Friday, October 17, 2014

The End. Almost.

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Happy Friday, friends! This week has been a blur, what with the word war and our writing retreat and all. A few weeks back we talked about story endings and I thought I'd continue on in that thread since it's where I'm at.

Both Steph and Jill mentioned it on the blog and I've plastered it all over social media, but in case you happened to miss it, I FINISHED MY BOOK!

Well. Sort of. I mean, before we went to Tahoe I had drafted and edited everything but the climax and the denouement (which, by the way, isn't pronounced the way you think it is). But while we were away, I was able to finish it off. But the end isn't always the end. And with National Novel Writing Month fast approaching, I thought it'd be wise to mention that drafted novels are not finished novels.

They must be edited as brutally as you possibly can and they must be polished. Once I finished those final scenes, I made myself a Punch List. A To Do List. A These-Things-Must-Be-Done-Before-I-Send-It-To-My-Agent list. It looks a little like this.



Let me explain:

1. Timeline: I need to verify that I don't have any timeline issues. In other words, I need to make sure everyone can feasibly be where I need them to be when I need them there. I added several scenes in the editing process and I need to double check all my characters whereabouts. I also check for bloopers at this stage. If a character's wearing blue flip flops in one paragraph, she probably shouldn't have orange ones on in the next. Unless that's a plot point, of course.

2. Notes Review: On my last pass through the manuscript, I made notes. I have two pages of questions I need to answer and those adjustments need to be made in the manuscript.

3. Chapter length and endings: I have a few long chapters and some may need to be broken up. At this stage, I also want to be sure my chapter endings are compelling. We all want readers to keep flipping pages and this is the place where that battle is won.

4. Formatting: There is a way manuscripts are supposed to be formatted and sometimes editors and agents have their own requirements. Don't get fancy here, friends. Play by the rules. I always make sure my baby looks bright and shiny and just as Holly (my agent) expects it to look.

5. Research Questions: I screwed this one up on my list up there, but before I can do my final read through, I must get some questions answered and I've recruited a few experts to help. A physician's assistant has offered to answer some questions for me and very soon I'll drop him a message. I also have a lovely friend who's had two heart transplants. TWO! We're going to have coffee and I'm going to take advantage of her experience and her knowledge on the subject. Might be my favorite task on this list of to-dos!

6. Final read through: While I call this my final read through, it's possible I'll read my manuscript once more. Depends entirely on step number 7.

7. Beta Readers: After I've done everything to this baby that I can possibly think to do, I'll send it off to my beta readers and I'll cross all my arms and legs and pray they love it. But, I'm also hoping they'll catch my mistakes and inconsistencies. And when they do, I'll have another opportunity to make changes before I . . .

SEND IT TO MY AGENT!

So, what do you think, friends? Did I miss anything important? Before you send your stories off to be read, what sort of things do you double check? Help a sister out!

29 comments:

  1. This is an awesome list and one I will be implementing when my first draft is finished. I usually do the same things before I query. I also check each scene in the book and examine it thoroughly to see if it even needs to be there. If it doesn't advance plot or characters, I cut it. Thanks for the list, Mrs. Dittemore!

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    1. YES! Absolutely. Each scene must be examined. Very good tip!

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  2. This list looks a lot like my list! I write very fast so I have to go back and do a lot of tweaking of scenes and adding. I also (especially in the first book of a series) have to go back and make sure I didn't change things like my characters hair or eye color. One thing I do when I go back is look at my descriptions. Are they too long or too short? Are they vivid? I guess this probably falls under reading through the manuscript, but I tend to focus on one or two things each time I read through a manuscript. One read through might only be looking at dialogue, the next on description, the next on plot, etc. It helps me not get too overwhelmed trying to edit everything at once!

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    1. It sounds like you edit in layers. We all do, to some extent, I think. And this is a very good way to catch bloopers.

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  3. So excited for you, Shan! Your list looks a lot like mine. Before I sent it off to my agent, I usually need to clean up the synopsis I wrote because the story will have changed.

