The End

What I learned from writing a story that needed major plot changes.

No, this is not the end of the blog. I am committed to continuing with this medium, committed to talking about writing and editing, committed to reaching out to readers, writers and those who are simply interested in the writing process.

So why “The End,” because I have FINALLY (and, yes, I am shouting) finished with The Achdus Club book four, “The Wedding Dance.” Now, technically I’m not finished, finished, as I know my editor will have plenty of things for me to work on once she’s edited it. I am, however, finished with my draft of the story and it’s been a longtime coming.

If you follow me on other social media outlets, you may know that I initially had set a goal for myself of finishing this story by August 1.

Well, here we are at December 21 and I just wrote “The End.”

What happened in those few months?

Honestly, I froze! I knew I had made a mistake in the draft and I couldn’t find a way out. As a journalist I always, always fact-check everything. My livelihood depends on my getting the facts right. And when it comes to my novels, I certainly do my due diligence, but sometimes I think well it’s fiction and it’ll make for a better story, so ….

Except in this case it wasn’t just a slight or minor adjustment it was a major plot point that didn’t work. How could I fix a story when I had a fundamental plot point wrong?

Sure I sat at my computer in those intervening months and weeks. I sat and I wrote. I tried to ignore the little voice in my head that begged me to go and finish the book. I tried to do other things … nothing worked.

Nothing worked other than me sitting down, and then one page at a time, one scene at a time going over the story and reworking the plot to reflect reality. It was not easy, it did not go as fast as the initial draft did, but here’s what I’ve found:

  1. My story is actually stronger than it initially was, and I think the characters show a bit more depth and understanding than they did originally. (I hope that’s how readers see it as well.)
  2. When I typed those last two words, “The End”, I felt an incredible rush of joy and accomplishment. I actually sat back in my chair and simply stared at the screen and those two words and smiled.
  3. I found that I can accomplish something that seemed insurmountable at times.
  4. I had lots and lots of typos that I had missed in previous edits because I was so close to the material and so focused on major issues that I missed the micro ones.

How did I do it?

  1. I focused on rewriting things line by line and sentence by sentence rather than the big picture. I found by fixing things as they came up, instead of trying to solve the whole problem at once I was much more effective in my work.
  2. I enjoyed a change of scenery. My local library has several rooms that are private workrooms that patrons can use. You need to reserve the room and you can only use it for one hour if other people are waiting. Usually these are used by tutors and students, business owners for small meetings, etc. These rooms are generally in heavy use during the day. However, in the mornings they are usually empty. If no one was waiting, my local librarians were nice enough to allow me to  stay as long as I needed. Most mornings that meant I had the room for about two hours of completely uninterrupted writing time. Having this set, dedicated time to work over the last few weeks was a huge push forward in my work.

I am grateful that my publisher hadn’t given me a hard deadline; the Aug. 1 deadline was my own self-imposed deadline. As a writer who absolutely loves deadlines, I realize this book wouldn’t be as strong and the last paragraph not nearly as impactful if I hadn’t had the time to really go back and make it all work out.

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