That’s a question every writer deals with constantly. Okay, okay. Maybe it’s just me. I confess. I’m a fusser and worrywart. I write YA adventure short stories mostly, and after fussing with the plot and characters for a while, I will tweak placement of actions and feelings. Then I turn to the biggest stall of all: words. Man! Can I waste days, if not weeks, on this.
In reality, a writer should have a logical routine to work through story or essay. Start with an idea or situation. For me, many times I begin with a poor unfortunate soul saddled with troubles. I’ve got to have that internal problem for my character to overcome. Many times it’s familial or deals with friends because it’s YA.
But then because I need excitement in my story, I look for danger lurking on the horizon of my character’s immediate future [because it’s short story]. That translates into location and, sometimes, a wild animal or two. A plot forms and I need to work through the logic of the story.
This is short story, so word count is important. Therefore, I trim and tuck telling details into action. I monkey with explanation and sense of what’s happening. Then I live in the fussing with crisp word choice: how to find one word to state the same action, thought, or feeling as several.
This is what hangs me up for weeks, sometimes, because in order to tuck in a clearer description or feeling or action in one place, I may need to trim words in another. Words are precious in short story, especially YA where the count is usually 1800 words. And the younger the story, the shorter the word count. Flash fiction works the same way.
So when do you know your story is ready to send out? You don’t. But if you follow through your own logical method and include critique, I always do, you can feel a teeny bit better about letting go. You need to send the story out to move on in life. And then pray. Or take a walk and try not to obsess over it. At least this is what I do. Do you have any suggestions or tips on when to send out your work to publishers?