1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How do you know when it's done?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mckk, Mar 31, 2013.

    How do you know when you should just ship the baby out, and when actually, your book still won't stand a chance so you better keep editing?

    It's not the quality of the writing - that I'm good at - it's the damn plot. I'm not sure it's thick enough, and I'm not sure the conclusion is satisfying enough. I'm not sure if I should do a major rewrite where I basically change about 80% of the damn plot...
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Here are the checks I do with the plots of my stories
    1. Is it cliche?
    2. Does it make sense and is it believable?
    3. Would it confuse a reader?
    4. Do you think it's too predictable or bores a reader?
     
  3. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Well a great thing to know is when to stop
     
  4. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    In my humble opinion it isn't time to 'ship your baby out' yet. If you are even the slightest bit unsure. If you're still fiddling with it, it certainly isn't at its best if you feel the need to improve it. I suggest you leave it a while and go back to it later, you don't what to over edit it to the point of losing the essential plot.
    I would say a ms is ready to be shipped out when there's nothing more to be done. When there's no nagging voice that tells you to rewrite this or that. When you are confident that its the best it can be.

    A while ago you were writing a summary to sent out to an agent. You seemed certain then that your 'baby' was ready to be sent out into the world. What happened to make you doubt yourself?

    Edit: a MS is ready when you believe in it (I initially had 100% here but It doesn't need to be 70-80% would do).
     
  5. Quille
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    Quille Senior Member

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    imho you send it out when you can't do anything to make it better.

    Is this lack of confidence new? I'm pretty sure that we all have times when we think our work is substandard and question why we even try. If you've polished your novel to the highest shine you can achieve at this time, you say to hell with the nerves and send it out. Even if it gets rejected that doesn't mean it's as bad as you feared. I think Dune went out something like 40 times before Herbert sold it.

    Good luck!
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Because the only one who's read my entire book came back with these comments:

    1. She hated my female MC aka love interest (and the more I think of why, the more I agree with her)

    2. She was desperate for certain characters to be redeemed, and no one ever did. Come to think of it, it's true no one ever does. This leads to a certain sense of feeling like nothing's been resolved.

    3. This point is related to the previous one - she says I was excellent at all the dark moments when my characters were suffering, but there's no truly joyful moment in the entire book, never a break from the darkness and suffering. The only characters that represented any sense of hope or simplicity of life were killed off or shipped off, never to be seen again.

    4. She said she never quite understood who one of my characters was :D this is a side character, but serves a pretty pivotal role in the plot.

    Based on that, I am inclined to think even if I sent it out, the agent wouldn't take it - it's not marketable.

    It's not the writing - the writing quality, I've been affirmed, is excellent. I'm pretty confident about my writing.

    What I'm not believing is my plot......

    Or is it ok? Is it ok that the reader hates the girl? Is it ok that it's super grim? It's just I can't help but remember the way the novel was going at one point and I put a stop to it because things had already been written and the story cannot go the way it was going naturally. And I can't help but wonder if I made a mistake, if I should've let it happen...

    Quille - is my lack of confidence new? That I have no idea :D I get this every so often - every time I analyse my book I get this.
     
  7. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I think this is the problem you force your plot into a direction that feels unnatural to you. You simply don't like what you've written. The friend who reviewed your Ms has just reinforced what you knew subconsciously and that is why you have lost your confidence in you MS, IMHO. Double back and rewrite the MS from the point you forced it into a new direction and see where it takes you, it might work out better than the current version.
     
  8. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    How do you know when it is done? It's simply a feeling.

    All of these comments posted above are just rationalizations and justifications. You don't need any of those in order to determine if your work is complete or not. You just feel it in your bones. Your work is either complete and finished or it is not. And you will feel it. Trust that.
     
  9. ChrystinaTrulove-Reyes
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    ChrystinaTrulove-Reyes Member

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    To tell you the truth: there is no way to truly tell if a story is ready. Some writers limit the "done" part to a certain amount of revisions because they know that they can tweak this or move that to make the story better. But they can get stuck in the editing mode. The only way that you will know if the story is good enough is to try. I read in a book about Rowling that she didn't think she was ready. I think her friend sent the story in for her. If it had been up to Rowling, she probably would have still been in the edit phase of HP and we would never have been enriched by that story.

