On Finishing That Book

Anyone can write. At least I suspect that is what some people probably think. It’s true as far as it goes, and anyone can get published in today’s electronic age. Yet not everyone does write, and most of those who do, realize it can be time-consuming and difficult. Difficult doesn’t mean unenjoyable. Difficult means the authors who take it seriously — and most do — treat it like the craft it is. They are always learning, improving and not in a rush to get words out there. The toughest part of this process is the editing phase (at least I think so).

When do you stop editing? Stop worrying about every little recommendation, rule and comma placement you have been told about? First, let’s assume we know the difference between Storytelling and Writing. Then:

…take your best sentence or paragraph and use that as your standard. You know, that part that just pops. Every word is perfect. The flow. The content. Nothing is out of place. Compare everything else to those words and reshape until the standard is matched. This can be tough to do. During the writing, a lot gets thrown onto the paper. Now you have to really craft it like you are carving or sculpting. It is the editing process where people usually realize that writing is a skill. Good writing that is. The editing may take awhile, but you will know when each part is just right.

And a lot of writer’s don’t want to here this: The [delete] button can be your best friend:

…sometimes there is no saving a sentence or even a whole paragraph. Maybe a whole page. Remember that section you wrote that sounded so cool? You were trying to say something profound. There was some bit of great knowledge you had and needed to impart it on the reader. Chances are, it never sounded good. It never fit. Now, no reshaping is working. Erase it. Trust me, when you do it, you’ll feel better. Your story will be stronger and you’ll wonder why you wrote those horrible words to begin with.

For me there were different waypoints: When the book was ready to have its first reviewers, then some more beta readers, then an editor. Every pass through the manuscript found less to change. Finally, a point where any part that had been troubling me were gone. Then it was tweaks here and there: Did i use that word too much? Delete unnecessary words there. Should I add a detail here?

So how do you know you’re finished? If you’ve held to what I wrote above, and have committed to be honest with your work, once you’ve started fidgeting with things most readers probably will never notice, you’re done. Everyone isn’t going to like your book. That’s okay — as long as you have written with your voice and not to someone’s litmus test.

I can endlessly tinker when it comes to writing. I can always find something to change. That’s part of the reason Among the Shadows didn’t meet its July release. I have the second proof copy in hand, and it will be out in August. Exact date will be coming soon. Updated Contact & Connect page is up, and newsletter featuring content not found on this page will be rolled out shortly.

The veil has been on the verge of breaking for many years. Now it has.

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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