The End is the Beginning
Snowed In at the Mayor's Mansion is DONE!
Snowed In (working title) is the second book in my upcoming Harlequin Desire series. "The End" is always cause for celebration, but I'm holding off on popping the champagne on this particular title. My work has just begun.
Two days ago I started reading from chapter 1 (which I practically rewrote) and was able to get as far as mid-chapter 4 yesterday. I knew it was "off" but I didn't know how to fix it. I couldn't know until I reached the end.
You bet. 😤
If writing has taught me only one thing, it's patience. In a world of insta-satisfaction, writing is one of prolonged periods of waiting, working, and wishing you had a crystal ball to see if writing this scene is a total waste of your time. Alas, the only magic in the world of writing is shooting out of your fingertips. Fingers on keys. Butt in chair. I learn by doing and that's something that's never changed. Every book is a new beast, a different process.
For the first time in this novel, I leaned on "TK" throughout my manuscript. (Thank you, Lauren Layne for giving me permission to do this.) TK is publisher speak for "to come" and I used it throughout Snowed In when I didn't want to stop my forward momentum to look up a name, make up a street, or spend time doing research. In the past, I didn't give myself the luxury of using TK because I was afraid I'd turn it in with those two "lazy" letters in my MS. Silly, right? All that momentum brought to a grinding halt and for what?
And if you're thinking I wanted to TK because I was drafting this book at a frantic, smoke-billowing pace, let me set that record straight.
It came S L O W L Y. 🐢
"Slow" is relative to every writer, so try not to compare your abilities with anyone else's, but for the sake of clarity I'll tell you that "slow" in my case meant some days I wrote under 500 words and most days barely hit 2,000. I like to write faster and furious-er, but I was also feeling a bit burned out from two back-to-back releases and launching a new website and coming off a 21-day wellness program which was so immersive it was hard to do much else!
Anyway, I never thought I'd see my 50,000 word count and guess what?
I haven't yet.
Yep. I stopped it short.
I'm what Stephen King calls a "putter-inner" and I tend to layer in words and detail after that messy first draft is complete. Since this book is a print book, I have less room to wiggle than I would for a book like Arm Candy that is digital and super flexible. Want to write it at 60k? You can. Want to add 10k more words? No problem.
So as I reread what I wrote, I am careful about peppering in scenes and dialog. I have to ask myself these three questions:
Is it imperative to the plot?
Is it important to the character development?
Is it liable to glaze over my readers' eyeballs?
As long as it gets a yes/yes/no to those three questions, I put it in.
The first draft is a beautiful thing, and one that I don't embrace like I did before I was published. Pre-publishing, I dove in and made a mess of things and that was A-OK with me. I didn't know what I didn't know--most of which was what I was doing "wrong" and so the process felt a lot like finger painting. (No, not that finger painting, but I love you for thinking of that reference.) Finger painting is a lot like a first draft. You can get really messy and the result can be really bad, but none of that matters because you had FUN.
If you're in the throes of pre-publishing, or if you're just starting out, here's some advice: LET GO OF THE IDEA OF THE PERFECT FIRST DRAFT. That's what edits are for! And you'll be reading (and rereading) this book more times than you care to count. Making good writing great is a process.