THOSE TERRIBLE WORDS: “THE END”
January 20, 2013
Recently author Jade Kerrion asked me to do a guest blog for her on the craft of writing. This is what I sent her, musings about what happens after a writer types “THE END” on a manuscript.
First let me give you a sense of my writing regimen. In the last three years I have written five novels of sixty-thousand words or more, a 5,000 word single, a short story collection and a non-fiction how-to-write book (with Caleb Pirtle). I also write seven blogs per week for our site, Caleb and Linda Pirtle.
Presently I have three works in progress (WIPs). Of the WIPs, I am in the early stages of one, about half through another and on the home stretch of the third.
It’s the home stretch I want to talk about.
Books divide into three main parts: the beginning, middle and ending. In Part One, the author introduces the main characters, puts the action in gear and watches the story take off. Part Two fleshes out the plot and develops the tension. Part Three brings everything together, and people get their comeuppances.
For me, Part One is the hardest section to write and takes the longest. Part Two is a little easier. The main thing is to keep the story from sagging in the middle.
I live for Part Three. When I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I go into overdrive. The writing becomes almost automatic. The story has come into focus. I know most of what is left, give or take a twist or two. It is just a matter of getting the words on the page.
Then, I type those terrible words, “THE END,” and all the really hard stuff begins.
One of the toughest things for me after I complete a manuscript is to make myself go back through it word for word to see if I said what I wanted to say, to check transitions, to make myself read the book like a stranger to it.
Unfortunately, there is no substitute for this pain-staking process. Understand that I am not a fan of wholesale re-writing. A change here, a different word there can improve a book. However, I doubt that major revisions make most manuscripts stronger. If the patient is that sick, the author is in trouble.
I am talking about a process that precedes sending the book to an editor. I can make an editor’s job a lot easier by sending a manuscript to him or her that is as clean on the page and complete in substance as I can make it.
So, the next time you type “THE END,” push yourself away from your writing desk, have dinner with someone you love, even if it is your cat, and then sit down and get back to work.
My thanks to Jade for offering me the opportunity to blog on her site. Please check out her books on her Amazon author page by clicking here.
(Stephen Woodfin is an attorney and author of thrillers and suspense novels. Please visit him at his Amazon author page by clicking here.)