Whew, the first part is done. I was writing scene after scene until I couldn’t write anymore. The truth is, I was getting bored with the process to the complete darn story. There were two more stories screaming in my brain to be written. Then it happened. I reached the thirty thousand word count milestone, and I didn’t want to push for fifty thousand words.
I did what any novice writer would do at this point. I just stopped writing. For nearly two months, I did everything but finish my book. This couldn’t keep going as other stories wanted to be told and I couldn’t tell them until this one was finished. So one day, I opened my document and looked it over. I glanced over it, and nearly cried as I still didn’t know what to do with it.
Then I remembered something John Irving said in a lecture of his that I had attended. He said that he starts with the end of his story and works backward. That was it! That is what I needed to do, I decided. I knew how the story was going to end so I wrote the climactic ending. How refreshing! My first draft was done. Well, not really. It was, however, the beginning of the end.
With the help of the ending scene, I worked backward and filled in the story from the end scene and wrote what would happen before it. I continued this process until I was at the place where I left off at.
Joyfully, I can now say, the first draft of my second novel is now complete. The second part of writing a novel is at hand. What do I do next? Well since I wrote the story in scenes, I will start at the beginning and connect the scenes. I will make certain the story is cohesive on this second go-around of the story. Things that I will look for are areas where a character says something and I forgot to address it further in the book. I will check facts to see if the time period and location information is flowing properly. I can’t have the character start a conversation in the kitchen and not show that the end of the conversation happens in the bedroom, without mentioning that the characters moved.
The story will eventually have to go to my editor, but before I do that, I want to comb through it yet again to be certain each scene addresses the following in each scene in the book.
Set the stage = Where is the reader at and what does the reader see, hear, and smell.
Who is there = Place the character. What are they doing?
Point of view = Response of the character to what is happening or being heard.
Character growth = How does this scene show change and benefit of character to another or self?
When I have completed the aforementioned tasks with each scene of the story, it is here where I do one final sweep of the book. Do you know what I check on this sweep? You would think I would do this first, but the last thing I check is grammar. I want to know if the book story sounds good so I either read it out loud or use Microsoft Word macro called “speak” to read my words back to me.
Once the story has passed these sweeps, it then goes to my editors to check it for the very same things. I start the marketing process at this point in the book, even though I’ve already let my readers know a second book is in the works. When the editor notes are completed and the book is to my satisfaction, I then place the completed manuscript in a new project file in Scrivener and format it for publishing.
There is a lot to accomplish. It may even seem overwhelming. You can understand why I wanted so much to at least get the book completed. Fortunately, however, though there are a lot more steps, the largest part is done and the rest can be done within the next three weeks. That is the deadline I am giving to accomplish the editing process.
If you’re stuck at a point where you’re trying to get to the end of your book, I hope these words help you see that you can push through and get to the fun part of editing, marketing and watching the numbers climb of the people reading your work. The first draft can be an intimidating process. It must be completed, however in order to attain the thrill of the milestone where you will be able to send out those posts and text messages to your supporters that you have completed the first draft of your book..
Have you finished a first draft or a book? Share with me in the comments your process for getting to the end of it.