This week I thought I’d update my family, friends and followers on where I’m up to in my manuscript, because I’ve just reached a major landmark and I’m proud to celebrate it!
In March this year I shared my progress – I’d second-drafted my manuscript up to the 86,000 word mark.
I was making solid progress when I hit a stumbling block. It wasn’t writer’s block, I wasn’t procrastinating (much) and I wasn’t grumbling and wishing it was done already: I’m loving what I’m doing.
No, instead, I was almost at the end when I realised one of my major plotlines was scheduled to resolve after the climactic event. I think I knew it already (surely I knew it already!) but had put off exactly how to resolve the problem.
I finally had to stop and face it. It was time to go backwards to go forwards.
So, I reverted to the ancient technology of pen and paper, stuck the story timeline up on my wall, and stared at it until I figured out the answer. Then I went back over the scenes again, picking out the old threads and writing in the new threads.
It was old technology when I started, but I prettied it up with doodles and colours to make it look more interesting
It took hours of time spread out over days and weeks – maybe three weeks in all, but I did it.
And that’s when I hit my major landmark – for only the second time in all my corrections, re-writing and adjusting, I REACHED THE END!
(spoiler alert: it’s not over yet)
If you knew how many times I’ve reached the beginning, or how many times I’ve reached almost any particular scene, you’d know why I’m so excited. It means I’m finished draft 5 (I know, I said above it was ‘second-drafted’ – I can’t count, see this explanation).
Of course, I was too stunned at first to take it in. I read over the ending and almost didn’t recognise it as my handiwork, having only ever seen it once. I deleted out the empty scene markers for the crappy ‘six months later’ stuff that was supposed to wrap things up, wrote in the last two lines of the book, and sat back and stared.
I didn’t know what to do next. Sure I’ve got lots of little adjustments to make – find a name for this character, write a tiny scene in for that character – should I move on to those? And somewhere in there are some bigger adjustments still hoping for their chance to be done.
But each one I came to was so small I skipped over it, looking for the big stuff. In the end, on the advice of the smartest man in the world (thanks babe!) I printed off the first Act and spent all of Wednesday reading it and marking it up. Turns out it’s never too early to read from hard copy.
Now I’ve finished Act 1, I’ll move on to Act 2 (just as soon as I’ve finished this blog).
And sure, there’s lots of changes I’ve marked up, but they’re comparatively easy – I have to chop out a chunk of character interaction that detracts from the story, and make another section clearer, there’s a big ‘show-don’t-tell’ mistake too – but there are huge sections with only tiny (edit-based) changes, and lots more pages with no mark-up at all.
And I still love the story!
Oh and those ‘perfect’ first 30 pages I was banging on about in those earlier posts? They copped the heaviest changes! So I’m super glad no-one had yet been allowed to read ‘just the first chapter’ because you’d so have the wrong ideas.
Thanks for your interest and your patience – not much longer before you get to be my test readers…