The Insecure Writers Support Group meets every first Wednesday. If you miss a few months, they drop you from the list, so it's important to check that out and sign up again if you continue to post. Anyway, this month's prompt is:
"When do you know when your story's ready?"
This is something that's incredibly important to me. I'm of the mind that half of writing is actually thinking. Probably more than half. Say you have a story idea. Sit on it. And then continue sitting on it. During this period where you are sitting on it, you should be thinking about it. (Otherwise it would be kind of pointless.)
The idea, if you're thinking about it, begins to change. To evolve. To grow more complicated. Unless you're a crazy genius who can think up ideas fully formed (and let's face it, if you're a member of something called the Insecure Writers Support Group, and I don't mean to offend you, you're probably not a crazy genius) (or you really, really are; it depends), chances are you need to give your ideas some time to grow.
People have this crazy idea that writing is the art of stringing sentences together, a series of events and characters doing things. But that's not the story at all. The story is what it all means, what all these events and characters mean to each other. I'm not saying that every story has to be an infinitely complex work of great historical significance. You can get people to like lightweight, meaningless (and yes, poorly written) drivel. Like everything else in life, reading takes shape as a popularity contest. But if you want to be honest with yourself, you want to write the best possible thing you can, so that if a complete stranger, who didn't otherwise imagine themselves reading your book, whether because they're not inclined to the genre you write in, or never heard of you, but just thought the idea sounded neat, ends up reading your story, they won't hate you with the heat of a thousand suns.
Not to exaggerate or anything. I'm just saying, it shows when you don't think things through. I'm not talking about disagreeing with your conclusions. I'm not talking about writing as an academic exercise. I'm not saying you should write such intricate plots that events and characters become meaningless. I'm just saying, the more you think about a story, the more it should appear logical, all the way around.
Because the more you think about an idea, the more it changes, the more it makes sense to you, and therefore, hopefully, others.
That's when you know you're ready to write, when you've more or less thought everything out. Some people think that's kind of the job of revisions, but I think if you've waited that long, you didn't wait long enough to write the story to begin with. I mean, sure, you can change things after you've written the thing, but it shouldn't resemble tossed salad. If you write a story like tossed salad, I'm just saying, maybe you shouldn't be writing.
Writing the story is an entirely different matter, of course.