Friday, October 23, 2015

When Is A Story Done?

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So many writing quotes appear to be quite simple. A few words with great importance for those who write or would-be-writers. Someone might read the quote above and scoff. They might say Well, duh! Isn't that a given? 

The keyword here is done. How do you know when a story you've written is completed?  When is it ready to submit to an editor in hopes that it next goes out to the world to be read and savored? 

Writers know that a first draft is only the beginning. There are revisions and re-edits to come. How many depends on how much of a perfectionist the writer is and how well that first draft was written. There are some gifted writers who can come up with a nearly-ready first draft but most of us are just happy to have enough words written to consider the draft as a foundation to build on--like I talked about in yesterday's post.

When you've gone over your story again and again and can find nothing new to add or change or delete, you might call it done. But wait! Put it aside for a few days or even a week or two. Read it again and you might see something that you didn't previously. 

As an experiment, go to your files and pull up something you've written and perhaps had published months, or even years, ago. Read it as objectively as possible--you'll never get to 100% on that when reading your own work. I think you'll find that there are things you might change. 

But back to that story you've written and revised, edited half a dozen times--when you can read it and get a sense of satisfaction, you're probably at the stage where you can call it done. There has to come a time when you say that. If not, you'd be working on one story for the rest of your life. Follow your gut reaction. I find it's most always right. 

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