Are you done yet?

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”  Ernest Hemingway

No matter what the length of the project in front of me, at some point toward the end of the project, I always wonder, am I done yet?

Novels require so many drafts. Once the writer has the story completed, there are themes, characters, plot, dialogue, and the grammar, layout, and overall readability to consider.

I’m not sure if a writer ever feels as if the project is finished. After all, he or she has spent minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years working on a piece, and have toiled to get it to the best it can be.

When writing a novel, I enlist readers to provide a manuscript evaluation. This provides me an opportunity to see the material from a reader’s point of view. It allows my writing to speak for itself without all the background information of which I am aware. Readers’ opinions allow me to know if the amount of information is too much or not enough. Readers’ opinions provide a view of what should be added and cut out.

Subsequent drafts can weed out some of the areas that raise red flags or take the readers out of the world of the story. A world in which I want them immersed. A world where they are not spending too much time analysing and trying to figure something out.

Then there is phrasing and wording. There is nothing as powerful as being able to string together just the right words to create a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, a page. For myself, this process can be never-ending. It can be a challenge to find that right arrangement, that elusive ‘perfect’ word.

My useful trick is to read the project backwards. From backwards I mean the last sentence, then the next sentence. As the sentences are not in order and are essentially standing on their own, they have lives all to themselves.

My judgement as to the point of knowing if my project is complete is when I do the addition test. Is there anything that I can still add to the project? If all the points have been checked, reworked, drafted, and explored, then this ‘baby’ I have been working on is ready to go out into the world.


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