...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.
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.