There is no greater moment of trepidation for a Playwright — or any author, really — when you’re dealing with a Director or an editor who replies — “I’ll know it when I see it” — in response to your asking for clarification on a change they want made.
If you can, run away from that answer and I mean turn around, gather your things, and run away forever because hearing that sentence is the death knell for your project: You are dealing with a power provoker who has no clue what it wants.
The trick these “Un-Knowers” use to try to get some understanding of what they clearly do not comprehend is to have you rewrite the scene or section several different times and many different ways and you present all those versions to them for the picking: “They’ll Know It When They See It.”
You can see how that deceptive phrase sets up a never-win situation because you are caught in an endless rewriting loop trying to guess what they want when they have no idea what they really want.
That lack of vision is common and that is why I always prefer Playwrights direct their own plays and authors publish their own books because command and control of the work is retained. Any criticism leveled at the completed work is completely owned by the original author and no excuses have to be made for following someone else’s “revision” of your original intent — that may have obliterated all your meaning and values.
When you are stuck with “I’ll Know It When I See It” you are left to negotiate with someone who has no clue about structure or character of dramatic tension. The way these types keep you in line is via the accusation-stated-as-fact: “Authors never really know what their work is about.” By making you doubt your talent, they are then able to get you to make their endless revisions because they “know better than you.” Don’t fall for that falsity. Remember, you know your work far better than anyone else and, in the end, you alone will be held responsible for the final product with your name on the project.
Don’t be fooled into getting hooked into the “I’ll Know It…” revision trap. You know what you want. You write and revise as best you can and then be done with it. Do not allow the endless revision cycle of searching for meaning by those who obviously do not understand you or your work.