Every author out there will understand when I say that there is no such thing as a "Final Draft" of a book. I mean this in the sense that no matter how many times we go back to the manuscript, re-read, edit, or revise it, there will always be some small change that we decide needs to be made to make the story even better. This could range from changing around the order of sentences in a paragraph, adjusting punctuation, or adding a word here or there to enhance a description.

However, this could also include adding several pages of new material to the ending of the previous "final draft." This was the situation in which I found myself after several readers came back to me with a desire for a more complex ending that was proportionate to the build-up that preceded it. I decided to oblige, and, taking the perspectives of several different characters, crafted an additional ending for "The Silver Talon" that hopefully provides a more substantial conclusion to the book. 

The point remains that no matter how finished a manuscript may seem, there will always be changes that can be made, ranging from minor revisions in word choice and sentence structure to significant changes that add substantially to the novel. For prospective authors, the revision process can seem like a daunting task, especially in light of this "perpetual editing", however, even major authors admit that their first drafts are never perfect. Holly Lisle, an 18-year novelist with 32 books claims that her first drafts are as mangled as everyone else's. I'd have to agree with her! When I look back at the first draft of "The Silver Talon", I find myself cringing when I come across certain passages. After several rounds of editing, I even wound up adding a completely new character to the story (I'll let you guess which character that might be). 

There is no doubt that effective editing is essential to making a good manuscript into a great manuscript. And the fact is that no first draft is perfect--indeed, even the tenth draft will in all likelihood have a few more rounds of revision left in it, if not more. I can't even count how many "rounds" of edits "The Silver Talon" went through, as I edited it sometimes in pieces before I had even finished the whole manuscript. Even with the published book in hand, I continue to make changes that will appear in any subsequent publication runs; from gently re-crafting a sentence to extending the ending by twenty pages, I have no doubt that even when I think I have created my final "Final Draft", there will be something else that I find could be changed. Therefore, I make my affirmation that there is no such thing as a "Final Draft", and potential authors should not obsess with making their manuscripts perfect. Revisions are no doubt a necessary element to writing a good story, but the fear of not achieving the "perfect" revision should never inhibit writers from submitting and publishing their work.