In the Writer’s Chair – Taking a Novel from ‘Almost’ Done to ‘Actually’ Done

There’s a strange feeling that comes with almost being done with a novel.

Almost.

I’m having that sensation now.

The sequel to Finders KeepersGenius de Milo — is just about done.

The manuscript is written. I printed it out, doubled spaced, and have been reading the pages for the last few weeks.

I’ve read every word on every page, twice, and I’m down to the last 20 pages on the third and final read-through. Some pages are perfectly clean, others have lots of hand-written notes, and the rest are somewhere in between.

In addition, the Genius de Milo manuscript is in the hands of three trusted friends who I’ve worked with before, who will be sending back their notes within the next month.

There’s an excitement to being almost finished. A flutter of anticipation.

There’s also a sense of … ooooh, this book is going to be great, but I’m basically done, so … let’s ease up.

And there’s even a middling sense of … I want to be done already. I’ve been at this a long time. I’m ready to move on.

But mostly … I’m feeling good.

Yes, the fatigue can set in, but this time around I’m coming to the finish line with energy, focus, and enthusiasm.

I’ll be done reading pages within a day or so.

Then I need to get back to the computer, and start transferring all of my hand-written notes to the electronic file. In most cases we’re talking minor technical edits — a spelling mistake, a misplaced comma, the wrong character name!

But there are cases where a sentence or paragraphs needs to be re-written, and one section I’m going to cut entirely because it doesn’t serve the story. There’s some character development that I liked, but not enough to warrant slowing down the plot. So that’s gone.

I’ll have to fill in some details through Web searches, and fact check a few items.

I figure it’ll take me 2-3 weeks to input all of my changes, by which time I should be getting notes from my reader crew. What comes next will depend on their notes. They might have minor notes, or perhaps they’ll be more extensive. And then I’ll have to think on them, and decide which ones to incorporate into what by then should be a ‘clean’ manuscript.

But getting back to being almost done …

This is the time to really focus. To appreciate that being almost done isn’t the same as being actually done. It’s those final edits, those little tweaks that can clean up a mistake, take a passage from good to great, and even elevate the tenor of the entire novel.

The finishing touches are vital. At least that’s been the case for me.

Yet getting those final touches across with nuance and sophistication, while fighting off the fatigue of just wanting to be done, is critical. It’s where the mental discipline comes in. The focus.

So here I go, ready to finish another novel, one that I’m awfully excited about.

Genius de Milo has been a lot of fun to write. I’m curious as to what you all will think. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

Now it’s a matter from getting this book from almost done to actually done.

Wish me luck.

 

Note: this blog originally appeared on the Crazy 8 Press Web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/10/20/in-the-writers-chair-taking-a-novel-from-almost-done-to-actually-done/

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