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    1. Oh, yes. I'm always needing to fix my synopsis. And for some reason, I've always found it's more difficult to write a synopsis after you've finished the story... I'm still trying to get the one for my last novel nice and shiny.

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    2. Good call, Steph. I need to update my synopsis as well.

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  4. I'm on my first story ever, so I have never done anything like this. I will definitely use this list, though, as I am nearing The End. :)

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  5. I usually have to do a LOT of messing with the plot and adding things and getting rid of things in my major edits, then afterwards I have to do work with characters--"Hey, this character is really inconsistent." "Hey, this character was supposed to be important and never showed up again." "Hey, we were supposed to like her, but..."

    Then after all that I definitely have a ton of bloopers to change, and things like "Is the emotion good here?" "Is this setting okay?" "How's the description?" and of course my research stuff. Lastly I do more of the sentence fiddling, but honestly I kind of tend to lump that in with these other few things. :)

    Also, can I just say I'm really excited for your next book?! I'm really curious to see how different it is from the Angel Eyes trilogy... ;)

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    1. Oh yay! I'm so glad. It's very different from Angel Eyes, but I'll say this. Voice is voice. And though I've made every attempt to give my characters their own voice, mine is still very clear throughout this thing. I think you'll see me in it. But, hopefully, my characters will be the ones that shine.

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  6. I like your handwriting ;-) I'll have to write this list somewhere. I still have a few weeks till I start editing, but I could lose this blog post in all the rest.

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    1. Wait, no, a little over a month. I'm itching to open that document, I must edit! But I can't...

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    2. Hey thanks! I think you can use the little search bar at the top of the page to search for posts here. Maybe just search for The End when you're ready?

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  7. Most of the time I have to feel like a novel is complete. If I don't feel that way I know something isn't right.

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  8. I cannot figure out Microsoft Word. Did you take a class? If so where?

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    1. I didn't. But I've worked in it a long time. I used to be very knowledgeable too, but whenever Microsoft comes out with a new version, I can't ever find things. I bet there are online tutorials? Have you tried Youtube???

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  9. I wrote but when I was 12 I had to give it up because I had so much work to do. Now 6 years later, things are better. I have a little bit of free time, but not much. That little free time I have, I'm so tired- I just don't want to write-I can't think. I'm stuck. I'm feel muddled. What should I do?

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    1. Pray. Think (while you are working) of what you want your characters to do. Carry a notebook with you (if you can) and write down inspiration.

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    2. Don't give up! When you have free time try to write at leas forty words, or less. Try to write as much as possible.

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    3. It is perfectly acceptable to take breaks. We all go through ups and downs. Every single one of us have moments when we'd rather not sit in the chair and get it done. But, it's also possible that you just THINK you want to write. There are lots of things we CAN do, but don't get any joy from. You might need to do a little soul searching.

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    4. When I watch shows or read books that show heartache or bad things happening to a person and someone who loves that person is distressed, etc. I feel something grip me sometimes I feel I can't breathe. I feel I might burst. I have ideas but I can't seem to seem to make them work. I can't create foreshadowing or dialogue or scenes or anything. I have prayed. but I still feel so lost.

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    5. Like Jessica said, write a little at a time. You are coming off 6 years of no writing your not justs going to sit down and write a perfect novel out. Quite looking at all the teenage authors out there. You are you. You are who God created you to be. He has a plan for you, He gave you a talent. Don't destroy it. Tell Him how distressed you are. Give Him the burden, talk to Him. He is listening. Write when you can. Let Him do the rest. You might be published at 22 not 16. But that does not matter. Be who God created you to be and be happy for those teenage authors out there. Pick up your pen and WRITE!

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  10. What size font should I use on Microsoft Word for my writing?

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    1. Size 12 Times New Roman is what you should use. Hope that helps! :)

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  11. Love the list. Number 7 is the scariest one for me :b

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