Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#IWSG October 2016

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Hosted by: Alex J. Cavanaugh
and co-hosts.


October Question: When do you know your story is ready?

Okay, IWSG folks, I have to admit this was one scary question for me. It seemed to hit me in all of my insecure spots.

When do I know my story is ready?

Do I know my story is ready?

Do I ever know my story is ready?

Imagine biting fingernails between these questions.

To calm myself, I decided to make a list.

5 Ways I Know My Story is Ready

1. When I get to the end, and I think this is it - this is the end, I have done all I can. I've revised it the best that I can. When it's a short story, it gets three read-throughs after writing. Sometimes, this process takes a few weeks, and sometimes it takes a total of one hour. My best short story written in under 45 minutes and revised in 15 is "Seedling" - published at Brilliant Flash Fiction before I set it for free in e-story format. My second favorite short-short story written and revised in under 15 minutes is "Kissing Boys"  - still up at The Drabble.

2. When my revisions seem to make the story more wooden and boring to read, it is finished. (I can tell which of my chapters in Champion in the Darkness had 7-9 full revisions.) My best writing happens somewhere between the first and third draft.

3. When everyone in my household is sick of hearing about it and my daughters start giving me creative ways to kill off my characters or bring them back to life, it's done. It was supposed that a particular character in the Champion trilogy could be dropped off a cliff or drowned by a sea serpent. Another character was given the options of re-animation via sorcery or being regurgitated by a whale. (I didn't use any of these options.)

4. When I feel satisfied at a gut-level, I'm done. This does not mean that I feel proud, excited or 100% certain of perfection. I never reach that point. I just feel satisfied - as if I've done all I can, even if the story isn't exactly where I wanted it to be when I started.

5. When I realize that I've gone "over the edge" and I'm pushing for an unachievable perfectionist finish, it's time to call it done.

I'm not the writer I want to be yet. 
I don't think that means I'm a bad writer - I'm just not exactly where I want to be yet and I don't think that sending my stories to the fire if they aren't perfect is going to help me.

I look back at the "greats" in literature - Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and others, and I know I've read early works by them that weren't as good as their later works.

My family loves a particular modern author whose first book we all read has a mass of errors in it. We still enjoy that book, and we've read all the rest of that series and the next, enjoying both the stories and the way that the writer has grown in his craft.

Sometimes, I have to say . . . "okay, even if I'm in my 40s, this is still early days yet for me as a writer." Someday, I will write that magnum opus. Today, I will write my small story that satisfies me at a basic gut level. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, I will hone my craft and someday write a story that fills the pages with something glorious. 

How do you know when your story is ready? 
And does "ready" mean "perfect," or just ready?


By the way, Annalisa Crawford, Cherie Reich and Kendra Arnek will be guest posting this month in the 5 Reasons to Write series! Please come by and welcome them later this month!
I'm looking for a few guest posts in that series for November and December - please let me know via e-mail if you are interested: tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com




37 comments:

Julie Flanders said...

I had to laugh about your daughters and their suggestions! I was biting my fingernails just reading your questions. I never really think a story is ready.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

That's a nice, detailed breakdown. I like it!

I agree that nothing is ever perfect. The best you can do is the best you can do "right now." If you've reached the limits of what you can do, whether that's based on skill, knowledge, time or budget, then it's done. Hopefully you've learned stuff you will use to make the next one even better.

IWSG October

Nicola said...

Great thought processes there, Tyrean. Daughters are great aren't they! They say it as it is - no holding back :) Great post. Thank you for sharing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know what you mean by going over the edge.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Nothing is ever perfect except for God.

After reading many posts, I believe mostly all of us feel the same way!!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

You have a great attitude, Tyrean. Your post started my day off with a smile. Your daughters' advice is priceless. Best of luck with your stories.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

LOL! I love #3. It sounds like your daughter should be a writer, too.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love #3!

For me there comes a point when I feel like I've revised so much that I've sucked the heart, the life out of the story. I hate when that happens!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love the tip about when your family is sick of hearing about it. I reach that way before I'm done though. For my short nonfiction pieces, I follow the three-time review rule.

Christine Rains said...

Great post! You had me laughing. I rely a lot on my critique partners. They know when I'm too in love with it or just nitpicking it to death. Have a wonderful day! :)

S. M. Pace said...

Love tip number 3. There have been many times my husband has suggested killing off a character he's sick of hearing about. As for perfection, I think it's always good to strive for better, but never get sidetracked by the allure of perfect. Perfect doesn't exist and brings no real satisfaction, in my opinion :-)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Haha, I'm #3, except it's my husband and my cats, and my BFF. I'm also #5. And I love the line: I'm not the writer I want to be yet!!!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I picked up a Stephen King book and in the forward, he explains why he basically rewrote the book. That he had learned a lot as a writer and wanted to apply those principles to one of his favorite stories- just for personal satisfaction.

