Friday, May 30, 2014

That Awesome Moment When You Finish Your Manuscript



The other day I let out a big sigh. After 13 months of constant writing and editing; after multiple revisions and three drafts; after transferring ideas from my creative mind into 98,000 words on my computer screen; and after many hours of wondering whether anything would ever come out of my efforts; I realized that I had actually and most definitely completed the manuscript of my next novel.

What a high! What a sense of accomplishment. What a proud moment, such an awesome moment.

And then, reality set in. What if what I had written was no good? What if the plot didn't make sense? What if the characters were unbelievable?

I couldn't let my achievement go to my head. From the pinnacle of my literary success, I nose-dived into uncertainty and self doubt. What would others think of my book?



When I started my current writing project in April last year, just three months after the publication of Valley of Thracians, I didn't have an outline or a clear indication about the ending of my new book. The only thing certain in my mind was the starting point, a very real event that I couldn't stop thinking about. Next to develop in my head were two very strong main characters, a man and a woman. I began to imagine how they would interact and what they would say to each other.

I continued to write at my regular pace of one hour a day (and I've previously described how I am able to add that essential extra hour onto my already very busy schedule). Day after day, week after week, the plot developed, making more sense all the time. Things fell into place; my characters started to become real.

Months passed and I finally reached what I thought, at the time, was an exciting and fitting conclusion to the story. My faithful alpha-reader (in other words, my wife) was eager to read what I had written, but the manuscript wasn't quite perfect in my mind. I didn't want to give it to her until I could ensure that my words were conveying my vision for the story.


So, it was back to the book. Now I was editing, a process I enjoy much more than writing. Every correction or addition I made improved the original draft of my ideas. As I worked, the plot structure became more logical, more suitable, more engaging. But, I realized that the ending of my novel was all wrong. I needed something stronger, some way to tie everything together more conclusively.

My mind soaked up ideas like a sponge, and many of them were added to the story. Research into some of the themes gave me new directions, better ways to proceed. And then, in a pivotal moment of inspiration, I envisioned an alternative ending and realized it was the one I had secretly desired all along.

I finished the second draft of my book and was eager to hear what my wife thought of it. But, wait! There were a few small things I first needed to fix. I couldn't show her an unfinished, imperfect product. A quick re-reading of the manuscript showed me that certain scenes demanded revisions. I went through everything from the beginning a third time. Better sentence structure. Improved dialogue. Additional suspense. It came together!

Awesome! But not yet complete.


At this moment, the third draft of my new novel is being read not only by my wife, but by a number of volunteer beta-readers as well. I know that what I've written is not perfect. I know there are things to fix, mistakes to correct. I am eager to get feedback from my readers and begin tackling the fourth draft.

What will readers think of what I wrote? I await their reports with bated breath, unable to concentrate on new writing projects. The awesomeness of what I've accomplished is still sinking in, but I know there's a lot of work ahead.




Related Articles:

How I Found Time to Write in My Busy Schedule

Why I Prefer Editing a Novel to Writing One

How I Found My Editor

24 comments:

  1. Congratulations. I know exactly how you feel. There is no satisfaction greater than knowing you have persevered to the end. And the excitement you feel holding in your hand that first proof copy of your book is unequaled by most other things in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sharon! There's still a lot of work ahead, but the satisfaction I feel now will help push me forward.

      Delete
  2. Congratulations! Writing "The End" is exciting, and a great accomplishment. Best of luck to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Evelyn! I didn't actually write "The End" = instead I wrote " ###" - but still, the end of the manuscript (the third draft actually) = quite an achievement!

      Delete
  3. Congrats to you. I do so envy writers of novels. I just don't have the attention span, so I stick to the short story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Marilyn! Good luck with your short stories.

      Delete
  4. Congrats Ellis - I know the feeling. Hope the beta reads go well!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Way to go, Ellis! It's a beautiful feeling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Barbara! It's indeed a beautiful feeling, but there's more work to be done.

      Delete
  6. That's fantastic, Ellis! Congratulations on getting to the very rewarding "# # #." Looking forward to seeing more!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am glad to read your story.
    I needed such motivation and courage to continue writing my second novel/novella. I am like stuck, really stuck for months without writing, but learning that you write an hour a day, I think I will adopt that and keep trying until I am able to get to the # # # too.
    Congratulations and thanks for coming so far.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this article. I, too, feel a sense of accomplishment and relief when I'm done with the editing and have someone (usually my sister) read it over. Waiting to have my third novel edited professionally this time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations! You put the work in; I'm sure will pay off!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sometimes I think one should write The End-1

    ReplyDelete
  11. Congrats and best wishes...may it fly out into every nook and corner of the universe! !!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm just now starting out. Actually, I published my first 'children's' book about two years ago through Strategic Publishing. My other books are all self-published through Create Space and Kindle Direct. I've been having problems with the formatting of my e-books and am hoping I can rectify the content before too many people see it, simply because I don't want to lose an audience before my work is reviewed too, too much, as I would hate to think that lousy formatting will be a repellant for the actually content of my stories. In the beginning, I find there are so many obstacles aside from writing and editing that need to be addressed in the world of writing, but once those hurdles have been cleared, I'm sure the rewards will be double. With that thought in mind, good luck to you, and me, and all of the other aspiring authors out there trying to gain recognition in a competitive world.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I feel exactly the same, Ellis! I'm about to publish my first book and cannot concentrate fully on the second, which I have started. I've lived with the first book for so long, so many drafts, rounds of editing and of course paranoia. What if everyone thinks it's rubbish? What if nobody buys it? What if aliens come and take away all my work? It's constant worry. But it seems it goes with the territory.
    Good luck and thanks for great posts!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great insight into your writing process. I could identify with much of that process. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love this! I know the feeling. You celebrate for a nanosecond and then realize, it is just the beginning!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I know that feeling and am once again in the early stages of revision, a long way to go, yet I sigh in content. :) Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Congratulations! I often wonder if readers truly appreciate how much work goes into EVERY single sentence. I'm a much more appreciative reader since I became a writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! And I now know that when people say 'I've written a book' what they actually mean is 'I've written a book six times.' So much work, but so rewarding.

      Delete