re-drafting · WIP · writing blues

When Is A Final Draft Final?

Not long ago, I finished my manuscript. I mean really finished – left it to sit, re-read it, tweaked it to perfection, and submitted it to a publisher.

I was so finished, that after a brief interlude doing some procastinatingly dodgy DIY projects around the house, I finally progressed to the big and scary task of planning Book Two. So finished, in fact, that I’m a quarter the way into the first draft of said Book Two.

So why oh why oh why did I pick up Book One and start tweaking again?

At first it was a forehead-slapping realization that I needed to change the sex on two of my characters – it was the obvious critique. Easy fix. Done.

Back to Book Two.

Hmmm. If only I’d depicted this key element of my fantasy world in Book One. It’d make reading about in Book Two more natural. Just a couple more tweaks can’t hurt.

And while I’m here, look at this feature of my lovingly-built world! I haven’t explained how that works at all. Let me just fix that a little…

Huh! Would you look at this character?! Isn’t she a ditz in her introductory scene? Although I hope my tweaking hasn’t made her too cruel now…

That reminds me – would Felix really say what he says in scene 8.1? I know I was trying to make him a bit naive, but isn’t he now a slobbering idiot?

Speaking of scene 8.1, why on earth did I think paragraph six was funny? It’s not funny. I’ll show me funny by re-writing it completely…

Yep. It was at about this point I realized I’d destroyed my manuscript. Totally, utterly, annihilated it.

I also realized I’m hopeless, useless; capable only of writing shite. I should just step away from the keyboard, no-one has to get hurt folks.

Of course, I’m exaggerating (about thinking I’m shite, not about the tweaking; that part is unfortunately all true).

My point is: when is enough enough? When is a final draft final? How do you know? How do you know when to listen to feedback and when to ignore it?

Let me know what you think – has this happened to you? What did you do to get past it? Am I actually better at dodgy DIY projects than I am at writing after all?

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