Not Everything is a Work in Progress

Dean of the Magnificent Freckles. This is the best pic I could find while simultaneously avoiding spoilers.

My husband and I have been obsessing over that show Supernatural lately, like only two boring married people with a subscription to Netflix can. I sort of love mainlining a new show until we run out of episodes and our married-talk becomes so overwhelmed with quotes and show references that no one outside of our bubble can understand us. We’ve done it with Dexter, Weeds, The Inbetweeners (UK), and I’m sure we’ll keep on doing it until we’re old and grey or until Netflix is installed in our brains and we can sit together and watch different shows at the same time. Best friends forever! Anyway, like I said, we were watching Supernatural. (We’ve only just finished season 2, so no spoilers!)

I noticed that at the end of many of the episodes, I’d say something like “They probably should have left out that last scream. Would’ve made the ending stronger.” My husband rolled his eyes.

Seriously, though. You should watch this movie.

We also went to see Celeste and Jesse Forever over the weekend, and I assessed the story after it was over. Pondered how the first plot point was essentially glossed over at the beginning with a montage, and how for me that worked but for my husband it didn’t give the emotional arc as much oomph. Again, my husband rolled his eyes.

I recently read The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta. MELINA MARCHETTA, for Christ’s sake. And I found plenty of things that I wanted to change in that story, too.

But these are all finished products, as much as a story’s telling can be finished. They don’t need my inner editor paring them down or trying to improve upon them. Not everything is a work in progress, even if it’s difficult for me to stop seeing things that way.

Besides, the stories aren’t mine to change anyway. I have my own stories to edit. Stories that I never feel are done and that I’m constantly paring down or trying to improve. Today I overheard my husband (this is a really husband-centric post today, I don’t know why…) tell one of his friends that when I sold a novel (he really said ‘when,’ which, awww…), I’d probably bring White Out and a red pen to book signings and tell readers, “No, that’s not right. Let me fix it.”

So, when does a story go from work in progress to finished product? Does it ever? I need to find some sort of delineation, if one exists. For my own sanity. So my husband can stop rolling his eyes at me like he’s made of those googley eyes that you craft with in elementary school.

How do you decide when a WIP is finished?

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2 comments

  1. Chihuahua Zero says:

    Inner critics are so hard to suppress. I know that feeling. Sometimes, it comes out during the book and starts considering how to tighten the prose or such.

    However, beta reading a novel with a radically different style than mine gave me some perspective.

  2. Rebecca B says:

    I love the image of bringing white-out and a red pen to a book signing.
    I never feel finished–I suppose if I ever publish something you have to let it go one it goes to press. But until that point? There’s always something to tweak.

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