That’s a question every writer deals with constantly. Okay, okay. Maybe it’s just me. I confess. I’m a fusser and worrywart. I write YA adventure short stories mostly, and after fussing with the plot and characters for a while, I will tweak placement of actions and feelings. Then I turn to the biggest stall of all: words. Man! Can I waste days, if not weeks, on this.
In reality, a writer should have a logical routine to work through story or essay. Start with an idea or situation. For me, many times I begin with a poor unfortunate soul saddled with troubles. I’ve got to have that internal problem for my character to overcome. Many times it’s familial or deals with friends because it’s YA.
But then because I need excitement in my story, I look for danger lurking on the horizon of my character’s immediate future [because it’s short story]. That translates into location and, sometimes, a wild animal or two. A plot forms and I need to work through the logic of the story.
This is short story, so word count is important. Therefore, I trim and tuck telling details into action. I monkey with explanation and sense of what’s happening. Then I live in the fussing with crisp word choice: how to find one word to state the same action, thought, or feeling as several.
This is what hangs me up for weeks, sometimes, because in order to tuck in a clearer description or feeling or action in one place, I may need to trim words in another. Words are precious in short story, especially YA where the count is usually 1800 words. And the younger the story, the shorter the word count. Flash fiction works the same way.
So when do you know your story is ready to send out? You don’t. But if you follow through your own logical method and include critique, I always do, you can feel a teeny bit better about letting go. You need to send the story out to move on in life. And then pray. Or take a walk and try not to obsess over it. At least this is what I do. Do you have any suggestions or tips on when to send out your work to publishers?
This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.
32 thoughts on “Insecure Writers Want to Know: When do you know your story is ready?”
Hi Victoria – I'm sure everyone has their own way … I guess you 'test' as much as you can – and then let someone else read it through and get a feel of where you're at. Good luck – cheers Hilary
Having some kind of process at least gives us the illusion we have control over things!
Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing, Hilary! Yes, it's good to have someone else read your WIP before you send it out. All the best to you!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Angela! I agree. Having ANY control over how we write helps us to move forward in our WIP. Thanks for your insight. All the best to you, Angela!
Do you sometimes feel that perfect word is just out of reach and you have to settle for the secondary? I find that soooo frustrating.
Have to follow our own routine to get there indeed.
I like the way you stated that. We don't ever really know when it's ready, but we follow a logical method and have to let it go.
You have a very disciplined writing process, something all writers would benefit from following. Thank you for sharing this information in a reader/writer friendly outline.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Sandra! I truly appreciate your joining my blog. It is really appreciated. And thank you for your kind words. All the best to you!
Do I ever! And yes it is! Thanks so much for offering your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It is greatly appreciated, Sandra.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Pat! Yes, we do need to follow our own routine. It keeps us sane. Thanks for your kind words. All the best to you!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Tyrean! I don't think any writer knows when, exactly, the story's ready to go. Thanks for your kind words. All the best to you!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Gail! Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean the world to me. All the best to you!
Praying always helps!
We'd revise forever if we let ourselves.
Isn't that true, Alex! Thank you so much for hosting this month's Insecure Writers' blogging session. It is truly appreciated. This is a wonderful group. I've met so many interesting bloggers and writers and am joining many new blogs. Thanks for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving your insight. It's greatly appreciated.
It's definitely a process of writing, self-editing, out to CPs and back and another round of edits and so on. When you feel like you can't do any more–send it out into the world.
We all have a process don't we? For me characters seem to come first when I am starting something new.I do enjoy the editing stage though, for me it is where the magic happens.
Thank you for visiting my blog and the follow, happy to visit here and return the follow 🙂
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Gwen! Writing most definitely is a process, and all writers have their own routine. However, we all can pick up tips that can work for us, that we can add to our routines. Thanks so much, Gwen, for leaving your insight here at Adventures in Writing. All the best, my dear.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Suzanne! Thank you for the follow! It is greatly appreciated. Writing most definitely is a process. Sometimes characters talk to me and then I need to find a place and problems to bother them with. Thanks so much for leaving your insight here at Adventures in Writing. All the best, my dear.
You have a very well thought out process. That must help you be a more disciplined writer, something I struggle with. Thanks for the insight
Knowing how to pack the most punch possible into a small amount of words is a valuable skill for a writer – sounds like you get lots of practice honing that skill.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Jennifer! Yes, I'm the type of writer who needs structure. That being said, it still takes much thought and angst on my part. Thanks so much for your kind words. Please visit Adventures in Writing again. All the best to you.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Nicki! I agree with your statement. In short stories, every word is vital because word count is limited. Yet all words are vital to the story being told even in novels. And yes, I do get lots of practice writing short stories. Now to sell them… Thanks for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated. All the best to you.
Great post Victoria! And your process sounds good, too!
Thank you so much, Nas, for your kind words. They mean so much to me. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Hope all is well.
Yup, a teeny bit better about letting it go. That's not a lot, but it's something. =) I edit things to death, so I totally hear you.
Victoria, When you mentioned how you have to let the story go, it reminded me of sending my son off on his first day of school. You spend years getting your baby ready for this moment, and then you have to set him free. Many writers feel the same way about their stories.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing Crystal. Hey, a teeny bit better is at least heading in the right direction. I also edit things to death sometimes. All the best, Crystal.
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Julie! Writers definitely feel their stories are their babies. At least I do. And by the way, I remember distinctly each first day of my five children beginning school. And yes! I cried each time. Thanks again for your comment on Adventures in Writing. Please stop by again.
All I can say is that you never feel like you are ready to send it. Sometimes you just have to send it. If you keep it too long, you might end up hating it and wanting to start over.
This is so true, Michelle. It's always best to let it go. Otherwise the newborn story may die. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. All the best, my dear!