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
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