Writing Tip — When to Let a Story Go

cloudw-2238634_1280I’m an overprotective parent. When it comes to my stories. Also, with my kids, but that’s not the point of this post.

My latest short story, “A Rose from the Ashes” is due to the publisher on April 1. From the time it was accepted for an anthology of Christmas stories, I have had two and half months to polish it before an editor sees it. I think it’s the best piece of fiction I’ve written and can’t wait to introduce readers to it. I’ve asked friends, family, and friends of family for feedback. I’ve reviewed and analyzed and dissected and then scrubbed it up so it will look its best.

With the deadline looming, doubts have crept in. Have I done enough? Is my story ready to face the world alone? Have I nurtured it to the point where it can take care of itself?

With a lot of my writing, like blog posts, I just have to get the words down and get the piece out the door. But with other works, especially my fiction, I work with them so long, I develop a relationship with them.

But the point of my writing is to share it, so I have to let the stories go. I have discovered two ways to know when it’s time release my stories.

I can’t stand it

When I have gone over a story so much that I can’t stand to hear one more word from the mouth of my characters, it’s time to share it, either to be published or to let others read it and critique it.

I’m tinkering

At some point, any changes I make aren’t improving the story. They just make it different. So when I’m only trading a word here or there, I know I’m done. I’m afraid of overworking the story, like pie crust. If I tinker with it too long, I might change the basic premise and lose what attracted me to the story to begin with.

So yesterday, I attached my short story to an email and hit “send”. It’s time to let my story fend for itself and turn my attention to other pieces.

Do you feel protective of your writing/ How do you know when to let a story go?

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