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Average Number of Rewrites? (1 Viewer)

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Senior Member
What is the average number of rewrites you do on a piece before you know it is ready for publication? For that matter, how do you know it's ready?
MJ Caan


The first are for style and content then the rest for grammar (in my case most of the time).


WF Veterans
I know you said "rewrite," but I just want to know if you really mean editing or actually reworking/rewriting the piece.

When I first started (as a journalist), I had to rewrite/rework my pieces several times before I could publish them. I hadn't found my voice and had to constantly reword everything because my writing seemed disjointed and rough. With a few years of practice, I got more comfortable with my writing style and was able to choose the right words more easily. Now I can sit down, think about what I want to say, and then type out a story that only needs a quick proofread and grammar check.

• the "level" of your writing—who are you writing for?
• how you want your readers to feel
• the best way to get from "here" to "there" in the funniest, more expeditious, or easiest way (choose depending on your story and writing style)

You'll know that your story is ready when you're able to read it with pleasure. That's what works for me, at least. :)


Three on average. Though for my current WIP, I think I'm on my sixth or seventh. It kind of depends on how long ago I wrote it and how lazy I was during the writing process.

Kyle R

WF Veterans
My current average number of rewrites (or "drafts") for the entire piece is about five.

But then in the final revision stage, (when I'm polishing everything as a last buffer), I rewrite some individual sentences anywhere from a dozen to a hundred times.


I rewrote my first novel three times.

Now, though, my writing is good enough that I only need to edit rather than rewrite.


WF Veterans
Hey MJCaan,

How long is a piece of string? But seriously, there is no right or wrong number of rewrites. As many as it needs is the answer. Usually the more the better. Rewriting is fractionally different to editing, though personally when I say rewriting I mean both, all of it. And so I rewrite lots. My current novel is in its perhaps sixth draft. And if the publisher goes with it there will no doubt be many more. The bigger the work the more you need to edit. So a short story might be picked over in a day or two. But a novel. Well, prepare for the long haul.

And when do you know it's ready for publication? When someone wants to publish it. Before that it's just a matter of instinct and a good head.

David B. Ramirez

Senior Member
I'm the type that writes the first draft fast and needs a lot of revisions.

I was a quarter of the way into my most recent book before I decided it wasn't working and started over from the beginning with a different main character and a different perspective. I did 2 polishing edits on it before putting it out there. After it brought me the interest of an agent (who rejected a previous novel of mine just the year before), I rewrote parts of it twice more before we put it on submission, and they were still significant changes--entire chapters were deleted/added/moved around, and a major character was changed a lot.

That's 5 so far. Now that I have a publisher, I don't know how many more times it's going to need editing, but I'm guessing at least 2 rounds.

Everyone's different though.
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WF Veterans
I edit/revise as I go, so 1 draft and then polish. But as others said, it takes what it takes. When the publisher doesn't send any more notes with "there's this one part...", it's done.


Senior Member
You can never just know when it's ready for publication. It's ready for publication when it's published. Period. I rewrite about four or five times, but then the book I'm discussing contract issues over now gained interest with my first draft.


Senior Member
I've rewrote thing numerous times. Sometimes I do it just to see if doing the story in a different way will be better. The current story I'm working on, I've rewrote it about 3 times.

Kyle R

WF Veterans
What is the average number of rewrites you do on a piece before you know it is ready for publication? For that matter, how do you know it's ready?

Even after publication I will probably still want to rewrite it. I'm just a perfectionist like that. Never satisfied. *slaps forehead*
I don't think there's really a "go to" number for rewrites, it all just depends on how well you planned the first time around, what you want it to be, etc...


Senior Member
I am glad I am not the only one struggling with rewriting.Hopefully I will know when my story is done, that I will be pleased once I read it. I hope I do not grow impatient and tired from all rewriting and editing I may do. I have been out of high school and college for so long, well not as long as others, that I have lost touch with my writing flow and reading comprehension.


Senior Member
With my first novel, I rewrote as I went. If I thought of something I left out or wanted to add, I would stop and add it or revise before I moved on.

If you do it like this then it is critical to reread because you may forget to remove/add little detail. I forgot to take out a few mentions of some details that I had removed near the beggining of the novel.
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