Sunday, March 30, 2014

Searching for the Elusive 'The End'

Have you ever reached the point where it feels like you've been working on a book forever and The End is no where in sight?

That's where I found myself yesterday morning. I'd hoped to have this manuscript finished--at least the first draft--two weeks ago. I planned to let it sit a week, then review/revise before sending it to my editor, April 7th. I have been writing like a madwoman, literally, until yesterday.

When I first started writing, I was a total pantser. I imagine most beginners are. As a newbie, I didn't know anything about plot points, or story arcs, or character growth. I just had a story I wanted to tell. But since that time, oh so  many years ago, I've attended classes, read tons of craft books and learned the art of writing.

Thus I became a plotter. Sort of. I map out my characters, their GMC, the plot points and any tidbits or quirks that feel relevant to the story. This change improved my efficiency, a big help since I work full time at The Job That Pays My Bills.

But this book refused to be plotted. For two, hair-pulling weeks I tried to fit what I knew of this story and these characters into my standard outline with no success. Looking back, I can see I was trying to hammer my round story into a square hole.

I finally gave up and started writing, and writing, and writing, until I wanted to lift my face to the heavens and cry "Will I ever reach The End?"

Which brings me to yesterday morning. I sat, hair still mussed from sleep, eyes gritty, computer in my lap. Page wise and word count told me I had to be close to The End. All my books tend to come in around 350 pages, 65,000 words. I was sitting at 265 pages, 57,000 words. I couldn't write another word without a clear sense of where I'd find The End.

So I reviewed what I'd written and found it wasn't Total Cr*#. I'm not the World's Worst Writer. I could finally see the full scope of the story and realized I only had five more chapters (two and a half now) to the glorious The End.

And I've learned yet another lesson. Nothing is set in stone. Pantser or plotter you think you may be, but some stories demand their own path.



Kurt Hampe said...

I do both free writing and outlining, but I've come to realize that they are both ways of figuring out the story. My free writing isn't finished product, it's an incredibly long and detailed outline--plus a bunch of stuff that sounded cool at the time but needs to be cut now that I know the story.

Lisa Tapp said...

I think that's where I am Kurt. Along with a lot of notes in red about edits that need to be made to earlier passages. Thanks for stopping by.

Colette Ballard said...

I'm so with you, Lisa. I've tried lots of configurations of both ways and inevitably i've come to the conclusion that the characters are the BOSS! :)
Congrats on finding an end in sight:)

Amber Hart said...

Agree. I don't plan. Like, AT ALL. But even in not planning, each book is its own. Luck on the "end", which is hopefully here by now!