Spring cleaning and finishing a novel

After I write “the end” on the last page of a manuscript and then send it off to my editor, it’s time to do a bit of spring-cleaning—specifically tossing out all my notes from the current book.

The third book of my Bluegrass Homecoming series, Nom de Plume, comes out in July (I hope). It seems as if it took a long time to write. Sorting through my notes, I found out it did. First of all, I saved a few emails from my editor where we brainstormed the story. These are first ideas, trying to figure out what happened to the main characters in the past—where they’ve been. The date? October 2015.

In my file folder, I found Internet research, plot worksheets and handwritten notes. I use them to help me figure out where the characters are going. Trouble is—I’m a pantser. I never know for sure.

Jane Friedman describes a pantser: “Pansters are writers who prefer to create by the seat of their pants. In other words, rather than outline their novel, they hop in their concept like it’s a car, letting it take them where it takes them, only seeing as far ahead as their headlights allow.”

Although I’d love to be able to create a detailed plot, my mind rebels. I will confuse myself more if I try to make an outline. The plotting worksheets help, but only so far. I’ll sketch out ideas, but they change as I write the story. It helps that I know the outcome of my novel. As a “romance,” it will have a happily-ever-after ending.

Friends are fond of asking me how long it takes to write a book. I never know what to say. For Nom de Plume it took nineteen months. But not really. In that time, I wrote Liz: The Montana McKenna’s, the Bluegrass Homecoming Prequel, self-published Secrets as part of the series, and revised and re-edited My Lord Raven for self-publication. Plus I work a day job.

Perspective is important, especially when I have the tendency to beat myself up about not finishing more books.

Spring-cleaning helps too—out with the old. Time to start fresh on another journey to the end of another book.

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