Wednesday on Writing: When Is It Done?

How do you know when your story is done? That is a very good question, and I’m afraid there isn’t a very good answer. Because, for the most part, it never really is.

“But you have stories and books that you have published. Aren’t they done?”

Well, yes, they are. At least, they have a beginning, middle, and end. I am satisfied with all of the pieces, how they fit, where they go, where they finish. I’ve written, edited, revised, edited again, maybe revised again on all of them and I concluded that they were ready to be read by all of you. And so they are.

But done?

Well, that’s a different question. For many writers, I think, nothing is ever truly done. It’s finished and ready for publication, but I suspect we all feel that we could maybe tweak this or that, reword a bit, do a little more. It’s part of trying to make each and every piece the best it can be. We want everything to be perfect.

But perfection, in writing as in just about everything else, is unattainable. Nothing is ever really, truly perfect. And that goes for the stories I write as much as it does for anything else I do. None of us is perfect, and because of that, nothing we do will be absolutely perfect.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be very, very good, perhaps even great. But I, at least, am very prone to thinking “If I give it one more read through, I can fix all the problems.” Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the “problems” I am thinking to fix aren’t really problems. Sometimes, it’s just that striving for absolute perfection, that unreachable goal, that stands in the way.

So, how do I know when it’s finished versus needing more work? Well, obviously, if I read through something and I find I have questions and that threads are left hanging or the main conflict isn’t resolved in a logical manner, then it needs work. If I find I am reading through and changing “basement” to “cellar” and on the next pass, change it back again, it’s probably time to call it finished. You can nitpick a story to death and too often, it starts to unravel from all the “fixing”. When the fix doesn’t really improve the story, it’s time to stop fixing.

That doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Lots of writers go back sometimes years later and revise and republish a new version of an old story. At that point, maybe you have found ways to really make it better because you have improved and grown as a writer. That is a legitimate reason to say it’s not done. But, for the most part, you have to know when to stop. When to understand that this is finished. It’s ready. That kid is all growed up and wants to be out there on its own.

Time to let go.

(Note: These Wednesday Writing posts are my opinion and my experience only. Nothing I say here is absolute. Nor is it necessarily right for everyone. Writing, like most things, is not one size fits all. If you find something you think helps you, great. If not, no problem. These posts are me. You do you. We’re all in this together, and sometimes, we can learn from each other. So, IMO, YMMV, and all that.)


Two's Company small thumbnailMedusa “Deuce” Grainger is smart, confident, and as good a pilot as she is a poker player. A freelance shuttle jockey working for an independent terraforming company, she’s left her former life, and her father, behind. Mostly.

Now, her AI has downloaded another Personality off a wrecked ship, and he’s acting oddly ever since. Someone wants to sabotage her friend’s company out of business, evidence of tampering is being corrupted, and people have died.  With an investigation looming that could shut down the company and cut off her main source of income, it’s up to Deuce to figure out what’s going on, and how all the pieces fit the puzzle. Along the way, she reconnects with an old friend and discovers someone is stalking her. Deuce will need to connect all the dots fast, because more lives are at stake than anyone suspects.

Learn more here.

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here



tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.




tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.





In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here


Five and Daemonthumb

Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon, the Yo-Yo Files #1, is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here



Things have been quiet. No demonic possessions, no otherworldly intrusions, nothing. And then Lucifer shows up in Johnny’s living room, claiming that two archangels are missing, and something is definitely not right in the heavenly- and other- realms. Saying he has nothing to do with it- this time- he asks Johnny and Cerise to help him find out what’s happening, and who is behind the disappearances. While they are trying to do just that, Lucifer is devilnapped by a larger-than-life serpent. He manages to get a clue to Johnny before he disappears. Johnny and Cerise are left to puzzle out the disappearances and try to find the missing angels. Oh, and stop what could mean the ultimate destruction of pretty much everything.

Snake’s Alive, the Yo-Yo Files #2 is an urban fantasy novelette with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here.

2 thoughts on “Wednesday on Writing: When Is It Done?

    1. There are good reason s to edit and republish older works, for sure. It’s that devil on a new one that can trap you into never feeling it’s quite done. Gotta take a deep breath and type The End at some point.


Comments are closed.