Stop making excuses and just write.
The words reverberate in my head – just like earworms, only there is no music. Just a voice, mocking me throughout each day: when I check Facebook it whispers “You’re making excuses…” When I check email, it gets a little louder. “STOP making excuses!” When I try to relax by reading, it practically shouts at me. “STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND JUST WRITE!”
My manuscript IS written. The first three chapters have been revised and polished because I’ve entered a couple of contests. The middle chapters have a little sag that I’m editing out, and the last few chapters need more work. But the manuscript is not finished – not like it should be for submission. Right or wrong, I want to have a “finished” product before I send it out.
Working toward that goal, I have a printed copy of my manuscript that I'm busy marking up. I selected a different font for each POV character, so I can easily see if I’m head-hopping. I have red and blue pens, and highlighters in assorted colors to mark things that jump out at me as I edit. I have a spiral notebook handy to jot down more detailed notes about facts that need checked, loose ends to tie up, and plot problems to resolve.
The contests have been a great learning tool. As an entrant and a judge, I’ve seen a variety of scoresheets. I’ve compiled my own list of questions to use as a guideline while editing. I also have a checklist of words to search, and replace.
But how do I know when to stop? How do I know when it’s ready to submit?
I regularly peruse writing websites. Another excuse? Maybe, but one I hope will pay off because I learn so much from experiences other authors share. For example, Holly Lisle (http://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/) suggests setting a completion date for revisions. “You need to keep yourself going with deadlines. It’s easy to fall into a nasty cycle of second-guessing yourself, revising your revisions, and never getting to the point of actually sending the manuscript out.”
Great advice I need to take.
But more importantly for me, on Holly’s site I found a clue to knowing when my book is finished.
Your objective is to make it the best book that you are capable of writing right now.
No, my manuscript won’t be perfect. But if I make it the best book I can right now, then I can move on to writing the next book and use everything I’ve learned to make it even better than the first!
How do you know when your manuscript is ready for submission? Is there one thing that is a deciding factor? Please share.