Monday, January 24, 2011

How do you KNOW you're done?

You've written and revised your novel. And I mean you have really REVISED that book. Not just once, but many, many times. You've tossed the telly unneeded junk. You've added the showy, sparkly words. Now you KNOW THAT YOU KNOW IT'S FINISHED. Or is it?? Hmmm *thumps fingers on desk*

Do you really know? Tough question. Here's my take on all of this. Pick up any book. Read through it. Critique it. You WILL see things that you would want to change. Even bestsellers. It's always going to happen. Black Beauty is my ALL TIME favorite book. (Y'all know this, I know.) But. I. Still. Find. Things. To Change. Even in my ALL TIME fav book.

You can have a story critiqued until it's unrecognizable. Until it has changed so much you hate it. Don't do that. Trust yourself. Respect yourself.

I like for two betas plus my critique partner to give it a thorough going over.  I also give it an honest look. Revise accordingly and then I decide it's DONE.

I have used this as a writing exercise. (It's a really good one, too.) Pick a book and rewrite the first chapter. You'll be amazed at how different it is. The difference between you and that author? He/she decided the book was finished. They made the decision to stop revising and start working on finding an agent. Or publisher.

Point? I do have one. People will always see things in your novel that they would write differently. You will know in your heart that it is done. So stop having it critiqued. Know that it is ready and get it out there.

What say you?


  1. I don't think a story can ever be completely and utterly "done. I think a point comes where the author has to say "this is it! The story is the best I can do for now" and ruthlessly cut the apron strings on that story by moving onto the next one. Easier said than done, I know! :)

    hugs to you and Christopher xoxox

    Judy (South Africa)

  2. It's true. Sometimes you just have to do all you can and then let go.

    I took a seminar once by a well-known author and in the workshop she was reading a section of her book. Well, she stops looks at it funny and reads it again editing it. LOL! She pointed it out that you're never going to be happy with your work--even after it's published!! :)

  3. Excellent information. The author edits and decides when the book is finished.

    We could edit forever, but it must end, or there would be no more published books. :)

    Wishing you a week of good things!


  4. Yup. You can, if you choose to, never be done. Eventually though, after hard editing, you have to stop. . . or perhaps go a wee big crazy.

  5. So true, at some point you have to put it out there if that is the goal. I guess everyone is going to make that decision a little differently. But yeah, that's often the big question: "Is it ready?"

  6. "respect yourself" is a really important concept, Robyn. I'm open to critique, willing to rewrite and edit, but, in the end, I have to go with what the story means to me--trust my vision.
    And you're right about how often I see things I would change in novels I read, even the ones I adore. Perhaps we need to stop expecting perfection and go for as good as it gets. Once we've given our all, it's time to send the story into the world and see what happens.

  7. Oh my goodness, Robyn. I am literally laughing my head off because I just, as in TWO SECONDS AGO, finished writing out a comment on another blog saying, "How will I know when it's done done? I feel like it is. I have crit partners yelling 'query already!' But when will I *know*?"

    I think maybe God sent me your post. I am not kidding. :)

  8. LOVE this post! Actually, the timing of it is perfect because I *just* came to this conclusion, like, yesterday! I've got my MS printed out and I'm going to revise it keeping pertinent feedback in mind, but I'm going to keep what I want in it too.

  9. we are making the same point yourself. very true. now, we need to be willing to really look and make changes where needed but knowing when to stop? that is a fine, fine art. one I am still working on!

  10. It's funny, I am still editing my first novel... Over a year and still it's not quite there yet.

    I finished my third novel in six weeks and edited for two. It doesn't sound like nearly enough time, but I feel it's done. I might give another read through but I really feel that's it.

    You just know. This book wrote itself.


  11. I agree. You are a smart girl. :o)
    Hugs to you!

  12. OOo, how did I miss this yesterday? Lovely and SO true. I think this is why most writers won't read their books once they're in print. In fact, one author told me her books are never "Done.' They're just "ready." I like that distinction. :)

  13. Good advice, Robyn! Since another author isn't you, of course they'll say things differently. We typically know our weaknesses and have critique partners accordingly. I'm with you, once you've gathered the input of trusted advisors, send that baby out there!! Have a great week, lady!! Hugs & Blessings:)

  14. I go through phases where I think I'm done, but then I read some great advice and realize that maybe I'm not done. I think I need to stop reading jk.

  15. I rely on my wise and talented critique partners to help me decide when THE END is really The End:) The perfectionist in me could go on forever!

  16. Terrific advice Robyn!! I think you have to commit as some point to let the novel go and spread its wings. I'm a tough self-critic when it comes to my writing. However, I like how my poetry quickfires are spontaneous. It feels liberating not to be an editor for those poems.

    Guess what? I did the vlog last light, half asleep. Hope I don't look or sound too loopy!!


  17. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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