Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The End is Near...

...The End is HERE!

By Annette Dashofy

Yesterday afternoon at exactly 3:46PM, I typed every writer’s favorite two words on my manuscript page.

The. End.

I thought it would never get here.

This has been a work in progress for almost two years. Might as well round it off to two, since I still have lots of rewriting and revising to go. “The End” does not mean DONE. No one is popping out at me with a microphone saying, “Annette Dashofy, you’ve just finished your first draft. Now what are you going to do?”

Me: “I’m going to Disney World!”


I may take today off to celebrate. And to work on the article I owe Pennsylvania Magazine. Or I may jump right back in. I have a couple of slave driver/critique buddies who are demanding another chapter. Since they’re reading Chapters 17 and 18 (the final chapter is number 29—unless I split my very long Chapter 28 into two), I need to step back in time and whip the words I wrote months ago into something resembling readable shape.

Or maybe I’ll make the slave driver/critique buddies wait another day.

My plan is to print out the entire manuscript. Sit down with a notepad and pen. And sticky notes. Read the whole thing beginning to end and jot down comments along the way. I know I’ll find things that make me say “Oops! I forgot about that!” Changes will need to be made to create a cohesive story.

Then, I’ll need to rewrite the first few chapters. Completely rewrite. Some folks stress over their openings and never get to the end. I just say “I’ll figure that out later,” in my best Scarlett O’Hara manner. Tomorrow’s another day.

But now that I’ve typed “The End,” I need to start stressing and obsessing over my opening chapters. They need to be perfect. Or at least a lot closer to perfect than they are right now.

THEN, I’ll take my notes and go through the entire manuscript. I’ll fill in the holes and patch the gaps. I’ll delete scenes and add scenes as needed.

And then… I have a line-up of first readers. Some folks call them beta readers. Whatever the name, they get to read what I consider to be my SECOND draft.

That, my friends, is when I finally take a break. I’ll sit back and work on something else until I receive their comments, suggestions, and feedback. At that point, I’ll dive into the third draft.

At least, that’s the plan.

For now, though, I’m simply celebrating a milestone. The completion of the shitty first draft.

The End


PatRemick said...

You've now surpassed most of the people in America who say they want to write a book, but either never start or never finish.
That's huge!

Annette said...

Thanks, Pat. It's not like this is my first time completing a book. But it's always gratifying, especially since this one took longer to write and more research than my others.

Joyce said...


I like to compare finishing a book to the birth of a baby. IMO, babies are easier.

If you need another first reader, count me in.

Annette said...

Thanks, Joyce. I'll take you up on that offer. But I still have a lot of work to do before I'm ready for my first readers to see it. Stay tuned.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I know it's a great feeling to type those words. And it never stops. The other day I happened to walk into one of my favorite coffee shops and I saw a friend and fellow St. Louis author Eileen Dreyer/Kathryn Korbel. She didn't see me, but I watched as she tapped the keyboard a few times, threw her hands in the air with a huge smile and slapped the lid of her laptop down.

After I finished ordering I walked over to her and she explained that she had just typed "The End" on her latest romance.

It never goes away.

Now, if I might make a suggestion... I know it's really hard, but I think it's totally worthwhile. Shove your manuscript in the drawer for about a month and work on something else.

Yep. Don't read it, don't think about it, don't talk about it. After a month go back and read it with fresh eyes and an unbiased brain. You might be surprised what jumps out at you. Right now you're too close to it.

That's just my humble opinion.

Annette said...

Will, excellent advice. But I'm not quite ready to step away just yet. I have a couple of things I want to fix right now while I'm thinking of them. But, yes, there will come a point where I'll stick it in the drawer and ignore it for a few weeks. It's amazing the stuff you see after a break like that.

Lee Lofland said...

Will - The last time I saw Eileen she had my sick laptop under her arm rushing to find a computer tech to fix it, on a Saturday in St. Louis. I was setting up to give a presentation when it conked out. Well, she found someone to fix the computer and the show went on without any further difficulties. She's my hero...One of them, anyway. I have many.

Joyce said...

Hey Will, did you watch the hockey game last night? Heh. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Annette! Can't even begin to describe how thrilled I am for you!


Donnell said...

Annette, and it is a milestone. And you know what? The fact it took you two years is a good thing. The quality in this book shows, and when you print it out, mark it up for cohesiveness.... It adds the WOW factor. You also mentioned something else, and if you're a writer reading Working Stiff Blog, I hope you'll pay close attention to what Annette says.... The First Chapter is not your book... and it may chance dramatically by the time you reach THE End. Have fun with your writing and get that puppy done.

Kind of like Annette ;)

Now... Congratulations are over. Where's 17?

Kathy Otten said...

Congratulations Annette! Glad you were disciplined enough to leave the beginning as is an work through to the end. Good luck with your revisions. :)

Anonymous said...



Annette said...

Thanks, everyone. And, Donnell, I'll get 17 to you in a bit. Hopefully before noon...just to get you off my back! Sheesh! LOL.

Jennie Bentley said...

Congratulations, sweetie. Yeah, I'm like you: I finish, then go back over the manuscript to add in the stuff I didn't go back to add in as I was writing, and THEN I take a break and send the manuscript to other people. Will is right, taking a few weeks' break is essential, but writing THE END doesn't mean that my first draft is finished, unfortunately; I've got sticky notes and papers all over my desk reminding me that I need to place this clue and that hint back in chapter 8 or 12. Only after those things are done do I have a complete first draft. I'm happy you're almost there!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Lee, Eileen is a go getter.

Annette, are you TRYING to hurt me? Hard to play hockey in a half-buried golfball.

Annette said...

Hey, Will, don't blame me! That was Joyce who made the hockey comment. I have no idea what either of you are talking about!

Joyce said...

Will, I'm pretty sure the Blues won't play any better in our new arena.

Annette, the Pens beat the Blues last night 5-1 and I just wanted to rub it in a little.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Actually, only one team played last night. The other team never showed up.

Sorry Annette, I thought it was out of character for you to be evil and vindictive.

: )

Joyce said...

But not for me! :-)

Patg said...

Getting to the END is the best feeling, even if its what Nora Roberts calls the vomit part. Why is going back and rewriting the more interesting part? Don't know, but it does drag people back at times when they shouldn't be doing it. Guilty party writing this!
Good luck, Will is right, give it some time to 'ferment'.
Do they do things in hockey with sticks like in golf?

Jade Blackwater said...

Nice job Annette - it's great to take a work to completion. Congratulations, and enjoy the revisions ahead!


Sherry said...

Wonderful, Annette! As one of your crazy critique partners, I'm thrilled. I can't wait to get to that part of my book.

Cheryl Elaine Williams said...

Good going, Annette! It's been a long journey but a fulfilling one too for you. Best, Cheryl

Maureen said...

Congrats Annette! What an awesome feeling :)

babs m said...

Congrats! Getting it out is the first part, but not the best. A true accomplishment.