Furry Writers' Guild Forum

When the editing can stop

How can you know when the story is finished? When can the editing stop? I always say “ok, this is the last readthrough.” Then I read it again a few weeks later and I find more things to change. This could go on endlessly if I let it, so when does everyone else stop? How do you know when to release it?

There’s a quote about writing poetry that goes something like ‘there are no finished poems, only abandoned ones’, and I think that’s true of any writing. You can always find something to change.

For me, I usually stop messing with it when I hit the submission deadline…

I agree with Husky.

Also you’re eventually just going to have to stop and move on, or else you’ll be stuck on the same story forever. While multiple edits can improve a story, after a while you become so familiar with what you’ve written that you no longer have a fresh perspective on it. So if you’re still not sure of your story, hand it to someone else to get their opinion, then decide if it needs further work. Then just move on, because writing new stuff with all the knowledge gained from writing before, is how you’ll grow.

I’ve heard a similar expression. Something like “stories are never released. They escape.” it’s been long enough. Probably is time for this story to jailbreak.

I am indeed too familiar with this story. It is time for it to escape.

Mostly just a feeling. I catalog all the different drafts and variations, sometimes going back and adding something that I took out…or taking out something because it wasn’t working.

Once I hit that point after what feels like the millionth read through (usually after going through a couple Beta reads) and I’ve plugged up any significant plot-holes, or tightened up dialogue, or killed anything that had no bearing whatsoever to the plot overall, then I can at least finally say that the story is done and I can submit it.

I go over every day’s work-- sometimes two day’s worth-- before starting a new section. When I’m done with a work, I put it aside for at least six months so that I’m not too “close” to it, then edit it over and over until I think it’s “right”. Then, if it’s a sold work, the editor-publisher looks it over and marks it up. I fix the mark-ups, then edit it again and again until I make a complete pass finding nothing to change.

There will still be typos, etc. But not so many as there would’ve been. Excellence in proofreading is not among my gifts.

For me it’s a combination of two things: 1.) Have I polished the work to the best of my own currently ability, and 2.) Am I getting worried that the changes I’m now making are nit-picky and obsessive. I strive for 1 and then usually cut it off when I reach 2, the state of which is illustrated well by that scene from Better Call Saul where Kim Wexler changes the same three words back and forth about 10 times in her resignation letter (if I remember that scene right).