    Cat
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's never done. It would only be done if it's perfect, and that's just not possible. It's sometimes even hard to know if you've told the right story (this seems to be the problem you have).

    That said, not everybody will have the same reaction as your one reader. Maybe she was looking for something bright and cheerful and you are good at dark things. Don't put too much trust in one opinion. There may be a large public out there that would love your story.

    Maybe it's time to send it out when you feel strongly like moving on to another project. That may be the only signal you ever get.
     
  11. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Mckk, one opinion is not enough! Try and get some more opinions and feedback, preferably from people associated with book publishing world, before you make any major changes. You are also probably too close to your novel to make any meaningful changes. So, get as many feedback as possible, divert your mind by writing some short stories or something, and then get back to your novel and the suggestions you have received.

    Rejection from agents is something all new writers have to face, in fact sending your ms to agents is a good way to gauge the level of your work. If you send a return envelop with your ms, and the agents see potential in your work, they might send you suggestions and feedback to improve your work.

    Good luck.
     
  12. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    Mckk, I can say the plot is smooth when I can describe every chapter just by few words and if I put it together, it will make just few interesting sentences about whole story. If something doesn't make sense, I would just erase it.

    Same for the characters. I use "keywords" like - he is gleeful, the other one is pussy and make them act as much as possible like this. Well, I didn't handle it just yet, but without it, I wouldn't write like anything.

    And some people are just "dark" thinking, you don't have to change it, just put them into situation, so their act will seem more funny or ironic ;)
     
  13. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Get a second opinion! Don't flick aside the person's opinion but before you go about re-writing 80% of it, get someone else to read it. One person's opinion is what it is.

    Some people like darker novels, some people don't... If you both hate your love-interest, I would probably go about re-writing her :p.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Cazann - well, I'm not sure I want to go back and basically do the whole book from scratch. This particular book is done - the only way to correct it is to like you say, write it from scratch from the point when I felt I cut off the natural story and essentially, make it into a different book. But I'm tired of this book, I'm not sure if it's worth it. The book I have as it stands is not bad - it's fine, and complete as the story that it tells - I'm just not sure it's the best story I could tell, and I think I agree with Minstrel - I'm not sure it's the right story I told... but is that necessarily a reason not to publish what I've got? I have no idea.

    Snoopingaround - well, I can say that the story I have told is finished, for sure. Nothing can be changed unless I change the plot, and other than one or two minor elements or sequence of events, everything is logical as far as I can tell. I think Minstrel hit it on the nail when he said perhaps my problem is I'm not sure if I've told the RIGHT story.

    Chrystina - thank you for your kind words, you made me feel like my story would be a treasure to other people, which I guess perhaps it could be.

    Minstrel - I've never thought about the idea of "telling the right story" but now you say it, I think you're absolutely right. Like I say, the story as it stands, it is finished, because I can't change anything without essentially changing the entire plot. As for the strong feeling of wanting to move on - YES YES YES YES YES. I've tired of this book, it's been 2 years and I've scrapped more words and chapters and drafts than I care to know (I estimate a good 200,000 words got deleted, probably more - sure my writing improved dramatically because of this, so it's not exactly "a waste" but it does make you feel a little... defeated). I want this book to be finished, I'm tired of thinking it's finished and finding that it's not.

    Killbill - you're right that I'm too close to the text, but I'm not sure how long I have to leave it before I'd come back with fresh eyes because I'm at breaking point with this book - that means it's rather a lot on my mind even if I'm not actively thinking about it lol. I don't have anyone willing to read the entire book - I only found one such reader and she's already given her feedback. I'm the only one who writes in my circle of friends, and since it concerns an entire manuscript, I'm not sure even writing groups would be useful 'cause even they would only be willing to read certain chapters. People are busy and a book is long lol. (only 81,000 words but long enough for busy people)

    Teodor - thanks for the suggestion :)

    AVCortez - yeah strongly wondering about giving my love interest something to do to redeem her character. But overall I'm actually wondering about having my MC reject her... that way the reader would be satisfied, and it's actually more realistic.
     

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