Friday, March 4, 2011

Are You a Perfectionist?

If the answer to the title question is yes, then look no further for advice than Jami Gold's excellent article A Perfectionist's Guide to Editing: 4 Stages.

Jami's words will strike a resounding chord with anyone harboring even vaguely paranoic perfectionist tendencies.

Jami says, "Perfectionists tend to be nitpicky, no surprise there. But there’s a time when that trait is very helpful, and a time when we need to ignore the compulsion to tweak. How do we tell the difference?"

That's a good question: how does one tell the difference between useful tweaking and compulsive (possibly ultimately destructive) tweaking.

Finish the Story!
As the song goes, "start at the very beginning" and that means "finish the story."

Jami: "Before we even start on the revision process, we need to finish the story. Many people give advice to not edit previous chapters before finishing the draft of the whole thing. Usually, the thinking goes like this: If we start editing before we’re finished, there’s a greater chance we’ll never finish the story and much of that editing time will be wasted further down the road."

4 Stages of Editing 
Expanding upon these four stages of editing this excellent article tackles:
*Revising - scene structure and character
*Dialogue, POV and motivation
*Polishing - grammar, sentence structure, use of words/adjectives/adverbs etc
*Tweaking - everyone's favorite! There is no finality about tweaking. One can tweak forever but that's when one has to rein in the tweaking tendencies and know when to say, "It's finished!"

Oh, but is it ever finished? Possibly not, but by then your product should be at a stage where you can submit it to the eagle-eyed agent of your choice. Good Luck!
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