Monday, September 12, 2011

Law 9: Completion - Baby Bear's Example

Baby Bear is a good candidate for the makers' Yoda: in addition to being about the right size and easy to underestimate, the diminutive ursine possesses uncommon wisdom. Where his parents veered to one thermal extreme or the other, the bear child had porridge that was just right.

Just Right is much harder than it appears. How many of us have the character, will power, and wisdom to eat just the right amount of dessert, potato chips, or vegetables? How many of us own, rent, or use more than we actually need for housing, transportation, and the tens of thousands of other conveniences money can buy? How many of us blithely accept a public sphere that is wholly dedicated to excess?

This is why finishing--and finishing right--is the highest ideal of the makers.

Lest the litany of things that are not Just Right sound too depressing, let me remind you that we live in an age of unprecedented access to art, science, and technology: we're surrounded by examples of Just Right from every field of human endeavor.

And when we consider those examples, there's one word that recurs in almost all discussions of their aesthetics. Regardless of the art, be it painting or sword-making, dance or naval architecture, the consistent criterion by which all the works are judged is balance.

So how do you know the work is complete?

When it is balanced.

When it is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.

Put another way, something that is balanced can stand on its own. Your work is finished when it can stand on its own.

Image: Bill Longshaw /


  1. It's so hard to know when your manuscript is just right. Mine is with beta readers again and I'm hoping I'm moving closer to that point.

  2. Yes, I agree. Balance is the key. And just getting it done! How many writers write and write and write and never feel done??!!

  3. It is hard.

    Just getting it done is hard.

    That's why it's part of the ninth and final law: finishing well can take a lifetime to master.


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