Progress report: I’m about to write the final chapter to the novel.
While I’m very excited to finally be able to call these major revisions finished, that doesn’t mean the novel is ready for public consumption. I still have to find a cover artist, decide on the cover art and make some minor changes I’ve decided upon before the thing can be uploaded anywhere.
And when I say minor changes, that’s exactly what I mean. I say that for my benefit more than yours, actually. Minor changes, Penny. Not major plot twists. Not new characters. Not entirely new scenes. Minor. Changes. Period.
There. Maybe I’ll listen to myself now that it’s down in writing and made public.
Yeah. Probably not.
But this illustrates the struggles every writer goes through, doesn’t it? We work and work and work on a project and still feel more work needs to be done. We want it perfect, don’t we? We don’t want our readers finding the flaws once the work is published. Well, guess what? Perfection is overrated.
To paraphrase da Vinci: A novel is never finished, only abandoned. And that’s what I’m going to do with this novel. Do the minor revisions and turn it loose on society. After the cover artist gets through with it, that is. However, one has to locate a cover artist first.
As to those minor revisions – how does one decide what revisions need to be done?
First off, you read the thing and make notes as you go along of what pops into your head. That doesn’t necessarily mean those notes will lead to changing anything. As I’ve completed the final chapters, I’ve made notes of what might need to be changed in the previous ones.
By the time I’ve reached that last quarter of the story, changes to the earlier scenes sometimes become necessary based on plot decisions made leading up to that final, climactic scene. Especially when my characters take off on their own, as they have done with the final climax scene for this novel. That one really didn’t go as planned but I do like what my characters did with it so I’m keeping it their way. (Don’t they always get their way?)
As I wrote those final scenes, ideas came to me that seem like good ones but would require another major rewrite.
For example, my hero is a shapeshifter but, as the story is currently written, he doesn’t discover this until about halfway through. In discussing that aspect of the story with a writing friend, she questioned his reaction to finding out so late that he has this ability. After that discussion, I toyed with the idea of changing things so that he’d grown up with shapeshifting as a big part of his life. I came to the conclusion that the idea would mean major revisions and I’m pretty much ready to move on so I decided to keep things as they were. If this novel becomes one in a series, I might use the idea for another character later on.
I have made what I thought were firm decisions that ended up not being quite as firm when it came time to actually writing the scene. My antagonist was supposed to survive the final climax, however, I’m not sure if he did or not. My characters have yet to let me in on that secret. Of course, if he didn’t survive, I’ll have to come up with some other antagonist if I want this to become a series. But that’s another blog post for another time.
Which brings me back to my opening statement. I am about to write that final chapter but before I do, I need to find out if I’ve left any plot holes behind. I’m sure I have and I would prefer to find them on my own rather than having a reader tell me about them in a negative review. To that end, I am now reading my own work from the beginning. Not an easy task since I already know what’s been written and my brain has this tendency to make my eyes see what was intended rather than what was actually written.
I’m sure I’m not alone in that malady. In fact, it’s one reason why I find it so hard to read as a reader and not a writer critiquing someone else’s work. I tend to mentally make corrections where I think corrections ought to be. Unless it’s something written in such a way that it completely captures my imagination. It’s then that I find reading enjoyable once again. It’s also a rather rare occurrence, even with the more well-known authors.
Still, I’m on the brink of publishing my first book.
Seeing that statement in writing brings up all kind of emotions inside me. Fear being the most prevalent. It’s scary to put yourself out there with something that’s been such a part of your life for such a long time. It truly is like sending a child out into the world. You hope for the best but in the end, what will happen will happen.
Even if my first novel tanks big time, I don’t plan to stop writing anytime soon. I’ll keep at it because, despite the whining about revisions, I enjoy creating these new characters and new worlds as well as the stories that revolve around them.
Letting my imagination run wild and free.
That is the joy of writing. At least, it is for me. It’s a dream I’ve had since childhood and one I’m holding onto as firmly as possible. Even if I see no success at it. Even if it becomes just a hobby. It is something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.