of it moreso than others.

cheers,
WD
 

Anthony G Williams

Greybeard
Joined
Apr 18, 2007
Messages
1,225
Location
UK
I edit as I go along, constantly re-reading the last piece of work, and each chapter as I finish it. By the time I reach the end, the book is close to its finished state.
 

Susan Boulton

The storyteller
Joined
Mar 15, 2006
Messages
2,039
To answer the original question, it will take as long as it takes.

I would suggest, however, that once you finish the first draft you set it aside for a few weeks, if not a month or two. Then come back with fresh eyes. You need to be ruthless, be prepared to hack your work, reshape, rewrite and even be prepared to admit it is not the best thing since sliced bread.
 

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2004
Messages
15,423
Location
California
There is certainly no maximum time. If this is your first attempt at writing a novel, be prepared to give years to the project, if that is what it takes.
 

Dragonlady

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
400
I'm coming to see that sitting on it for a bit definitely helps. It's a few years since I finished the only novel I've got to completion. At first I stared at it and thought 'there's nothing I want to change' but the more time i leave it the easier it gets to see room for improvement.
 

LloB1

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
29
Thankyou all for your comments. I now see that editing takes on a very individualistic approach. Im in the same camp as Anthony G Williams, I have been editing a bit as i go along, making notes and corrections. The only thing i have to knit together are the contradictions and inconsistencies that arise when writing over a long time. anyway thanks.
 

the_faery_queen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2005
Messages
1,096
i spent 3 years editing my first book. i took bits out, moved bits away. even when it was accepted, i still wanted to do more. i guess there comes a time when you have to force yourself to stop.
and no matter how many times you edit it, there will be things oyu miss. i had an editor friend take a look and she found so many things i should have seen, but didn't. so i think edit it until you're happy with teh plot/characters/descriptions and so on. then get people to edit the finer points that you may well miss.
 

Marky Lazer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2005
Messages
2,856
It depends on how good your story is. If it's not good, it will takes years of editing, and probably you won't even finish the story. If it's well-written and only needs cleaning up, it can be done in a week. No one can tell you how long it will take unless they had a peek in the story. But chances are that it's not going to take you a week...
 

Laura Stamps

Urban Fantasy Novelist
Joined
May 3, 2007
Messages
91
Location
My magickal urban fantasy novels ("The Witchery Se
I always send my chapters out to magazines as short stories while I am writing a novel, so by the time I finish it I will have publication credits for the book, and good advertising in my bio (usually published at the end of the stories when they appear in magazines).

So I have a strange way of writing/editing a novel in that I finish a chapter (complete with 6-8 edits, or however many it takes) to the point where I would be happy with it when it appears in a mag. Then when I finish all the chapters and the novel is done, I go back for one last edit, making sure I add plot twists and changes that developed during the writing of it, last checks for spelling and punctuation, etc.. This usually takes about 4 weeks. Then the novel is finished and ready to be published.

The next day I usually start on my next novel, because I have been jotting ideas down all along and working out the plot and characters in my head as I finished my current novel. I've been doing things this way for so long that I am one of those writers who writes 365 days a year, year after year.
 

the_faery_queen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2005
Messages
1,096
even if it is good, marky, it can still take a lot of editing. it depends how long it took you to write it, i find. because you can change a lot as a writer from start to beginning of a project, if it takes a year or more, and then you can find that what you wrote at teh start, though good, doesn't neccessarily fit the writer you are now, or how you want to show yourself. or even how the story changed towards the end. i lost a lot of waffle from mine, in my editing processes. stuff that i felt was important at the time, that just wasn't by the finish.
 

Similar threads


Top