Wednesday, October 05, 2016

IWSG: When Do You Know Your Story Is Ready?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you haven't yet, join in. You'll be glad you did!



Each month we have a question. This month's question is:

When Do You Know Your Story Is Ready?

This is one tough question! I've never been one of those authors who revises the same novel for four years. I think writing is one area where being a perfectionist can definitely hold you back.



Don't get me wrong--you can create a great book that way. A standout book that wins major awards and becomes the best book of all time. However, I haven't seen that to be the case for a few of the perfectionist-writers I've known. Some writers just end up either making their book worse or keeping it pretty much the same.



We all revise. For some, though, that means a quick read-through before sending it out to an agent or editor. For others, that means revising over and over and never sending it out. Most of us fall somewhere between those two extremes.



In the end, though, we all have to ask ourselves why we're still revising. Are we sure it needs yet one more pass? Or are we just afraid to take the next step? After all, once we've submitted, this can happen:



In the early stages of your career, an objective reader can make a big difference. This is especially true if you plan to self-publish, where no professional editor stands between you and your readers.



But everyone can benefit from a second pair of eyes. Whether it's a critique group or beta readers, get a group of readers and pass everything you write through them. It can be very difficult to see our own plot holes on our own--that feedback could make the difference between this:



And this:



What are you insecure about this month?

59 comments:

  1. Why are you still revising? That's the best answer I've seen. A good question to ask.
    Definitely believe in critique partners! Toss in my test readers and my publisher's editor, and a lot of eyeballs see my work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great way to make sure you haven't missed anything!

      Delete
  2. You made an excellent point, Stephanie. At some point you have to ask yourself why you're still rewriting and making changes.

    Thoughts in Progress
    and MC Book Tours

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! It's not so much about whether or not you spend months on the same draft but WHY you're doing that.

      Delete
  3. I don't know of anyone who is published traditionally that doesn't have a group of CPs/beta readers! And if you don't let it go into the world at some point, you could be making your story worse! Ugh. Never thought about that before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely can get worse. Kind of like when you had a HUGE event like prom, so you thought you'd spend all day getting ready. Only the more you worked on your hair, the worse it got...until you would've been better off just spending an hour on it!

      Delete
  4. "Why are you doing that?" is actually a great answer to just about anything we do in our life or careers. If we can't answer it, or worse, we don't like the answer, then it's probably best to rethink our actions.

    As an aside, plenty of self-published writers hire "professional editors" to review their work before putting it out there. Just because I was too dumb to do it with my first book doesn't mean it's not a perfect valid (and generally preferred) option!

    IWSG October

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is true. And there are SO many professional editors out there now that there's such a demand for it.

      Delete
  5. I'm one of those people who let revisions slow me down on the path to publication. I'm working on the problem. I only revised this comment one time. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL--every comment I post on Facebook has the word "Edited" under it.

      Delete
  6. I've had several people look over my story, some of whom I have yet to hear from. I've been wondering How much longer I should attempt to find an agent, editor and such.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you need a critique group before beta readers. Critique group is a give-and-take situation. People are reading your story in exchange for them reading yours. You can find those through sites like Meetup.com and writing organizations. There are some online, too...not sure which to recommend, though.

      Delete
  7. It is a balance between necessary revision and fear of rejection! Critique partners are an important part of the process for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! And I just mentioned critique groups in the comment above. I think they make SUCH a huge difference on a writing journey.

      Delete
  8. Your perfectionist graphic sums it up perfectly! That's me in a nutshell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I think we're all perfectionists about certain things!

      Delete
  9. My first book I revised it for over a year, and then more after rejections and help from another author. I've gotten much, much better, but it's still hard to let it go.

    A second pair of honest and earnest eyes is a good thing. However, I once had 3 writer's critique the first 3 Chapters of my wip, and you wouldn't believe the differing opinions.

    Great post as always, Stephanie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh critique groups can definitely be confusing! And you CAN find yourself in a toxic environment if you have a critique partner with a nasty personality, as I did once. I was told my writing is "shallow" by a suspense writer. (Even back then, I wrote romantic comedy, so my work has always been on the light, fun side.) Other writers told me that I needed to get OUT of that environment because it was starting to make me doubt my ability, so I had to find a graceful excuse to quit.

      Delete
  10. That paralysis is an awful thing - been there, done that. We need that push, whether from ourselves or from someone else, to get our work out in the world where it belongs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paralysis can come in many forms, can't it? Procrastination, constant revision, etc...

      Delete
  11. Awesome thoughts. I sat on my first book for years, doing the perfectionist thing. Finally, my husband kicked me out the door. Good for him, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes you just need a kick in the butt! (Figuratively, of course.)

      Delete
  12. I have to admit, I'm a perfectionist, so I'm always editing, editing, editing. Yes, it means I have never published anything. I think it may be true, perhaps I'm subconsciously fearful of the next step, or rejection. I need to get over that, I know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just put it out there! Close your eyes and send it!!!

      Delete
  13. Writing is hard work. I would never be able to write a book.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great reflections and I love those images. Puts it all in perspective somehow :) Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Stephanie. It is greatly appreciated - as ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nicola! Not sure how wise I am, but I'm glad to have y'all to help me figure it all out.

