My Top Ten Tips on finishing your Novel or Smile for no reason day!

Smile for no reason day!

It’s Monday morning… normally I would be huffing and puffing about the week ahead and the long list of To Do’s that have been piling up over the weekend. However, this morning, I found that a fresh coffee and some music made all the difference.

What, do I hear? Monday morning mutterings and sighs – no one can be this chirpy on a Monday morning, write (intentional Freudian slip, just in case the coffee hasn’t done the trick yet)? So, I am not going to let my week kick off with a bout of depression and neither should you.

I will take this opportunity to update you on why the posts have been few and far between: I have been writing a book. One written just for me, as opposed to the ones ghost written for others. The central characters are a two cities and a man.

Sounds odd? Wait, there’s more.

The character develops as the cities regress. It is a tale of opposites. While the cities develop and move into the twenty first century, the character regresses – regression being a form of development in this case. The more complicated life becomes, the simpler the character tries to make it, jettisoning “baggage” along the way. Now I use “regress” quite loosely, I admit, just to get a point across so bear with me.

Ponder this for a minute, is technology allowing us to progress to by automating everything or are we getting lazy and losing sight of the important things?

The backdrop  to this regression is a voyage into the funny things we come across, of laughing at mistakes and laughing even harder at the rest of life. A merging of the cultures contained within the cities transforming them into something else and likewise within the man (accompanied by much mirth). I almost forgot to mention, it is a dark comedy. The darkness stems from laughter, you know, the wistful laugh. The light from the laugh that comes begins in the pit of your stomach and ends up as tears on your cheeks.

I have now broken the back of the novel and am well past seventy thousand words, or three quarters-ish of the way through. What has amazed me is the way some of the characters have managed to become their own people, with little or no direction from me. Have you ever felt that when you write? As if you are just watching the events unfold of their own accord, with you reduced to a mere medium to express your characters’ thoughts and antics – your fingers tapping out their existence as if by telepathy?

When will I finish I think I hear you say (well at least that is what I would like to hear you say)? A long time yet is the honest answer… months – several painful months, for now the hard part begins.

The process of finishing is arduous. Here’s what I still have to do and my top ten tips for finishing your book:

  1. Finish the writing of it. Think of the endless task of Sisyphus and the joy of being a parent for the first time. Now combine the two and see if you understand what I mean.
  2. Take a break and don’t look at it for a month! Let your thoughts percolate. After the rest, you will no doubt, feel the need to open it and get to work with renewed vigour.
  3. Print the whole thing out and feel the pride of having created something from an idea. Feel the words on the paper – they are all yours! By the same token, it helps when you reach the next stage.
  4. Edit mercilessly, slash, cut, chop if you have to, and then rewrite.
  5. Check the facts, e.g. If I have a new event on Easter Monday, what day will it be a month later? Boring, but these things have to be done…
  6. Polish the manuscript. Out with the adverbs and in with simpler language. Get to the point, make the reader turn the next page. Remember page turning is what it is all about. One at a time.
  7. Find a good editor and pay them to read it. Your Editor will be your saviour and in the process of saving your soul, give you the most grief. Grin and bear it. I could use a number of words of wisdom to demonstrate what I mean, however one word will suffice, patience.
  8. Take on board their comments and implement them. If they feel something is just not right with the characters’ development, then listen and change it. Having an Editor and not listening to them is like having a life and wasting it (cliché I know, but sometimes they must be used).
  9. Pay for a good designer who can make that cover stand out…We judge all things by them (even though we try our hardest not to) so get yours done right. No skimping here, like with your Editor.
  10. Open a bottle of champagne and press the button… and watch it go live… your sweat and tears, endless days and nights and finally it is here. The Prodigal Child, and hopefully, the first of many!

If you have any tips you want to share, feel free to drop me a line – I would be delighted to hear how you make Mondays better, or even something on writing!

Lastly, come on, it is only a Monday! It does have the potential to be a great day so let’s make it one…


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