Friday, June 12, 2009

Perfecting the Imperfect

On my computing blog, I wrote about how we will never have bug free software and why. It set me wondering about how a writer decides that their story is finished.

I've been working in computing for over a decade as a programmer, web designer and fixer. I have designed and built computer systems from scratch, tested them to death, watched them fail on first contact with reality and then fixed them.

I've also pored over a story until I can't think straight, decided that it's finished, put it out for review and been shown some obvious howlers.

In both cases I've corrected the errors. Whereas with a program it either works or it doesn't, with a story there is always degree of latitude about what is right or wrong. Does that sentence really need a comma there, or should it be a semi-colon? Should you use the British spelling, the American or the Australian?

There is no such thing as a bug-free program, nor will there ever be. Neither will there be a perfectly written story. In both fields, we'll come close to perfection, but the effort must always be on doing the best we can, fixing the obvious and then moving on. If not, we'll spend a lifetime trying to perfect the imperfect.


T. Anne said...

I think until it's in print I could fiddle with a story.

Angie Ledbetter said...

All about the tinkering and refining.