The first Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group blog-hop day. According to their website, the purpose of ISWG is
To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Learn more about ISWG here: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html
This month’s question: When do you know your story is ready?
I actually suffer from premature story ejaculation. It’s an embarrassing condition. The heady excitement of typing “the end,” the tickle of positive feedback, it all gets me so excited that shoot my story out into query-land, only to have it sent back with a polite “No, thanks.” Or maybe silence.
Like many novices, I’ve thought my work was ready before it was. After running my WIP through a few self-edits and then a trip through my face-to-face critique group (only 40 pages per month!), the “finished” story was a funny, episodic ramble through a pivotal month in Lola’s life. Whee! My group liked it, especially the ending. Out went the queries. Back they came: “No, thanks.”
Two of those queries stood out. Both said they found my story premise and writing appealing. One said the story needed to focus on the main conflict. The other said it suffered from too many subplots and characters.
They were right. It hurt a little to admin that, but hey—I never expected novel-writing to be an instant win. The more I meet other writers, the more that point is hammered home: the path to publication is a long slog. And hearing that from (finally) published writers helps a lot.
Three craft classes later, I’m whittling the story down to a central conflict—well, two: one inner and one outer, but they’re closely connected. Just yesterday I realized I could slice away yet another subplot. You know what helped? On my running synopsis, I color-coded each of the conflicts using the highlight feature of Microsoft Word, and I realized I was running out of colors.
My online critique group from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association has also helped me to see the weeds in my plot’s garden. This time it’s 50 pages per month, but it’s worth it to get the feedback I need. I suspect this story will be ready for another round of queries in six months or so—but if it takes longer, that’s OK.
How do I know when it’s done? I’ll let you know when I get there.