Edits and Revsions – When is Enough Enough?

Proper ConductWhen I set out to bring my books into e-format, I’d first thought I wouldn’t edit them. Then I did the first book, and I did edit. With Proper Conduct done and coming on sale now in electronic format, I’ve gone a step beyond that. I’ve revised the ending.

Now, there’s a story about JRR Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, that he was very late with delivering the manuscript for one of the books and someone finally showed up, boxed it up, took it from him, but as it was being carted off for publication, he called out the window that there was one more edit he needed to make. I don’t know if it’s a true story, but I suspect there’s truth in it in that we all want to correct our mistakes, and if you’ve grown up with that urge to perfectionism, you really want to go back and edit. The joy of electronic media is that we can now do so. It’s also the curse.

This doesn’t mean the book I’ve edited ends differently–the hero and heroine still get together, there still is a happy ending. However, when the book came out in print I had the restriction of paper, meaning a hard physical budget. My choices were a longer book and smaller type font, or keep it under 80,000 words, and I was already pushing that.  So I ended the book with the heroine and hero together, but I did read the reviews and I had to agree with a few of those who wanted a bit more.

Sometimes you just need that extra bit of afterglow, that emotional wrap-up that goes with the story to show that these two characters actually have done more than make that leap into love–they’re also going to be able to maintain the relationship. Sometimes you just need to show them getting along as they’re going to be getting along.

Now there are times I’m impatient with a book that drags on a bit much–none of us care for those guests who stay and stay and keep on until dawn. But there is such a thing as an end that comes too soon which leaves you wanting that extra bit more. I’m hoping I’ve erred on the side of enough without too much (or maybe it’s still not enough–it’s so hard to tell when you get that close to the work).  But there it is.  I’ve added edits, now, I’m revising myself.  And I’m already thinking about a couple of books where I wanted those extra scenes and just didn’t have the page count for it (or the time on the deadline).

But I do see the danger here, where one can revise and revise and never get to anything new. So I’m going to have to learn to balance this. For now, Proper Conduct is out on Smashwords with a fine new cover by Albert Slark, who also did the original cover, but I love the new cover.  It should also be showing up soon as well on Amazon.com for Kindle and BN.com for Nook.

I’m bringing out A Proper Mistress next, and while I don’t anticipate changes there, as I convert the book for electronic formatting, I wonder if I’ll find that I need a new scene, or an extra bit somewhere in the book.  It’s actually more fun to go back to these characters than I’d thought it would be, and now I can see why folks return to their old schools and go back to hang out at the old playground. The really interesting thing will be to find out if I have made the work better–or if I’ve just made it different.

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