Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#IWSG- Is it done yet?

Welcome to the monthly blog collection from the Writer’s Insecure Support Group! 

Today, a question was suggested—How do you know when your book is done?

Well, kids, here at the Butterball School of Writing, all works in progress come with a handy little pop up device. Once you’ve run through enough drafts, editing, beta readers, more editing, more readers, etc—the button pops up and voila! You have a finished book!

*waits for the laughter to die down….okay, gives up on the attempt at humor*

Homage to Thanksgiving and comparing our books to cooked poultry in an attempt at humor aside, this is a tricky question. Far more so, the more you look into it. Like most all aspects of writing, it depends on the individual to know when their book is done, there’s no one size fits all program.
For me personally it’s still an “it varies” answer, as each book has a different cooking time. But there are some components that follow through on each book.
I throw a lot of stuff on the page (I’m a pantser folks) and my first draft is sometimes pretty wild. I do little edits/re-reads as I’m working on the first draft, but nothing really big. Then I print it out and edit. I slice and dice for story and character arcs first. Something doesn’t actually go somewhere (or set something up for another book in the series- so if you see something touched on in say book two- it might not have an impact until say book five) it’s out. I may cut and save it, if I really love it, but I’ve learned to be brutal. If it’s doesn’t move things along- it’s outta there. Your “darlings” (the words) lose individual strength when compared to the entire piece. Move it or lose it my little wordy friends!
After a few edits, I send it to my developmental editor. She calls me on anything I may have missed, or just refused to see was a problem. Then my beta readers have a whack. I am totally lucky to have some insanely talented friends who are willing to point out where I’ve screwed up, typos, and major “WTF?” issues. Then a nice line/copy edit for clean-up. I also go through a few passes before and inbetween all of these.
At each of these stages, I’m keeping an eye out for anything major, something that tells me the story isn’t doing what I need it to do. If it flies through after all these folks poking and prodding it, and feels solid, I pronounce it DONE!
Told you the pop up button idea was better ;).

Happy IWSG day!!!


  1. Having all those talented readers going over your story is a great thing to make your story shine. How did you go about finding your developmental editor?

    1. It really helps! I did some searching, and I think I found mine through a comment of an online chapter group of RWA. She is really good and gets my voice :).

  2. I've used a developmental level editor once before sending out (I work with an agent so we are subbing to traditional houses). I'm considering it again. Do you have a reference?

    Here's my October IWSG post: Top 10 Ways to know if you're ready to share your writing

    1. I use Red Circle Ink- love her! She's tough, but right on target.

  3. I like the pop up timer. Works for me. LOL It varies is a great answer. I just know when it's done...and when it's not.

    1. Wouldn't it be awesome? "DING!" "Ooo- my book is done!" ;). It is such an instinctual process.

  4. I like the pop up timer concept.

    My perception of my own originality is shrinking and drying up like an overcooked turkey. Must be at least a few of us thinking of food as it applies to today's question. I don't think it has to do with being a starving artist either.

    You're cooking turkey and I'm baking cookies.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  5. I do better at editing the printed page - with the cliched red pen -than reading the screen version too. I think "confidence" is key to knowing when the book is finished. I could use a bit more of that too.