Elana Johnson recently posted about being at 100%. That got me thinking…how do you KNOW you’re at 100%? I mean really know?

Most of us have learned NOT to query until we think our ms is ready. And we know not to send out our partial or full, until it is really ready – until these things are 100% (and dude, if you don’t know that…trust me, I’ve learned these things the hard way…don’t send out until you are at 100%).


How do you know when something is at 100%?

For me, I read and reread. Revise and revise and revise. And then reread again. All the while I am never really SURE it is ready. Even after the crit partner feedback, the betas, the revisions, I am left wondering.

Once I finally am willing to let go and query or submit, I am still constantly thinking…it is ready? Should I do more?

When the partials or fulls are passed on without specific feedback, I am left wondering again…what needs to be changed? Is it still at 100%? Do I need to pull it and revise some more?

Ultimately, I don’t have an answer to this question. I guess, for me, I know the ms is the best I can currently make it. And for now, that has to be enough.

If I get feedback that indicates something different, if I get too many passes on submissions – then I will KNOW it is not at 100%.

But for now, I have to walk on faith that it is ready.

How do you guys KNOW? I really need to know….


13 thoughts on “Am I there yet?

  1. I was hoping you could tell me hehe 🙂

    My guide, so far, has been the same as yours. I’m currently finishing up revising my rewrites after feedback from submitting (I was lucky to get feedback!). Once I realize that I’m not really fixing anything anymore, just moving words around or changing words for different ones, I know I’ve reached my limit of what I can do and I’m just fiddling. Fiddling seems to be a good sign that you’re as done as you’re going to be.

  2. I know something is ready when I’m sick and tired of looking at it and start only changing a word here and there when I read through it (I’ve never read through anything I’ve written without at least changing one word or comma at least).

    Ultimately I guess we just need to trust ourselves!

  3. Love this! Yeah walking on FAITH. Here’s what I hate most–when I find typos after the fact. Typos that I never caught when reading and re-reading and no one else caught either. I just think that may be inevitable. sigh

  4. Great post. I’m still treading the “Am I ready to query yet” doubts.
    I guess it’s just a feeling when you’ve revised as much as you can.

  5. May I suggest changing the way you think about this? Using quantitative language (100%) to describe the quality of a piece of writing sets up an imaginary goal. Like the horizon, you can move toward it forever and ever and ever and not get any closer.

    What’s the purpose of a specific piece of work? Does it achieve THAT goal? Does a piece of writing move you? Does it challenge a preconceived notion? Does it effectively call for a particular action or understanding or evoke a particular emotion, mood, etc.? Does the writing style match the intended purpose?

    When you write passionately, as you do about bullying, I suspect you can answer that qualitative kind of questioning pretty readily. Who cares if you can do more? Of course you can! You’re not dead yet.

  6. I think I am close. One beta has said, “Query this sucker!” while others still want tweaking. Once I’ve tweaked all my beta comments, I’ll be done, for my standards, at least!

  7. I don’t think you EVER hit 100%. I just don’t. Although writing is full of rules and absolutes, is STILL art. And to quote Leonardo da Vinci, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

  8. I think this is one of THE HARDEST parts about writing. We are SO guilty of being overeager and sending things out too soon, so I’m loving the advice in the comments.

  9. I never do feel like my work is finished. Even if I receive positive feedback. I will go back and read it myself and want to make more changes. It drives me crazy!

    I like ilexglabra comments. I think they are spot on!

  10. Yeah, I don’t think anything is ever 100%. There are always tweaks that can be made. On the other hand, figuring out when I’m query worthy? Hmmm, that’s taken me a couple years to figure out, and I’m still not sure yet.

    …but I think I’m getting closer!!!! *fingers crossed* 😉 Nice post, Christine!

  11. I can’t say you can ever really KNOW until someone gives you an offer unfortunately. The gauge I use is my crit partners. If I get final stamps from them and I can no longer see anything I want to change, then I send it out.

    I also have used contests as an added safety net because judges often offer great feedback.

    Great question, though. 🙂

  12. Getting to 100% is a state of emotional being. It’s a state of being where when the rejections come, you chalk it up to that your MS wasn’t right for that particular agent, that there will be the right agent out there for you and your work.

    It’s NOT about the writing. Well, it is, cuz that has to be good too, but it’s an emotional state of being. If you’re questioning, personally, I don’t think you’re there yet. You can know when your MS is the best you can make it, when you’ve gotten feedback and done all you can do. You can have the confidence to say, “S/He wasn’t the right agent for me, but I’ll find one.”

    It’s emotional, baby. And sometimes that’s harder to reach than writing. But you can do it.

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