How I Completed the Third Draft! Part 4: Denoue-blaaah
It's not a good sign if what you are writing bores you. Generally speaking, if you're bored, chances are your reader will be too. I mean, you should probably be the biggest fan of your work in some regards. I know I've talked a lot about the need to be self-critical so that you can be an effective self-editor and reviser, but at the same, if you can't get excited about your work, how will an audience or an editor?
Now, let me complete undercut and disregard those opening statements: as I tried to finish revising the third draft of my novel, I slipped into a literary doldrums, a windless void of "dear God, why isn't this done yet?" After several successful weeks of logging a TON of hours on my timesheet and blazing a trail of fun, exciting, powerful writing that would serve as my novel's climax, I was left with... the end. The denouement. The other side of the mountain. And I lost steam rapidly. Now, it's not as simple as my story was boring. The problem was three-fold. I was entering a less action-packed section, but it was time for the reader to get answers and find some resolution (and set them up for book 2). However, I was also fighting a section that was very disorganized, needed a lot of work and attention, a problem compounded by the changes I'd made throughout the third draft. On top of that, I was fighting personal fatigue. I'd been working on this draft for years and going non-stop at it for eight months.
How did I succeed? Slowly? Sorry, no great advice. I just kept trudging along. How do you get out of the doldrums? Well, it's been awhile since I read The Phantom Tollbooth, so to go with a slightly more adult explanation of the metaphor: when there's no wind, you fucking row. And that's what I did. At one point I cleared space on the living floor and laid the last four-ish chapters out in a spiraling circle around me, reading and marking them as I went, labelling each major event with coded post-it notes and translating that into an outline (which then became two outlines, one of what was and one of what would be [and one to rule them all!]). I even made-up little signs that said "plot-hole" and the like. Then I could start moving papers around and drawing arrows across sheets. I wrote out of my comfort zone, how's that for advice? CHEESY ANNOUNCER VOICE: In the doldrums? Trying to finish your novel but stuck in denoue-blah? Do something weird and different to mix it up, like surround yourself in your novel on the living room floor or go find an all-night diner, grab a booth and order onion rings. (I eventually added on a salad at about 1:30 in the morning because I was feeling unhealthy... and a little gassy. TMI?)
Whatever you do, don't stop. Momentum is a powerful force. Queue the Newton's first law references. However I did, I did it. And now, it's time to polish it up and send it out to be published. Look out world. No seriously, look out, there's a lot of random rocks and gamma rays flying around out there.
Me Eric. Me no published.