Not a lot of people talk about the chokepoints in writing. The industry as a whole focuses on two points: the creation of a manuscript and the publication of the manuscript. And there’s good reason for this. If you don’t have a manuscript, nothing else can get done. And publishing is a manuscript is how your writing gets shared and/or you get paid (sadly, it’s usually or, not and, but that’s another matter).
The thing is, there’s a LONG road between those two points. Once the manuscript is completed – and by that, I mean the first draft is truly done – you now embark on the long path of editing it.
Editing doesn’t just mean going through and correcting spelling errors and sentence structure. It means revising plot points, reorganizing character development, changing wording, all sorts of stuff. Some writers tackle this with blanket reviews: go through and fix whatever problems you find. Other writers deal with in themes: review for tenses and voice, then review the manuscript again for plot holes, then again for character development, then again…then again…
There’s no right or wrong way, merely ways that work (or don’t work) for you as an author. There are a lot of different approaches. What works for one writer won’t work for another. What works for one writer at a given point in her career won’t work for her again down the line.
The process of refining a manuscript from raw creativity to polished commercial art can be very long. Often, it’s longer than the actual creation process. This can be disheartening to any writer – expert or novice alike – but it’s a part of the job. Everybody likes coming up with the story; few people like breaking out the red pen and fixing it.
This is what can cause a lot of books to fall behind or even die in development hell. Editing is no small task, in any sense.