Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Home Stretch



Photo by Jade, Morguefile.com
Isn’t it exciting to come into the home stretch of a work in progress? For me, this is when I am satisfied with the overall story, but I am questioning the smaller stuff. With my focus on the finish line, I give a last look at specific areas of my novel that might need a tweak or an adjustment. For example:

CHARACTERS Will readers care enough about the characters in my novel to keep reading from page one until the end? I hope the answer is yes, but I will often do a final review by concentrating on individual characters. This is a good way to be sure that each is unique and that actions are not predictable.

CONFLICT I often reread to be sure there is enough conflict and that it is balanced. Too much all at once can be overwhelming or ring false. Not enough can be ho-hum.

SCENES Does the setting come alive in a way that most benefits each scene? If not, what details can I add to make this happen? How many characters are in the scene and does this work? A crowd can be cumbersome. Also, does something change in each scene? Where is the crisis and the drama? Is every scene necessary to my plot? Are there too many similar scenes?

OVERALL MESSAGE Have I said what I intended? Or, has the message changed somewhere in the many drafts?

What do you focus on when you hit the home stretch of a project (other than finishing it)?

50 comments:

  1. Does it all make sense? That's my question at the final stretch of my first draft! LOL!

    Congratulations on getting to your final stretch! Yay! Take care
    x

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    1. Great question, Kitty! I must admit, though, that at times my first drafts lack the necessary amount of sense. : )

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  2. Final stretches are fun! I like to check for that conflict too (one of those things that doesn't come naturally for me) - I'm getting better at the others :)

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    1. I think the final stretches are fun, too, Jemi! It's nice to wind down after all the hard work of writing.

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  3. I'm working though the final final stages... picking up small threads that haven't been finished off. Words missing, slight changes to keep active rather than passive.
    Its exciting to finally get there!
    xx

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    1. Ah, checking to be sure the writing is active rather than passive is important, too!

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  4. My last read through showed me that my antagonist was all talk and no action. This last revision was all about amping up the antagonist. And then I went through focusing just on continuity issues. At one point my characters had Geometry before lunch and later on the order was reversed. Small fixes, like that.

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    1. But, I'm sure, great catches that have improved your novel! Thanks for the wonderful comment, Ruth!

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  5. Trying not to be so focused on just being done that I miss something really obvious!

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    1. It is easy to be distracted by the excitement of being done, isn't it? I find that putting the work-in-progress aside for a while helps with this.

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  6. I'm into the home stretch at the moment at I totally agree with you that it's a brilliant place to be.

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    1. Hurray, Lynda! Happy final tweaking, buffing, and polishing! : )

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  7. I'm always sad when I get to the home stretch. It means moving on and leaving my characters--unless I write a sequel. :D

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    1. That's an interesting way to think about finishing, Stina. It is sad to leave our characters, but hopefully others will enjoy them. : )

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  8. These are excellent and simple instructions on what to look for. Something I'm always in need of as revising and rewrites tend to overwhelm me.

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    1. It's true, Bish: Revising can be overwhelming. I try to take it step by step, one thing at a time.

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  9. When I'm nearing the end, I wonder if my climax is big enough and if enough has been resolved. It's a fine line.

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    1. Oh, I worry about that, too, Theresa. I agree that it's a fine line. Thanks for commenting!

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  10. That the reader ares about the characters. I'm always gratified when I find out I made someone cry. Who knew I was such mean person. lol

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    1. Ah, yes, making a reader cry shows that you've made the character real and someone to care about. Always good. ; )

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  11. Ack! You're bringing all the overwhelming pre-editing questions to the table. I try to take them one at a time.

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    1. Ack is right, Carol! I think about all the questions, but, like you, I try to focus on one at a time. Otherwise, double Ack!

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  12. My first ten pages are with an editor right now and suddenly I'm thinking of a multitude of points that I failed to ponder previously! ^_^ However, I did have a check list that I went over when I had completed my manuscript.

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    1. I wonder if a writer ever stops thinking about ways to improve her manuscript. I continue to think about improvements even as a novel goes to press! LOL.

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  13. When I finish a first draft, after breathing a sigh of relief, I'm most interested in seeing if I maintained the overall message. I want to make sure the plot carries through from point A. to point B. without too much deviation. Of course, I know there are many revisions to come so that all of the other items mentioned; characterization, tension, pacing etc. can all be worked out.

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    1. Great comment, Dave. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that revisions don't stop until that final deadline. However, as I commented before, sometimes it's hard (for me) to ever stop thinking about ways to improve a manuscript. Hmm, maybe that's a little scary. : )

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  14. I guess that's a writer's list of concerns after a project ends. It's hard to tell, too because by the time we're done with a story we're so close to it we can't see it as whole piece--at least I can't. I rely on my beta readers with their keen and incisive minds to point out what I've hit right on or missed.

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  15. Ah, yes, readers can be awesome for finding what we overlook. I also find that putting some time and space between myself and my manuscript helps me to find what I might have missed before the separation.

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  16. Hahaa--"other than finishing it." I know...there's a rush to just GET there. But I have to slow myself down. Because I hate redoing it later!!

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    1. Exactly, Carol. And I hate the thought of something not being addressed or fixed before i release the manuscript into the world.

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  17. Because I write spare, my revisions often involve adding sensory details and fleshing scenes out more.

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    1. Interesting, Shannon. I usually end up cutting copy, not adding it to my WIP. Every writer has her own style, right? ; )

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  18. Hi, Cynthia,

    It seems that the end of a manuscript is much harder than the beginning. Everything has to be tied up neatly and it does take a fair amount of time and a lot of concentration to get to the finish line.

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    1. So true, Joy. You make a great point about the need for concentration.

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  19. Hi Cynthia!

    Great post. Towards the ending of a project, there is always more to do.

    Nas

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    1. Thank you, Nas. Yes, I always have a lot to do at the end of a project. It's kind of ironic. ; )

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  20. I'm in the home stretch, too! And when I'm all but done, the last thing I'm focusing on is whether every little last adjustment is made. Like just a day or so ago, I realized that a character's half sister is the child of her dad, not her mom, and I've got her in a scene with the mom. Must fix!

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    1. I know about those kinds of adjustments, Marcia! : ) For me, too, these sorts of snags seem to turn up at the end of a project, after all the big issues have been resolved. Good luck with that fix.

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  21. I check to see if there are any inconsistencies and holes from the revision stage. Also, I usually have the action down but I look for the character growth.

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    1. Character growth is something I look at again, too, Medeia. Characters are a bit more clear after I've stepped away from them for a bit.

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  22. not there yet, but I am getting some revision done. Gosh. so much to take note of while one is revising!

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. Too true, Nutschell. The revisions seem endless at times. : )

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  23. For me I just worry about writing THE END and then go back and layer in all of those pieces. I do the bones first, but everyone has a different method, right?

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    1. Great comment, Christina! It's true that everyone has his or her own method of writing and revising, but I think we all enjoy seeing "The End." : )

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  24. After a rough draft, I have so much I need to add. That's my time for layering. After that, I obsess with the beginning and end.

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    1. I understand that, Theresa. My first drafts are frightening. I always have lots to add and rework and cut and . . . etc.

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  25. Hi Cynthia! hope you're doing well. Thanks for visiting my blog. always happy to see your words there.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  26. I usually divide my manuscript into twenty pages bundles and shuffle. Reading them out of order helps me catch things I might not otherwise.

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