The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.  You can join in with your own post and sign up here, or just go to the list and hop around, seeing what other gems people have posted, or go to our awesome co-hosts for October: Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley!

You may find many people are using the prompt for the month – How do you know when your story is ready?

Good question, and the answer probably displays the degree of your insecurity as a writer – or maybe your experience.

In my innocence, I thought the story was finished when I wrote it and edited it, and it was as good as I could make it, so I published it.  Then I realised that some of the comments people made were very wise, and the book needed editing to clarify some parts, so I changed it.  Then I got beta readers as well as editors, and things have been working well for some time.

Recently I’ve had the experience where that hasn’t worked so well, and I have a book which has been revised again, and went to another editor, to see whether it’s up to scratch.  In fact when I sent her the copy to decide whether she would take it on, I said “or whether it should really be consigned to the rubbish tip.”  After her comments I’m seriously thinking of the rubbish tip.

But this is nothing unusual, really.  I was at the Noirwich Festival of Crime Writing in mid-September, and these fabulous traditionally-published authors all made comments about sending their perfect book to their editors and getting all the plot-holes, non sequiteurs, and badly formed characters brought to their attention.  That’s why we have editors.  I find it deeply depressing that I can’t seem to sort out my books before I send it to them, but still… And I know many writers say there are things they would change if they rewrote their book a few years later.

There’s a great guest post on The Ninja Librarian from author Leslie Nagel, that shows what she went through – if you haven’t seen it – check it out.  It’s given me a bit more hope than I had.

Of course one of the reasons for wanting to change our books is because we’ve grown, learnt, and improved our skills.  But sometimes you just need to stop and move on.  Finish it.  Yes, improve it according to the guidance or prompts you receive from your professionals.  But when you decide to let it go, let it go.

It’s your little baby, finally ready to leave home and go to college, or get married or whatever…

Let it fly free.

Unless it really needs remedial work.

Is there anyone out there who would beta read a science fiction book for me? Leave a note in the comments, if so.  Although at the moment I’m near the point of giving up on it.


It’s #Inktober, and I’m doing daily pen and ink sketches – chapter illustrations for the forthcoming book 7 in the Princelings series, Willoughby the Narrator.  See them on the Princelings Facebook pageTwitter, or my new Pinterest board for Inktober.

Here’s yesterday’s.  It needs a little tidying before it goes in the book.

diamond souls story
Willoughby’s Story “Diamond Souls”
#IWSG – When is your story ready?

12 thoughts on “#IWSG – When is your story ready?

  • 5 October, 2016 at 9:11 am
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    What a lovely sketch. I used to watch my mother do pen and ink; she’d labor over each picture for days. I can’t imagine doing one a day. You’re amazing.

    • 5 October, 2016 at 9:49 am
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      Thanks, Suzanne. I think that’s why Inktober started – to get people to do something small and quick, rather than labour for days. I think for days, then spend an hour or two doing the pencil version, then come back to it later before inking it 🙂 And they are small, maybe 5×3 ins max.

  • 5 October, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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    Hi Jemima,
    One of the things that I have learned in this writing craft is that a professional editor is necessary. I found that out in 2012. Fortunately for me, my book only been sent out to three or four agents. That when I accepted and decided that an outside pair of critical eyes are a god send.
    Thank for your post.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

  • 5 October, 2016 at 4:15 pm
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    Those outside eyes are so important! But ultimately, the decision lies with the author, and that includes the decision to keep re-writing as long as it takes. I go with the advice of the woman who edited Death By Ice Cream for me: if there’s something in the book you love, it’s worth the effort to make it good. BTW, that was a LOT of effort in that case, so don’t give up!

    You know I’m always ready to beta-read for you. Don’t you dare deep-six Pete and Lars!

    • 5 October, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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      The good thing about the rethink is that there’s now absolutely no time pressure on it. It has to go to the back of the line, currently fronted by Willoughby the Narrator.

      And that give my brain a chance to think of what is actually needed in the first part of the book in question, and what is window dressing. So yeah, maybe it will actually end up better! And I get to read things like Chuck Wendig’s post today, and use them!

  • 5 October, 2016 at 5:48 pm
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    Hi Jemima – wonderful sketch … would love to draw … but as you learn, grow and develop with your ideas – I’m sure your stories are wonderful to read – I love geology! Cheers Hilary

  • 6 October, 2016 at 2:04 am
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    That’s a lovely sketch!

    And I love your account of a story’s readiness.

  • 6 October, 2016 at 2:30 am
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    Jemima! Your sketch is lovely! But, you knew I would come and read your post; you are always so thoughtful. Writing is one of the most difficult things I believe I’ve ever attempted and that includes playing the viola, and I do not for one moment believe that talent or drive has anything to do with it. It has more to do with the POSSIBILITIES that lie within every story, scene, within every character and how they can possibly affect the outcome of your story.

    When certain things are done in music, you have plenty of latitude, but you don’t want to go too far off the mark, else the result is an unlistenable piece of music, For example, I really love Sibelius Symphony no. 2 and I’ve played it several times. The tempi markings and dynamics are written right into the score, as is the rubatos and slowing and speeding up. I tried to listen to a recording the other day by a conductor (I cannot even remember his name now) and the 2nd movement was unbearable, because of his interpretation. Now, I’m no purist and can be brought over to a new way of playing something, but if you’re going to make the music lose all meaning, forget it. The conductor went outside the perimeter Sibelius had set for that movement.

    Writing is NOTHING like this and as one progresses into a story, I am sure that YOU as a writer, and being as careful as you are, are constantly thinking ahead; how is this going to affect my characters? Their world? To that end, you have plenty of experience “under your belt” and can use your beta readers and editors. Of course, there are going to be times when you think, “hmmm, coulda done that…” I’ve done that with recital pieces years later. All in all, plenty for me to think about; but, I’ve only just posted my first-ever piece of fiction on my blog. I have miles and miles and miles to go.

    I’d love to be a beta reader, but we’re full-on in the symphony season and I’m going to be in Japan for a month, playing. Catch me next time, Jemima. Thanks for sharing! Mary <3

    • 6 October, 2016 at 10:16 am
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      Wow, thank you for that wonderful and thoughtful comment. I see what you mean about the music, and it’s what irritates me about certain recordings not made in the style I think it should be, although I don’t know whether it’s ‘truer’ to the composer or not. But if you were the composer, you would have the same struggles as the writer, perhaps?

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