Friday, August 2, 2013

How do you know when you are done: Advice from Mary Amato

Mary Amato was kind enough to respond to my query about how a writer knows when she is "done" with a project:

How do I know when I'm done? Definitely NOT by reading and re-reading and re-reading.

I step away from the pages, from my carefully-crafted sentences and I consider the big picture of the story. I often do this by creating a kind of visual outline or map of the story and then looking at it to see if it all adds up.

I try to show this in my videos that I post on the writing process. [For Mary's tips on the writing process, see the Resources Index on her web site.]

 Usually once I have everything right with the plot, then the voice and the writing comes more easily. Then I know when I'm done if I feel what my characters are feeling in every scene.

 --Mary Amato

[Feel free to send me your ideas on how you know when you are "done" and I'll share them in future posts.]

1 comment:

Phil Sanderson said...

I just published my breakout thriller, 2018: An Uncivil War. Not only did I painstakingly write and re-write this novel several times, but I also handled all illustrations and promotional activities myself.

Upon completion of the writing, I had that unrealistic idea that all beginning writers get: that my novel will quickly ignite and catch fire with readers all over the internet. I soon discovered that -- even with the promotional support of family, friends, two coffee shops, two college campus bookstores, a pawn shop, and a guest invitation to a radio show -- even my best efforts were not even NEAR good enough to reach that writing standard as I originally imagined it. I've actually sold only 27 copies between Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

So how do I know when I am done with a project? I'm never REALLY done with a writing project, because promotion of my work is actually ongoing and never-ending. As for the writing part of it, I've found that three or four revisions should normally do the trick. Maybe one more if you do not have an editor working with you.