April 15, 2012

The book is finished! Now, for the enforced waiting....

It has now been a couple of weeks since I finished my draft of For Love, For Power. I am not a writer who powers through end to end before going back to revise. In fact, I tend to go back over and over, reviewing what I'm writing as I write it, and making sure that everything before provides a sufficient foundation for what I'm writing currently. If I find there is a problem with (to pick a random number) Chapter 23, and that in order to solve that problem I have to go back and change things slightly in Chapter 3, Chapter 7, and Chapter 17, I'll make those changes while I'm writing Chapter 23, rather than waiting. The result of this is that by the time I reach the end, my writing is highly polished at the front end, and becomes successively less so by the time I reach the finish line.

I therefore have to fight very hard not to give into my urge to send the draft to everyone as soon as it is finished.

Sometimes I enforce a waiting period upon myself. Sometimes I just send the draft out knowing that my critique partners will say, "Um, the end needs some refining..."

This time I have scheduled my upload to my critique group, which enforces a waiting period and is giving me a chance to do something I really like to do: read the book end to end and clean up stuff. This doesn't happen so often to me with short stories, because it's so simple just to read the whole thing during the writing process. But with a novel of this length (100K+ words) it's almost impossible to catch everything, especially what I call "missed opportunities" - places where nothing's really wrong, but you could have done more. The funniest one so far that I've found is a place where I skipped a day. Basically I'd acted as if nothing happened one day in the middle of the story. Um, oops. Given the way this story works, I have to make sure something happens on that day, or it will be incredibly weird. Not that anyone would necessarily notice, but I'd sure kick myself if something like that slipped through into the final draft!

If you're writing the end of something and it's not for a publisher's deadline that is coming up right on the heels of typing (or writing) "the end," I encourage you to take a bit of time for enforced waiting. Walk away from the manuscript completely if you can. It can make a big difference.