Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Novel is Never Really Finished

I recently completed writing the first draft of my mildly dystopian thriller "J159". I was excited to say the least, but the moment I finished, I immediately felt compelled to begin editing and rewrites. So off I trekked to Chapter 1 and waded through the words all over again.

A nip, a tuck, a little glue here and there. I unraveled the sections that seemed matted together like a pile of wire clothes hangers, and I emerged on the other side, with what felt like a wonderful story in excellent shape.

Then we go again...

Now I'm doing yet another pass, this time looking for typos and formatting errors. The type of things you overlook when concentrating on the finer points of the overall language, or inadvertently add back in when you "fix" a phrase. Much like when we all allow our electronic devices to install "updates". They claim they will fix bugs, but deep down, we all know that in fixing one, they will likely add at least two back in its place.

I'm currently proof reading Chapter 5, and will eventually make my way back out the other end of Chapter 15, but then what? Will this go on forever?

I've recently discovered with my oil paintings (yes, I do that too from time to time), that if I keep on refining the same painting until I am perfectly happy with it, then it will never be finished. I will never be truly happy with it until it is perfect, and a perfect painting simply doesn't exist. I'm slowly working my way around to the acceptance of the fact that no novel I ever write will be perfect either. The trick with writing (just like painting), is finding that balance that you can live with, and then happily moving on to the next project. Finding that balance is hard, but if I don't figure it out eventually, you'll never get to read the book.

So, for now I'll keep proof reading. Then I will release it to my beta readers to pick it apart. After a few more iterations, I may well be ready to let you see it.

Happy Reading.

1 comment:

  1. With things that can never be completely finished or absolutely perfect, I find the best place to stop is when you're proud of what you've accomplished and don't feel like you could improve it further - it's the best you can do at the moment :-)