When you’re halfway through a draft or a major revision, it’s easy to recognize and delight in your novel’s strengths. It’s easy to imagine that you will—someday soon, tomorrow probably—correct every single flaw. But as you near the end of a draft, and your book remains imperfect, you might start to panic. You might make some bad choices. Here are four things to avoid.
GIVEAWAY: Emily is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).
Column by Emily Adrian, author of debut novel LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED
(June 2015, Dial/Penguin). Her novel was given a stared review and called
“Original and intriguing; a powerful debut.” by Kirkus Reviews. Emily Adrian
was born in 1989 in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. After graduating from
Portland State University, she moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she worked
as a receptionist while secretly writing books. Emily currently lives in Toronto
with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Hank. Connect with her on Twitter.
1. Don’t call it quits prematurely.
I have a habit of growing frustrated with my manuscript and deciding, abruptly, that the book is as good as it’s ever going to get. I’ve come all too close to turning in a typo-ridden document with my own furious comments—“WHAT IS THIS PARAGRAPH EVEN?”—hovering in the margins. Don’t do that. Chill. Ask yourself how much time you have to finish your book. Make a list of problems you can reasonably fix within that timeframe. Take a break.
2. Don’t Google yourself.
While taking your break, you may feel compelled to Google yourself. Particularly if your debut novel came out last month, or you just released some other sort of publication. Because maybe a kind librarian from Houston has been blogging about how brilliant you are, and maybe her praise is the fuel you require to finish your work.
Don’t. Best case scenario: someone in Houston thinks you’re a genius and you decide to Google yourself again in twenty minutes. Worst case scenario: you have three new one-star reviews on Goodreads.
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3. Don’t delete spasmodically.
When looking over your novel for the last time, try to avoid haphazardly deleting words and sentences that suddenly seem clunky and bad. Maybe they are clunky and bad, in which case, your editor will let you know. More likely, those details that only start to feel gratuitous as you near your project’s end are, in fact, totally necessary. When I’m finishing a draft, I find myself skimming lines that I know are powerful and focusing instead on the understated bits in between—which, out of context, are as jarring as potholes. But what’s really jarring is when an author has deleted all the small actions and observations that carry the reader from one crucial point to the next.
4. Don’t download your manuscript.
After submitting your book to your agent or editor, do not obsessively download your own attachment, fearing you accidentally changed the font to Wingdings and/or submitted an old college term paper in place of your novel. You didn’t. I promise.
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers’ Conferences:
- Oct. 28–30, 2016: Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference (Los Angeles, CA)
- Nov. 19, 2016: Las Vegas Writing Workshop (Las Vegas, NV)
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 25, 2017: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
- Feb. 26–March 3, 2017: Writers Winter Escape Cruise (conference/cruise departing Miami)
- March 25, 2017: Michigan Writers Conference (Detroit, MI)
- April 8, 2017: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- July 22, 2017: Tennessee Writers Workshop (Nashville, TN)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer’s Digest Conference (New York, NY)
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Agent Spotlight: Andy Kifer (Gernert Company) seeks Literary, Sci-Fi, Thrillers & Nonfiction.
- 5 Things To Look For In A Critique Partner.
- It Starts With A Good Book.
- How I Got My Literary Agent: Natalia Sylvester (Fiction).
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and writing a query letter.