Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Sixty Pages From The End
So here I am, about 60 pages out from finishing Violet Dawn. For me, the last two to three weeks of a book are always crazy. Basically working night and day. I’ve found with the last five books or so, I’ve fallen into a sort of weird pattern. First I’m writing, writing, trying to do extra pages a day. Then, along about here—60 pages or so from the end—I stop writing new stuff. Boom, just like that.
I never quite plan to do this, mind you. It’s just that my brain hits a lull. Well, that’s putting it mildly. More like a brick wall. Suddenly, I’m sick and tired of pushing pages every day, and I find myself wanting to do everything at the computer but write. E-mails, blog reading, googling, just plain messing. This would be fine and dandy if I didn’t have a deadline looming, but really—there ain’t no time to waste.
So I figure—okay, I’m tired of writing new pages, and I have to read through and edit everything I’ve done anyway. So I’ll just give myself a little break and turn to that editing now. Then I’ll catch back up with myself, and it’ll be a straight shot to writing the rest of the book.
Besides rationalizing, this is actually a very good plan. Fact is, it’s been a few months since I wrote those chapters at the beginning of the book. And as I prepare to go into the crisis/climax, I need a solid sense of how the whole book flows. Re-reading and editing at this point gives me that flow. Gives me impetus to write those critical last sequences.
And, truth be told, there’s another good reason. By this time in the book, I just know it’s the boringest thing ever written. It’s sure to kill my career, and the minute my editor reads the manuscript, Zondervan will never want to see my face again, much less contract with me. Ever. Then, by golly, by some miracle when I go back and read what I’ve written, I inevitably see it’s not quite as bad as I thought it was. Not quite.
Now here’s the ironic part. I start editing, telling myself it will be easier, because it’s not new writing. I suppose it is easier. Sort of. Except when it’s harder. Thing is, when I’m going through the whole book like that to see its flow, interruptions are a bad, bad thing. So I end up working all day—as in twelve to fifteen hours. That’s if I go to bed. There’s no “write your daily pages, Brandilyn, then you can kick back.” It’s just go, go, all day long. And maybe all night.
It takes me two to three days to go through the book in this way, depending upon how much life manages to interrupt me.
Why this amount of time, you ask? Basically, when I write, I get things the way I want them each day. That is, I don’t throw just any old words down, thinking I’ll actually make them sound half decent during some future edit. If I want to be metaphorical, I think up said metaphors that day. I try to characterize deeply day by day. Etc. Still, there’s nothing like fresh eyes to see things ya couldn’t see before. So when I start editing my so-called “the-way-I-want-it” book, I see all sorts of tightening and nuances that are needed.
I finished with that edit today. Now I’m back to where I left off—I gotta write the rest of the book. Except there was still one thing nagging at me, having to do with pacing. Pacing is important in any novel, but in suspense, by gum, you’d better not have many “down” chapters in a row. “Down” meaning less intense, let-’em-rest kind of pages. Out of necessity, I’ve developed a sort of innate sense about this pacing business. While writing my last manuscript, Web of Lies (you know, the spider book that releases next January), I came up with a nifty little system to check pacing. I’m using a variation of it this time around.
Tell you how it works tomorrow.