We do learn and we do grow. I just hope I'm never accused of "phoning it in"...I've heard readers say that about books after a writer has become stellar. I hope I always give my readers their money's worth.

Chemist Ken said...

When all your crit partners are tired of reading your story again and can't come up with any new suggestions, that sounds the perfect time to quit.

Or else get new crit partners, I suppose.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Julie - glad to know I'm not the only one that feels that way!

CD - I hope so, too. :)

Nicola - thanks! Yes, my daughters tell it like it is.

Alex - yes, it's never pretty.

Cathrina - Amen!

Beverly - Thanks! Glad I could make you smile!

Diane - Neither of my daughters want to write - they think it's too much work.

Madleine - I know what you mean. It's hard when that happens.

Natalie - I definitely reach that point before I'm done, so sometimes I keep my projects secret until I'm neck deep in revision.

Christines - glad I could give a few laughs today! :)

SM - so, my family isn't the only group that gets tired of characters - good to know! :)

Joylene - Thank you!

Elizabeth - I don't think you'll ever be accused of phoning it in - you're writing rocks!

Ken - no, just get that story out there!!! :)

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

Ha, ha, #3 cracked me up. It's so hard to let go, but when your gut says it's time, it's time.

farawayeyes said...

I really like your list, but number four hit me where I live. The iea of being satisfied on a gut level, not reaching for perfection, or trying to please anyone else, but simply and realistically being personally satisfied. I'm going to make a big sign to hang over my desk...ARE YOU SATISFIED!

Thanks.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

This is my first time here. I've joined your blog now. Dang! That perfectionism gets in my way forever. Of course, I'm not saying I ever achieve it. Thanks for sharing. All the best!

cleemckenzie said...

This question has as many answers as it has writers giving them. I like that you are still working on your craft and haven't said, "That's good enough." Very lovely.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Lori - so true. Glad I could make you laugh. :)

Faraway Eyes - You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

Victoria - Thanks! Yes, perfectionism is tough to best.

C.Lee - so true. Thanks!

Cherie Reich said...

I really get your #4 reason. Sometimes you get to a point where you just know, even though that doesn't mean the writing is perfect. You've just done all you can with what you know as a writer. And we should all want our books to get better the longer we write.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Cherie - yes, I don't know how it works, but it does. And then, we learn more and apply it. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You are the second person to mention 'gut' feelings for when it's done. We all want the perfect story but we have to know when to let it go.

emaginette said...

I think most of us are on the same page. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Tyrean Martinson said...

Susan - so true! Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

Anna - good to know. :)

Jenni Enzor said...

I really loved your list, particularly what you said about it becoming wooden. This has happened to me, especially when I've had too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, and tried to please everyone. And then it became a mess.
I'm also in my 40s and what you said really resonated with me about not being the writer you want to be yet, but still going forward with your stories.
Thanks for such an encouraging post!

Erika said...

Haha! Your daughter's comments sound like something my daughter will do when she gets older. I love your list. I don't think our work will ever be perfect enough for us, the one telling it. But to others, it might be the best inspiration and become their favorite story. :)

Lynda R Young said...

I love #4 and I've done #5 ;)
Great post!

Gwen Gardner said...

I'm not where I want to be yet, either. Lots of room for growth. But mostly I agonize to myself. LOL.

Diane Burton said...

I don't think we're ever the writer we want to be. We just do our best and keep learning.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Jenni - thank you for your encouraging commment!

Erika - I hope so! :)

Lynda - Thank you!

Gwen - Don't we all? Writing is filled with glories and agonies.

Diane - so true!

Mark Noce said...

Lol...when everyone in the house is sick of hearing about it...I like that part:) I guess living with us authors isn't always easy:)

Yolanda Renée said...

Great guests, I will be back for that!

I'm never done, even after it's published. LOL

Angela Brown said...

I enjoyed your 5 ways of knowing when your story is ready, especially the offers of ways to kill off characters from your daughters lol!

I don't ever know when my story is ready. CPs are helpful, but having that satisfied gut feeling is certainly a good way to know when to let the story move on to the next step.

Misha Gericke said...

I basically know when I'm seeing I'm only moving commas around. But getting to that point also depends a lot on trusting my gut.

Olga Godim said...

Great list! I especially love #3.

Nick Wilford said...

This is an excellent list! I liked what you wrote about imperfections being part of growth. And sometimes it has to come down to that hunch that you can't do anything more.