Monday, September 22, 2008

A Learning Process

Well, the last scene of The Deadlight Connection is written, which would be cause for celebration if I weren't so frantically combing through the manuscript, looking for errors and little turns of phrases that just don't quite sound right while keeping a nervous eye on the calendar. It doesn't help that I compressed the action into seven days, rather than eight, which means I'm also doing some date juggling. But the important point in all this is that the #@$% thing will be finished by its official deadline, even if it is six months late by my own deadline.

I've realized I write books in one of three ways: 1) I make reasonable revisions as I write, then finish the first draft and go back for a more substantive overhaul and cosmetic corrections;. 2) I write the first draft in a white heat, barely looking at what I've written until I reach the end; and 3) I make a series of massive, bloody overhauls long before I finish the manuscript, as well as less drastic but still substantive revisions, so that by the time I write the last chapter, all I need is to go back and do the final cleanup.

After having written upwards of fifteen books, you'd think I'd have an established work pattern, but I don't. Of the three approaches, I personally prefer #2, but that only seems to work when the book is working. I simply can't keep going when I realize there's a hideous problem (or two or three) in what I've already written.

Now that I'm (almost) finished with it, I find I'm surprisingly happy with this book. I think it's a fun read. The only thing that startles me is that it's LONG--which is one of the reasons (but only one of them) it took so long to write. You'd think after having written all these books I'd be better at judging a story's length.

All of which reminds me that while I know a great deal about this book-writing business, there is still much that I am learning.

6 comments:

Steve Malley said...

Congrats on finishing! I KNEW you'd do it!!

I know that feeling, that creeping dread as you try to write forward despite the nagging thoughts of all you need to change earlier on...

Charles Gramlich said...

Swords of Talera was the only one I've written by your number 2. Everything else has been stops and starts, go back, then forward again.

cs harris said...

Steve, I'm glad YOU knew I could do it, because I had serious doubts!

Charles, I've only done that twice-for Mermaids, and for the Trophy Wife book.

Barbara Martin said...

There is a sense of relief when a story is done, which you must be feeling at this point.

I tend to write without an outline, working on different sections of the story at any given time as inspiration hits. This poses problems later when I get those nagging feelings that something has been left out or needs to be changed.

Thanks for your posts about the ups and downs of writing. They have been of great assistance for me.

Vwriter said...

Yes, congratulations on completing the last scene! It's a great feeling, isn't it, even when it's painful.

And now that I've learned the three ways of writing, I'm going to put it to good use. Thanks.

liz fenwick said...

Congrats on finishing!

I work by no. 2 but it does mean the real work begins with the rewrite!