Monday, 24 February 2014

When do you say ‘I’ve done what I can’ and let someone else take a look?

I’m facing a conundrum at the moment in my writing life. I finished writing my novel. I’ve finished a third edit of my novel. I have a couple of writers whom I trust willing to look at it for me. And I can’t bring myself to let it go.

This is because I do so much editing these days and see the traps and the errors that others fall into on a regular basis and I’m scared I’ve done the same myself. It wouldn’t do for an editor to show a piece of her own fiction that’s not tip-top, would it? So of course I return to the MS and edit, and re-read, and edit again…

First thing to learn I suppose is that even editors find it hard to edit their own work. I know my own is far from perfect. I suspect there might even be fatal flaws. I’m confident the prose is as good as it can be, but even then… I pick up another nugget of fantastic advice from one of our reviewers about someone else’s phrasing mistake and suddenly realise that too could apply to mine. Rats and rubber rats.

Second thing to learn, if I don’t give it up for another view I’m not going to progress. I’m going to tinker at the edges for years. I was recently advised that a novel needed to be either contemporary or set decades ago – unless there was a big reason for it being set at a particular time. Well, mine missed the contemporary boat some years back and while there is a reason for its timing, it might not be one that washes with agents. But if I carry on editing and re-reading and editing, chances are it will be set several decades ago! Maybe not a good idea, not if I ever want to write Another Novel.

So here’s my promise to you, faithful readers. By the time I write again for this blog I’ll send my novel out to at least one other person. And I promise to post again by April 1st. I can do this...


  1. So what would be the best way of finding a competent, reputable editor?

    1. There are many editors advertising on the web and in press and it's important to find someone you trust. Testimonials are a good guide, and you can always ask your would-be editor for customers you can contact for references. Someone who is busy is always a good sign as is someone who will take time over your work. An editor who says they will return your 100,000 word novel within a week is not someone I'd be comfortable with. Here at Fiction Feedback we have a stable of professional editors and we do our best to match the experience they've had working with authors in particular genres with new work. We have structural editors, copy editors and people who do both. Please email us on info@ if you'd like more information, including details of past customers to contact.