A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing Process

K is for Knowing when enough is enough

Knowing the limits is probably one of the most valuable tools a writer can have in their writing toolbox.  When I first started writing, I struggled with this concept.  As a young inexperienced (in life) writer, I tended to gloss over scenes and write very flat narratives and dialogue.  As I aged, I noticed I focused too much on the descriptions and tended to ramble and describe everything to the exact shade the grass grew.  Now (I pray), I have hit the happy medium of enough detail to keep the reader interested and tell the story, but not too much to bore the reader into the horrid scanning mode.  I still tend to gloss over certain scenes and descriptions, but they are typically discovered in the beta-reading process and can be remedied.

Even with experience, writing and life experiences, there are still elements to knowing when enough is enough that I struggle with.  First is revisions.  I have revised and re-drafted Dissonance and Reverie multiple times and during each re-read, I find more changes that need to be made.  It seems to be a never ending cycle.  I fear that will always be the case, but I will eventually have to decided enough is enough and let my little bird fly into the world of readers.

The second aspect I struggle with is when to quit.  When I set out to write the Malcolm Stone story it was one book that branched into multiple.  After I discovered there was more story to tell than a standard book would allow, I decided to write a trilogy.  Now as I am redrafting the second book and outlining the third, I wonder if there is there still more story.  When do I say goodbye to Malcolm?  Do I finish the story with the third book or do I write more?  I still don’t know the answer to those questions, but I am certain time will tell.

Do you struggle with limits and know when enough is enough?


5 thoughts on “K is for Knowing when enough is enough”

  1. I think most artists (and I consider writing an art form) are generally their harshest critics and obviously as the work they are involved in is so deeply personal, it can become hard to know when “enough is enough”. I think it comes down to thinking carefully about how many other things you want to pursue (life & family goals, other writing or artistic pursuits) and that means you have to make choices pronto sometimes! I found working as a journalist changed my writing style completely. It was hand in a story, move on to the next, repeat, repeat, repeat. I got used to “editing” as I wrote because I literally had no time to re-draft sometimes. As for Malcolm, the fact that you aren’t sure about saying goodbye, suggests there is still something there to further develop. As I write and paint I can relate to the “is there more to explore/say/investigate?” conundrum. But if you listen to your gut really closely, the answers really do seem to emerge and often in the most serendipitous ways.


  2. There is editing, then there is tinkering. It’s hard to know the difference. I can ‘feel’ it when it’s done. when it wants to be done. When it still needs work. it pulls me in a different way. As for how many books to write, when to stop in a series, I don’t think there is a right answer. Margaret Atwood says she writes the stories that shouts the loudest. If Malcolm still shouts, keep writing!

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  3. It is hard enough to know when enough is enough, especially pertaining to editing. I do 2 rounds of revisions & a round to polish(mostly searching out my crutch words) then send to my CP. Another round of revisions & polishing before sending to beta readers. Then more revisions before getting down to the nitty gritty editing. Once it’s back from the proofreader though, those are the last edits I’ll do before I publish.

    As for when to end a series, I don’t know. My Flames series started as a standalone. I only wanted to write Adrian & Kayla’s story. Then, I realized James had a story to tell. So, did Mark and Callum and Nolan and…yeah, these “side” characters haven’t stopped talking yet. I have at least 2 more full novels and a couple novellas I want to write for it, plus I have ideas for 2 spin-offs from it. There are way too many ideas in my head. 😉

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  4. Yes, I struggle with limits too, Amanda. Right now I’m fighting with myself about how much is enough to write in one day’s time. At first, I thought anything less that 2000 words per day was not enough. I soon discovered that my brain just wasn’t going to last through that many words each and every day. I dropped my limit to 1000. Better but I felt the stress of the work being more of a job than a passion. I knew I’d crash and burn soon. Now I revamped my way of gauging how many words. It is know 400 words per session. How many sessions per day all depends on how energetic my creativity is feeling that day. I’m back to working on my passion. 🙂

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