Have you heard of the term over-editing? If you’re a fiction or non-fiction author, you’ve probably run across this term more than once. It obviously means, you’d done too much editing on your current manuscript, but what is the definition of too much editing?

Over-Editing – A Definition

Over-editing occurs when the editing process fails to move the book forward or make the content of the book cleaner and/or more appealing to readers.


I understand that the definition is extremely vague, so let’s add some definable ideas that are actionable. If you find yourself re-editing the same paragraph, chapter or section over and over again, you are over-editing. If at any point your editing hinders your forward progress, you are over-editing. The editing process on your manuscript should not take years. It should take a couple months at most. This, of course, assumes that you aren’t editing a book full of technical information or math problems, but for the majority of writers, self-editing should take a couple of months at most.


Signs You Are Over-Editing

  • You’ve edited the same section, paragraph or chapter more than a dozen times by itself.

  • You’ve completed more than 10 drafts on the same manuscript.

  • You feel like every word needs to be perfect.

  • You can’t show it to anyone cause it’s still not perfect, even after numerous edits.

  • You feel like your book is never going to be finished.

  • You’ve had enough of th editing process to the point where you are fed up with writing.

Why Authors Over-Edit

Authors tend to over-edit when they become convinced their work isn’t good enough or that they are not good enough. They also tend to over-edit because they want every reader to love their book, and they are striving for the absolute textual perfection that will make everyone love their words, story and characters. 

Let me just say that I’ve never met a bad writer or a writer with a bad idea for a book. What I’ve seen is manuscripts that still need work, or authors that are terrified of their books, themselves, what people think of their work.

My biggest piece of advice is never get so caught up in writing perfectly that it halts your forward mometum.  If you catch yourself over-editing, get a second pair of eyes.  Whether that's one of your friends, another author or a professional editor that you want to provide you with a SUCK or NO SUCK answer, I recommend you do it just to stop your editing-cycle.  To prevent it in the first place, keep reading.

How do I Stop Myself from Over-Editing?

As an author, you want to turn out your best work every single time, but you also want to eliminate the tendency to keep editing your book into infinity, never publishing it and possibly ruining it. The least expensive way to prevent over-editing of your current manuscript is to utilize my article on How Many Drafts Should You Put on a Fiction Novel? That articles utilizes a five draft method, including:

1. The Junk Draft

2. Structuring Draft

3. Rough Draft

4. Analytical Draft

5. Final Draft

It may take you fewer drafts then this or a couple more drafts than this, but no matter what you do, once you finish drafting, always perform a final book edit before publishing your book. If you think you are going to need the services of a developmental editor, I recommend getting that developmental edit around draft 3. If you are going to utilize beta readers, which I caution you against due to my knowing more than one author that had their books stolen and published by beta readers before the original author could finish them, do that after draft 4.

Another way to prevent over-editing is to utilize Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print. Specifically, you want to pay attention Chapter 5 – See How It Sounds, which is related to dialogue and creating characters that have their own unique voices, Chapter 10 – Once is Usually Enough and Chapter 11 – Sophistication. Another good book to have in your arsenal is The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. This book will help you clean up and tighten up your writing very quickly.


Read More on Editing

  1. What Is Over-Editing, and What Can You Do About It? ...
  2. 6 Tips for Performing Your Final Book Edit Before Formatting and Publication
  4. Should I Hire an Editor for My Novel Before Submitting It to an Agent?
  5.  8 Tips on How to Quickly Self-Edit a Novel
  6. Extreme Fiction Manuscript Editing ...



Read More from Stacey Carroll


Blooddoll1FullCoverADTHE BLOODDOLL FACTORY Kindle Edition

An unemployed male nurse lands a job at a reproductive clinic only to learn the babies he is helping to create are being sold to the local vampire population.​

After being unemployed for a year, William finally receives a call to come into Elite Surrogates and Adoption (ESA) for an interview. The sterile white interior does nothing for his confidence as he’s led to Sadie Jones' (HR manager’s) office where she proceeds to question him about his job experience and reproductive knowledge. 

It all goes well in this paranormal medical romance until William realizes that he’s going to have to “perform” for the job. Fifty dollars an hour would help him catch up on his mortgage and get his wife to stop nagging him about the bills. However, using his own semen to propagate the reproductive cycle is more than a little weird. After considering the job and the busty HR manager, he agrees to continue the interview.




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