      Delete
  15. If over-revising is a sign of insecurity it's me to a T! Or at least it was until I hooked up with readers and Grammarly;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does Grammarly work well? I've been thinking about downloading it!

      Delete
  16. My mother was the first to point out that I was revising to the point of boring. Now, instead of asking myself, I leave it to the betas and editors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a FIRE with the first draft that you can take the heart out of. I've seen that happen before.

      Delete
  17. Great advice. After going through the query process once, I'm wary of jumping back in. I'd much rather edit and edit and edit some more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be wary! Give yourself a deadline and jump in!

      Delete
  18. I sincerely hope self-published authors are hiring freelance editors. Oh, I cringe at the thought of anyone not having an editor before going to print.

    Anyway, I'm insecure this month because I just had a new book release and while that's exciting, I'm constantly checking my numbers, which keeps me on edge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES, ^^^everyone who is looking for an editor, here's one you can hire! And try not to check your #s. I'm the opposite. I tend to avoid looking...all I can do is just keep getting the word out and doing school visits and such. Beyond that, I can't do much about those numbers, so why worry?

      Delete
  19. I read a quote somewhere that said: Achievers strive for excellence; perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. No idea who wrote/said it, but it immediately came to mind where you address perfectionist-writers.
    Love the images :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE that. I prefer to think of myself as an aspiring achiever!

      Delete
  20. I wouldn't submit my writing ANYWHERE without my trusty cp's reading it first. Their help is invaluable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is important to have a second set of eyes on everything you write.

      Delete
  21. Finding time and my health are bit on the insecure section for me this month. But I press on and remain positive. The negative zone sucks so I kick it out of my way. Shoo! Yeah as writers we need to end the story at some point. Perfection? Oh you mean that unicorn prancing out of reach. Yeah I just leave that alone. I don't think it's looking for company as much as attention and apples.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely--the negative zone sucks. Sorry to hear about your health problems. Writing can be a great break from reality sometimes.

      Delete
  22. Great advise! I think it would be possible to rewrite and edit the same manuscript to infinity and beyond, and still not be entirely satisfied. We do ourselves a great injustice if we expect our work to achieve perfection.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm insecure about starting another novel, because I've started 3 and none of them made it to fruition. :(

    ReplyDelete
  24. That's a very valid point. I'm going to have to think about that. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm insecure because I'm soon going to be out on sub.

    I thought Query Purgatory was bad until I learned about Submission Hell. I used to take any feedback I got from an agent rejection and revise before sending out more queries. (Talking about the story never being done!) When it's out on submission, I can't do that.

    Commence nail biting.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I don't think a perfect manuscript is the difference between rejection and a publishing contract. Publishers want what they think will sell. They're buying ideas more than superbly-crafted manuscripts. The biggest problem in art is subjectivity, which is implicit in the form, in all its forms. We can't around viewing things differently. So what you're really trying to do, in editing, is making the best possible version of whatever it is you've already written. You can't ask for more than that, and the truth is, publishers won't either, no matter what they might say about it. If the writing itself is polished, they just won't care, and neither will readers who equally dig your idea.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great advice. My problem is I'm having a heck of a time finding good reliable critique partners. Maybe it's me. I'm not giving up though and maybe that will turn around soon.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Considering how many truly awful novels I've come across, some people need to spend some more time revising. I think in some cases, those writers haven't quite gotten to professional level yet.

    ReplyDelete
  29. One of the best things I've ever had in writing is my editor and a fellow friend who is also a writer. Both of them are hard pressed to make sure things are right and don't placate me. The end result is my final product is vastly superior for it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Having several sets of eyes on a manuscript is so important. And that's a great question to ask yourself about revising. Why are you still doing it? Being honest about that answer can help people move forward and not get stuck in a rut.

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is so true! Excellent points. It can just be easier to work on something for ages. Granted, if you're learning how to write still, it can be helpful, at least up to a point.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Awesome post! I rely on my critique partners a lot. They've never steered me wrong. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I agree. Great points. Sometimes you can edit and edit and edit and go nowhere...

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love that picture of all the papers piled up! I think if we're not careful, we can nit-pick our story to death. I think we'll always find things we'd change or write different, maybe even years down the road, after the book is published. Lately, when I pick up the ARC of Catalyst and start reading, I cringe a little. Why did I word that sentence that way? That paragraph seems choppy. Then I sigh and close the book. I can't change it now, I can only move forward and make the next one even better!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Great post, Steph. You are so right on the need for another pair of eyes...or two:)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wonderful post. That picture of the piles of crunched up paper overflowing the desk--that's my brain. Yeah. It's sad.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Great advice- and I love that pic with all the wadded up paper! So true... I think sometimes we think "it just needs a little more work" because maybe we're afraid to send it out into the world? I can see myself doing that... :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am a big proponent of a second pair of eyes and not just once. The first edit tells me what I didn't see. The second rewrite I know where I am and what I need to do, by the next edit it's a solid story. It's not baked at that point but I know where I am going. I only just figured this all out. It took me a while to figure out my process but I got there... I hope! :)

    ReplyDelete