The last steps to crossing the finish line on completion of my first novel are just about done. This marathon ends with hopefully the best story parts saved, even expanded, and the weak parts expunged.
I know I’m a perfectionist. I like things organized, orderly, predictable, knowing where everything in my world can be found. But this new experience, writing a novel, meant taking assorted facts and using them as a loose framework to build a fictional story – something I’d never tried before, leaving me devoid of a comfortable history to fall back on. It’s been a challenge but now I’m more than ready to say “uncle” and “enough is enough.” But… how do I know when I am really, truly done?
This morning I read in the WSJ about an author so obsessed with research he drank raw buffalo blood from a fresh kill to enable him to write several sensory sentences in his current novel with more accuracy, description, and realism. Sounds like extreme dedication. The part of the story that most caught my attention was the statement that he “continued to manically revise the novel …even after (his editor) had sent out advance readers’ copies to book critics for review.” After dozens of rewrites, he calls the book “perfect” but then hedges his bets by adding it might be improved by someone else.
My own quest to improve my story involved many days reading and taking notes from reference books and writers’ magazines, hoping to add depth to my characters and give added insight into what makes them tick. Simply put, they needed to be more interesting, deeper people. After months of work embellishing characters, making my villain more vicious, my antagonist more assertive, my protagonist more determined, I hope my readers will like what they see. I think each scene is anchored in what each character needs. I know I have captured what I started out wanting to say. And I slowly realized my original ending needed to change if I was to stay true to my heroine’s motivations. My revised ending will keep my promise to show my readers what really motivates my heroine. So I think it’s a wrap. The plot thickens.