Wednesday, June 5, 2013


First Wednesday of the month = Insecure Writer's Support Group. Visit here for more info:

So you've written a novel. When is it finished? When is it good enough?

Well, it's *probably* not quite there yet if:
1. You just finished writing the first draft.
2. You have only let your best friend and mother read it.
3. You relied on the computer for spell check and grammar check.
4. You have never read a book in the genre of your story.
5. You have never read a book on the craft of writing.
6. You've only revised the story once.

Maybe it's finished if:
1. You've revised the story a million times (or more but you lost count).
2. You've had several (or at least two) critique partners (who are skilled writers themselves) rip it apart.
3. You've had a beta reader (someone who doesn't know you personally and could care less if they hurt your feelings) read a polished version and give their feedback for improvement.
4. You've studied the craft of writing (by reading books on the topic or attending classes).
5. You've read a lot of books in the genre you're writing.
6. You've revised, edited, polished the story one more time.

It's a tough call, but the bottom line is: at some point, we have to say it is finished. As my CP said, "Stop picking at the wound, or it will never heal." Ick.


How do you know when you're WIP is finished?


  1. I like that - 'Stop picking the wound' - I'll remember that!

  2. Spot on! Loved this, Margo!

  3. I'm half way through " the maybe it's finished part" and the third draft isn't even completed yet, LOL. One thing I got from your post is, a writer should not query their MS before it's ready. Too many people do this and fail. I may be on the opposite side of the spectrum, having worked four years (and counting) on my MS. I really enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing.

  4. Leap of faith and letting go - so important to remember as writers...

  5. I've seen a few people lately ask how others know when a story is finished. No one really has an answer. For me, I have to decide if one more edit will help or hurt.

  6. This is a good and very helpful post. When I was in art school we had the 'call it done' mantra too, because creative people just think they can always improve their creations. Sometimes that isn't the case and you actually hurt the story/art more if you keep messing with it. In that respect, 'stop picking the wound' really fits. (Yuck.)

    For me, I was too eager to query mine and made a lot of very green mistakes about it. I'd say that now, following the points you made, I call it done when the story has meat on its bones and can almost walk itself into the query trenches.