Seriously, how did it become October? If one of you responds, “one day at a time…”

I’ll shake my fist. Yeah, shake it.

It is also the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is time once again for the monthly blog hop of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I say it every month, but people, if you write, you know you get insecure. Join us. Feel better about your writer self.



I’ve decided to break with tradition and actually write about the suggested question. Also, I gave the answer some actual thought. Frightening, I know. It is so not like me to prepare. The subversive in me isn’t ready for this sort of compliance.

The October question-

When do you know your story is ready?

Two things come to mind when I think on this. First, when do I know the text I’ve written is ready to be read by others. Second, when do I feel like the story idea is ready to be composed.

I know the story is ready to be read by others (non beta readers) when I’ve edited, and edited, and edited, and edited, and finally, feel like any errors or flaws are cosmetic. Trusting my beta readers is essential as well. If I have addressed their comments and suggestions, then I’m more confident. There is always part of me that argues the story is never ready, but that is either arrogance or foolishness (both?). No text will every be perfect. Instead, I strive for clean. If it reads/looks clean, and the story flows nicely, I’m more comfortable sharing it.

As for when I feel the story is ready to be written, that is a bit more complicated. I’ve just started writing my 4th novel, and had a few ideas/story lines brewing about in my head. Two were equally intriguing, and as October approached, I struggled to choose one over the other. I rarely outline. It gets in the way, takes me out of my creative space and (for me) makes my writing feel rigid. If something comes along that threatens to alter the outline, I resist it, which makes for bad writing. Instead, I prefer to have a general idea of where I want to end up, then let the story dictate its own path towards that conclusion.

With only two days until I was set to begin writing, I still had not decided. Both ideas, nebulous as they were, offered distinct and different challenges. They excited me equally. They both felt necessary. It was a comfort to have multiple ideas to choose between. For me, that is rare.

I sat down at the computer on Monday, still unsure what I would do. Finally, I took a deep breath and typed a first sentence. That was the moment. The name that appeared, the setting in which the just created *she* found herself, revealed the idea I had chosen.

The story rolls about in my head. It changes over and over, sometimes ending up discarded, or altered, but it is in there. As soon as the first sentence is on the page, that is when I know the story is ready.

Exciting stuff, right? Now, tell me when you know your story is ready.

Also, I went to the dentist today and my teeth feel weird.


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About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

32 responses to “IWSG-October”

  1. Rhonda Strong Gilmour says :

    It’s never occurred to me to question when a story is ready to begin. As soon as a glimmer of story pops into my head, it’s ready. That is, it’s ready to become an outline, a stream-of-consciousness blob of free-writing, an experiment. Ah–I see what you mean. The actual story usually incubates for a while in these sorts of scribblings until a plot begins to form, sort of like a fetus developing a backbone. That’s when it’s ready to write.

  2. authorcrystalcollier says :

    I had one story I was scared to start for years because I didn’t think myself expert enough to address the subject. (The MC is a snappy NYC Latina–you can understand my hesitation.) I finally came to the realization that I knew her voice well enough (she’d been talking in my head for YEARS), so I might as well jump in and let my expert consultant (a NYC Latina) help me clear up inconsistencies later. Sometimes jumping is the only thing to do, eh?

  3. Angela Wooldridge says :

    Yes, I have a story ‘brewing’ process too. Although I don’t think it’s deliberate, but the ideas tend to wash around in my head until there’s enough of an idea formed to start transferring it to the page

  4. Stephanie Scott says :

    I also let ideas ruminate a bit before writing. I do any sort of non traditional preparation that is not outlining, which kills my vibe too 🙂 I do have character journey points sketched out which help me determine the plot.

    Here’s my October IWSG post: Top 10 Ways to know if you’re ready to share your writing

    • fenster says :

      I like to have those journey points sketched as well. Sometimes, I skip some as they become less relevant. Other times, different points appear. What a fun process.

