Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
I know when a story is finished when there is not a single thing more I can think to do to it. And since I know at the start what the last line will be, I know when I’ve reached that point as logically as I can that it’s finished. As for the rewriting—it’s not foolproof, of course, but if you’re honest about having thought of every possibility and you still come back to what you have, what more can you do?
The main question of a novel is—did it amuse? Were you surprised at dinner coming so soon? Did you mistake eleven for ten? Were you too late to dress? And did you sit up beyond the usual hour? If a novel produces these effects, it is good; if it does not—story, language, love, scandal itself cannot save it. It is only meant to please, and it must do that or it does nothing.
When you’re socially awkward, you’re isolated more than usual, and when you’re isolated more than usual, your creativity is less compromised by what has already been said and done. All your hope in life starts to depend on your craft, so you try to perfect it. One reason I stay isolated more than the average person is to keep my creativity as fierce as possible. Being the odd one out may have its temporary disadvantages, but more importantly, it has its permanent advantages.