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This Is That Month -- by Dan Alatorre

When you are all finished with your manuscript, and you’ve run it through your critique partners, there is a big temptation to tinker with it. To have one more once-over, do some fine-tuning, and see about how much more to tweak it.

Maybe don’t do that.

Don’t fine tune your book into eternity. At some point, it’s not better, it’s just different.

What I do is send it out to beta readers.

On Poggibonsi: an Italian misadventure, I sent the “finished” MS out to 20 people to read and give me the general feedback. I wanted them to read it like a regular reader would. (Yes, there were some typos. Sue me.)

The finishing of the manuscript is a very difficult time for a writer. Some people want to keep polishing book one forever, and that prevents them from ever putting out a book two.
Others (like me) tend to think as soon as the first draft is done, it's ready for the world - and they launch it before it's really ready.

Obviously the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.

However, you have to be able to take some time away from your baby, to be able to be objective about it. Now, I will not pretend that any author is ever fully objective about their manuscript, but I will say that sticking it on the shelf for a year and then looking at it - with not ever having looked at it for the 364 days in between- you will be much more objective.

I actually did that once. Me. Can you believe it? (It’s called An Angel On Her Shoulder.)

But a year is too long, so I wait a month. I'm pushed hard to even wait that long. While my book is out with the betas and before we look at publishing it, this is that month. We wait. We develop what will be fresh eyes for it again.

Yes, I'm working on my blog and other stories, but I'm trying very hard not to look at my finished manuscript, so when my beta readers are finished I can look at it a little more objectively - and hopefully put out a better product

Wish me luck.

What do YOU do to put your baby down and walk away or to develop objectivity for your MS?.


Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.


And his blog at





Posted by Dan Alatorre 20 Oct 2015 at 01:25
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Responses to this blog

Demonqueen 20 Oct 2015 at 11:09  
Oh yeah, I hear ya. But I don't think it's a case of walk away for several months and then you can come back, magically revise it with a deeper knowledge of all its problems and then after a few months it's done. If writing is a road to discovery then revising is the road to REdiscovery, and you'll hit problems along the way that drive you into a ditch.

It takes time to get out of ditches.

I've been editing on and off for over a year now (before that I tinkered, not really understanding what problems I had with it). But you can't edit solidly with no breaks. Every time I walk away and come back to it I have a new understanding of the manuscript and how to fix it. When it comes to the stage I am not improving it, just making it different, as you say, I will know it's time to stop. Right now, I know it needs the changes I'm making.

BUT, I'd prefer to overdo it than underdo it, because too many authors sub too early and don't allow the time needed to really understand[ their stories. Under-revision has a much stronger odour to it than over-revision, I think, and is the easy option.

I am far along the road of revising/editing MS1, I have three other novels (trilogy/series - not sure which yet) in first draft format, and three other strong novel ideas with character sketches or early chapters. The only way forward I can see is to work on revisions and, when I need a break from that, work on a new project - either developing ideas for the yet-to-write novels, or writing short stories. When I need a break from that, I go back to editing. Usually with a clearer head. Because I am involved in a wholly different bunch of characters, setting, structure and problems, it creates the distance I need.

Don't read this as in: she'll never be finished anything juggling that lot, because the revision of MS1 is my primary project, the other stuff is fill-in, me making a little progress elsewhere and making sure I KEEP WRITING and don't stagnate. When that one's done, the next first draft will roll along the conveyor belt and the same process will go on.
Karlabran 20 Oct 2015 at 12:28  
I think Stephen King recommends three months, and you DEFINITELY get a different perspective stepping away from it after its finished. I went back and re-edited my first two books years later, shaking my head all the way through them at how much I've learned since then.
Bethanne80 22 Oct 2015 at 22:32  
I totally feel for you. I think it's very important to take a step away from your writing... I waited a full month after my rough draft before I started edits. And after the first round of edits, I waiting another week (just one week) before starting the next round of edits. And I'll completely step away again for the month of November while I do NaNoWriMo and write another book. It's hard, sometimes, to let it go. But I think it's important, and I think you're story will be stronger for you doing so.
Peggyc 23 Oct 2015 at 15:46  
I have a first draft sitting on the hard drive, and am determined to let it "set" for awhile.
In addition to working on three of my other first drafts, I've discovered helping a couple other fledgling authors in their revising/editing/revamping of their novels to be incredibly useful in getting distance from mine. It also is strengthening my skills in story structure, dialogue, characters, setting, pacing, etc. in the process.
Always easier to identify and help someone else with their issues, and hopefully I gain more objectivity for issues in mine.
It's helped me to grow, and the time invested is amazing and valuable to me, and hopefully to those I've been assisting.
While I've been successful in keeping the file unopened and resisted revising my own first draft (been a couple of months now), I do have a word doc where I'm storing thoughts and ideas to apply and try once I do.

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