It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is 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. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. To read other posts, click here.
This month's IWSG question: When do you know your story is ready?
This is a tough one. I guess it depends on the story. If I’m writing a fifteen-hundred word feature for a magazine and my deadlines are tight, I come home after an interview and spend a few hours pounding out a draft. After a day or two, I look at it again with fresh eyes, find flaws in the writing and whip it into shape. Then I walk away one more time. A few days later, the edit is usually for minor details. Each time I work on the piece, my goal is to make the story the best I can at that particular moment. That said, when my stories appear in print, usually a few months later, I almost always find something I’d change, on which I could improve.
For a novel, well, I’m still learning the answer to the question. I’m on my fourth try now, and I write a lot of drafts. For my last “completed” work, the magic number was seventeen. After three or four, I get someone to read it, and it usually comes back to me requiring a major overhaul. I put it away between drafts, to give myself enough time to clear out my infatuation with my own writing, so I can see all the warts.
So, when did I “know” the last novel was “ready?” Well, I answered my critique partner’s questions, changed what I could, put it aside, read it and found more flaws and then edited it some more, had it read again and made more changes still. Finally it felt like it was the best story I could write. That’s when I started working on a query letter.
I received a few full requests for that book and a couple of partials too. Getting those nibbles, but no bites made me understand that while the book may have potential, it’s not ready yet. In between drafts of book #4, I’m pondering picking up #3 again, after a year-and-a-half. Perhaps, with “new eyes” I’ll find a way to improve upon it. To find a way to make sure this time it really is ready.
I'm not sure I've said anything scintillating here, but I'd sure love to know when you know your story is ready.