  5. Chrys Fey says :

    Knowing when a story is ready to be written is easy for me. Once I get the idea and know how I want it to end, I start writing it.

    I’m glad you answered the question. Hopefully there will be other questions you’ll want to answer. 🙂

    • fenster says :

      Silly me, I usually don’t see the question until I’ve already written a post. I often think, well that would have been way more fun to write about than the stuff I just posted.

  6. Susan Gourley says :

    You touched on something I forgot to mention. How do you know when it’s ready to start writing the story? I’ve started too soon before and then it’s really, really hard work and often stalls out.

  7. emaginette says :

    When there isn’t much else to add. 😉

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  8. Diane Burton says :

    Stories percolate in my head all the time, esp. when I’m writing something else. Deciding between 2 WIPs is harder. Usually it’s the one whose characters shout loudest. Lately it’s been which story is the most complete. Whatever works for you is the right way. Best wishes. Weird teeth and all. 🙂

    • fenster says :

      Thank you! I enjoy reading that others face similar situations and conflicts regarding which story to pursue. It may make us weird, but I also hear those characters shouting, or sometimes pricking at me in my sleep.

  9. ahtdoucette says :

    I am getting a lot of good ideas from reading others. I have to be honest, I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in the quicksand of Neverending Revision and this is really helpful.

    • fenster says :

      Ugh, I know that quicksand. It’s not a very nice place to find yourself. I love editing, but at some point, you need to feel like you’ve made good changes and that things feel more complete.

  10. shellflower says :

    I love your twist on looking at when a story is ready to begin. Awesome. I agree about outlines, for me they limit creativity. Good luck with your new story!

  11. Liesbet says :

    Are you still high on novacine? You had a plan and put thought into this posting!? Just kidding, of course. It is intriguing to me how you decided which topic to pick for your last novel. I’m sure there is talent and intuition involved to put that first sentence down. And then, it clicks… I hope one day, I will feel a good theme click for me as well. In the meantime, I wish you inspirational times and fun writing!

    • fenster says :

      Thanks! And don’t worry, this whole *planning* stuff out won’t last. I’m much happier flying by the seat of my pants. On an unrelated note, I hope your cross country travels have been enjoyable.

      • Liesbet says :

        No plans are the best plans! Keep on plugging away. The road trip is going well, but we are exhausted after three more than full days on the road and needing to work in the meantime, with flaky cell phone coverage. As a matter of fact, we’ll be in your neck of the woods tomorrow (Thursday) and are spending tonight in Green River, Wyoming. Too bad we have little time. I’d love to meet up one day!

        • fenster says :

          Oh sheesh. Southern Wyoming is um, a bit ugly? Yeah, unattractive. And yes, it would be really great to meet. Let’s hope the occasion presents itself.

          • Liesbet says :

            It’s not too bad where we are now. I love the rocks sticking up everywhere. Today, our drive is a bit shorter, so we will take a little scenic detour through Big Cottonwood Canyon, and then halfway through Nevada by tonight. It is so nice to be out west again. 🙂

  12. Mary Aalgaard says :

    Great answers. I like how you chose to explain how you know when you’re ready to start a new story. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but it’s true. Some ideas have to walk around in our psyches for a while before they come in our writing.

  13. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor says :

    The subversive inside should be pleased with your well thought out answers. I think you should eat lots of sugary treats so that your teeth feel normal again 🙂

  14. jmh says :

    Wow, it’s gotten a lot busier around here! That’s great to see. 🙂

    Starting a new novel is so exciting. I love that moment. I know I’m ready to start when the protagonist shows up and starts talking to me. If I don’t start writing then, I’m at risk of losing that story altogether. (And yes, this is one of the reasons I don’t get any sleep–I let the characters run the show.)

    Happy writing!

    • fenster says :

      IWSG days are getting nice and busy. Now, if I can figure out what this blog wants to be about, maybe that can become more normal than exception.

      Week two and my book is fighting me. Maybe I started the story too soon. Ugh.

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