The End of the Beginning

Yee-ha!  Finished “HA-HA-HA-HA” . . . well, the first draft anyway.  For me, this has been—wow—over a year in the making.  Time to celebrate?  Maybe.  A little.

WPwineIf you’ve finished your manuscript, congrats.  Not an easy feat (not unless you’re a prolific writer who can put something together in a wink and a blink).  So, what now?  Have a celebratory glass of wine or cup of tea?  Why not?  Go for it.  Give yourself a [well-deserved] pat on the back?  For sure—you deserve it, so give yourself two.  Take a breather?  Most definitely!

“The End” truly isn’t the end, not when it’s only the first draft.  After that, you have to begin on the revamping, the refining.  You want your manuscript to be submission perfect, so make certain your “product” is good enough to send out to publishers, agents (if you’re planning on pursuing the traditional publishing route), acquisition editors, and the like.

I’ve undoubtedly touched upon the following in past, but a review is always worthwhile—for you and me.

Take the aforementioned breather—a few days isn’t enough, truly, so aim for a few weeks, even a month or, better yet, two.  I know, this seems like a forever when you’re excited about your manuscript and want to get it out there.  But you must step away to view/review your work with objectivity.  You’ve been living with the story for some time and need fresh eyes to see what’s what (what works and what doesn’t): you can only do that when you’ve stepped away for a decent period of time.

Once that breather has breathed enough, pick up that manuscript and read it all the way through before proofing/editing.  Get a feel for how it flows, what makes sense, what stands out (as in amiss or incorrect, or makes you scratch your head).  Now that you’ve got an idea of what requires doing, fix the critical items first—scenes that don’t work, plot holes, character inconsistencies.  Once you’ve got those smoothed over, begin the edit.  Take your time.

Second edit done?  Edit more—or refine, as the case may be.  Once completed, get feedback/input.  Receiving it from family and friends is okay (but how objective are they really going to be?).  Aim for writing communities and groups and beta readers.  See what others have to say but take their advice with a grain of salt; it may make [a lot of] sense, it may not.  Give the feedback serious—and non-subjective thought—and apply as you deem fit.

If you don’t yet have a social-media/on-line presence, create one.  You want people to know about your book and you, the writer.  How about a blog?  Promote your book—and yourself—there.  Spark interest.

I digressed a bit, because social media and the like is a whole other kettle of fish (and I’ve posted about this before).  Really, the whole point about “The End” is that there’s a beginning . . . which leads to it being final, faultless/flawless, and fabulous.

With that, I’m off to take a few breaths . . . hmm, just how many are there in a month?

The End . . . of a New Beginning . . .

Just finished “Odd Woman Out”, the weekly-installment book on Wattpad.  Yay!  T’is truly the end, the concluding conclusion, the final farewell.

That got me thinking that a worthwhile venture might be a quick post on what to consider re a book’s ending.

Given the end should prove the apex—the highpoint—of your book/story, you want to close with a bang.  Depending on the genre, tension and excitement will vary.  In a romance, you’ll want the heroine and hero to argue, to detest each other, to bicker, and then to—awwwww—kiss and make up forever and ever.  In a mystery, you’ll need a body or five to impel the protagonist along a twisting trail to determine the demented killer, also known as Evil Villain.  Whatever the genre, though, events and incidents should propel the reader toward a grand finale.

A grand finale can be surprising, unusual, even quirky.  Engage readers’ imaginations.  Tease them if the story/plot warrants it.  What that grand finale shouldn’t be is ridiculous, laughable, or implausible.  And, if you’re writing a series, leave some things unsaid—entice your readers to want to pick up the next book.

If you’re writing for the first time, read books in your genre to get a feel for what works.  Research what makes for good endings.  A one-off/standalone may have your main character(s) change . . . grow up . . . mature . . . become informed.  A series can offer the same, but character growth and development could be extended into the next book(s).

Happy endings are wonderful.  I love them.  Life isn’t always that pleasant and things don’t continuously happen in our favor.  But it’s ni-ice to have things work out in a story.  It provides . . . yeah . . . satisfaction.

But, given your story, maybe things don’t end well.  Maybe the heroine drives off into the sunset, leaving the hero at the side of the road.  Or there’s a surprise (but not unbelievable) twist that has the protagonist doing something unexpected (but, again, not unbelievable).

You don’t have to provide a lot of action to build up to the climax, but you do have to keep your readers’ attention.  Provide for tension and/or friction; get readers involved emotionally.  They not only want to know—they need to know—what’s going to be revealed in the subsequent pages.

In “Odd Woman Out” (“OWO” as I fondly call it), Alex, the protagonist, returns to where she started, but she’s a little wiser, informed, mature.  The story follows her physical—mental/emotional—journey, where she’s learned some difficult, painful lessons . . . . as we all [hopefully] do. wptheend1a

That grand finale is about what’s transpired, been gleaned, and realized.  It’s not just “the end” . . . it’s a conclusion to [another] beginning.