Home Stretch

How do you describe what it feels like to be in the home stretch of a book? To know that there are only about twenty or thirty pages to the end? You know where the story is, you know where it has to go, and you know what you need to write in order to get there. Of course, it's only the beginning of the end.

Once you finish the story itself, once that first draft is done--well, overall, it's a heady feeling. When you actually write those last words you automatically want to erase them. You can't be done. There's got to be more to be said. That's true. There is always more that you can say. The problem is knowing when the book is done. Sometimes there are stories that you just can't let go. Characters you love. You really want to stay with them, know more about them, follow them home after they're done riding away into the sunset.

Like I said the end of a book is actually only the beginning of the end. Once that draft is finished you have to go back and read the whole thing all the way through. Look for all the problems, the dropped characters (I think in the last scene I just finished writing I forgot all about poor little Jeric--I have to find that little guy), little inconsistencies. Did everyone's eye color stay the same? Did they travel in the right direction? Did you remember what season the characters were traveling through all the way through and write the appropriate scenes?

Then once I'm done going through it once, twice, a third time in addition to running multiple spellchecks you send it out to some test readers. Test readers who aren't afraid to wield the red pen. I'm a teacher so I'm a little old school when it comes to that. I'm a very firm believer of  the "Three before me" rule. I tell my students that before they turn any piece of writing into me it should have been edited at least three times. Once by them and two other times by other editors.

So, I have two chapters left. Then the hard part begins. Like I said, anyone want to be a test reader for the first book of my new fantasy trilogy?


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