When Has Your Book Finished Cooking?
By Suw Charman-Anderson, Contributor at Forbes
One of the hardest decisions faced by any author, and something that is especially tricky for self-publishers, is knowing when your book is finished. For some, the problem is impatience, the urge to just be done with it all and to get the book out as soon as humanly possible. I wrote about this in February last year in a post called Don’t Publish That Book!, much to the disgust of some commenters. For those people, getting your stuff out there as fast as possible, getting feedback and sales, is more important than making sure it is of a high standard.
For others, the problem is knowing when to put the pen down and stop tinkering. “Art is never finished, only abandoned”, as Paul Valery may once have said, and for many writers it can become difficult to reach a point of comfort with that abandonment. There’s always something else to improve, something else to polish. I definitely fall into the latter camp, and I read back past works with a hypercritical eye that spots every tiny mistake and mentally chastise myself for being so thick as to have missed blindingly obvious flaws in my work.
So how do you know when your book is done? What is the literary equivalent of sticking a fork in it? I asked five writers how they know when a story or book is cooked right through.
A thriller writer who self-publishes under the name JF Penn, Joanna’s novels include the Arkane trilogy: Pentecost, Prophecy and Exodus.
“How do you know when a story/book is finished? These are two separate questions.
“The story is finished when the arc is complete, when you have explored the world of the characters and their journey is over. That can happen when the first draft is done, when you know how it all hangs together. There may be further aspects to explore, but you feel a sense of culmination, a weight that just feels right.
“But the book is nowhere near finished at that point. You now have to go through the editing process, refining and polishing until the book, the product, is finished. All writers have their own editing process, but you need to stop eventually. I don’t believe there will ever be a point when you can read a work and not want to change something, but you have to draw the line. I work through two major drafts then I use two editors and a number of beta-readers, plus the rewriting that entails, before I am satisfied that the book is finished.“
So how do you know when your novel is finished? Let me know in the comments!
Read the rest of the story here.
From Guest Blogger Randall