How Many Edits Are Enough?


Many authors have a problem with editing and by that I mean, they don’t know when to stop. The more they look at their work the more they want to edit it. What if I changed this? What if I changed that?  Some limits need to be set otherwise, you realize, your work will never be published. The following tips have helped me so I am sharing them with you.  I usually edit my work three times and it usually goes like this: 

  • First Edit

First edit is about catching the big mistakes. Do paragraphs blend well or are you jumping from one thing to another too fast?  Do you give the readers time to absorb the situation or do you try to tell too many things simultaneously? Do you try to introduce characters slowly or do you introduce too many characters abruptly?

  •  Second Edit 

Second edit for me, is about observing how the story flows. I read my story out loud to see if it looks natural, if certain expressions need to be replaced, if there are any repetitions or things that need further explaining. 

  • Third Edit

Third edit is about making sure I stay true to the principle ”show not tell”.  It is the final edit where I make sure body language is used properly to describe emotions. 

Not everything works for everyone, but the above three edits work for me, and that means they can work for you as well. The important thing is to set edit limits for yourself, based on certain criteria, otherwise you will never stop editing. 

You can find more works by Mary Papas here.

One thought on “How Many Edits Are Enough?

  1. Great advice! My first book took over 20 edits. I now limit myself to six: the first 3 you mention, then another one after my beta-readers are done with it, then it’s off to a professional editor. Once that’s done, it;s time for the final proofreading – again, handled by a professional (like most writers, I’m terrible at proofreading my own stuff).

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