Q: When do you decide a story is finished?
A: I often don’t know where a story is going, or how it will wrap up, until I get there. I believe that good stories are discoveries, or at least have an unpredictable organic quality, where the characters and events start to chart their own course. While some stories are thought out before I begin writing — or the end is known and it is the journey that needs to be discovered — I am often surprised by the ending and say to myself, “So that’s what happens.”
In terms of when I consider a story finished, as in, I’ve worked on it enough, not until it gets published. Almost every time I reread a story, I find something I hadn’t noticed before or that I could do better. Each time a story is rejected, I work on it before sending it out again. It is only that final stamp of approval that ends the process.