This month the Insecure Writers Support Group is discussing – When do you know your story is ready?
The glib answer would be never. There is always something that can be improved in any creative endeavor. That being said, we can’t let a need for perfection keep us from sharing our work with the world.
I was glad to see the question of knowing when a story is ready is the topic of our collective conversation this month. It has been on my mind the last couple of weeks. I have known a particular writer for several years now (first as a critique partner and now as a content editor) and have watched them struggle with how to know when their story was finally done. It took far longer than they initially expected. It always does. But eventually, you know. The story becomes a thing of its own, separate from the writer. Unfortunately, this can take eight, ten, maybe twelve drafts. It is a long arduous process, especially the first time you write a book because you are learning how to write a book, as well as actually writing it.
Nevertheless, there is a point in the editing process when the unnecessary flotsam and jetsam fall away and the kernel of the story shines through. A lot of times, this only happens after the writer has let go of it enough to share it with some trusted readers and editors. Fresh eyes are needed to point out the plot holes and x-out the precious parts. Distance is key. Some writers can get that much-needed distance by simply putting the story away for a while and rereading it with fresh eyes. That is great. Other people need someone else to point out the issues with the story. Whatever works for you.
The key is to not rush it. First drafts are never final drafts. Fifth drafts are sometimes final drafts. It takes as long as it takes, and then it will probably take a little longer.