The Problem With a Continually Improving Manuscript

Here’s a new frustration. As I begin querying and entering contests, I submit what I think is a polished draft. Then I take a class or attend a lecture and learn something new.

And when I come back to the manuscript with this new knowledge, I think it’s a piece of crap.

And I already submitted it to an agent and/or a contest.

Shit. So they are looking at what was my best work up until that date.

But then I overhaul the manuscript and make it tighter, clearer, crisper, and cleaner.

Well go me. I have a better manuscript to shop around, but I already sent out the last version.

At least when that gets rejected I can say it’s the old version and not the new version. Cold comfort.

Now I could hold off on sending out the manuscript until I know it’s perfect. But I don’t know when that day will arrive.

So I query the best of what I have. And keep working. Revising. Polishing.

But it’s frustrating because when I get contest feedback it’s on a version from 2-6 months ago.

I know you’re thinking wait until you do revisions before sending it out. I did. I did multiple revisions. I was content with it. Didn’t touch it for several months. Didn’t think I needed to.

But then you get some feedback and you start tweaking. Then you (gasp) grow as a writer and have to bring the entire manuscript along with you.

These are all good experiences. But they sure do make everything more frustrating.

How do you deal with your manuscript evolving with your writing skills? How many times did you think you were done only to learn something and start another round of revisions?


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4 Responses to The Problem With a Continually Improving Manuscript

  1. Tracy says:

    I know exactly what you mean! Live & learn, right? Oh wait, no, gasp! That’s a cliche! Have to ax all of those….

    Let’s do this again:

    I know exactly what you mean.


    See you Saturday.

  2. berry says:

    So maybe you and other writers should wait to submit your work. You might have gotten a book deal had you waited. I would not send out anymore until you are really done. You can only rewrite so much.

    Take a lesson from this.

    • You definitely should wait until you feel the manuscript is polished and ready to go. But my point was: you don’t know what you don’t know. So what’s a polished draft now will be something requiring revision in 6 months to a year. Even published authors deal with this. I met one who cringed when he re-read one of his books ten years later.

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