Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Why A Book Is Like Fine Wine

Pink Heart Society columnist Jen Hayward is talking all about why books are like wine - two of our favourite things linked in a marvellous simile... Genius!
I just finished a book I really loved writing, but I had a heck of a time finding the right ending. My characters had dug their heels in, they were two incredibly stubborn people with a big issue between them and I wasn’t sure how to dig them out of the Big Black Moment.

It’s not a bad problem to have lots of conflict in a manuscript, but after two months of working on it I was too close to this book to see the forest for the trees.



This is where a story is like fine wine for me. I need to let a book ‘sit’ when I’m done. A week is a good amount of time. This is when my subconscious kicks into gear and I digest the book as a whole. The big picture perspective versus the close up shot.

Often I’ll give the book to a critique partner as I like that beta read before I send it to my editor. While she’s looking at it, my brain is percolating too.

Freeing my mind up to think about other things, plan new books, smell the roses I’ve missed while buried on deadline – this is how my brain sifts through my story. Have I left holes, have I left threads dangling, did I maximize a character’s conflict? It’s also when a theme often solidifies itself for me if it hasn't already done so. Once I know what my theme is, I can go back and make sure I’m making the most of it throughout the book.
 
I think of theme as the ‘spirit’ of my book. What message am I trying to tell? In my last book, Tempted By Her Billionaire Boss, it was my heroine’s humanity, how she became the hero’s conscience and helped save his soul that became the theme of the book.

In my recent story where I was struggling with the ending, reflecting on my theme when I was done – it was about partnership and trust and how this couple are stronger together rather than the sum of their parts – made me realize what the focus had to be for the ending. The lessons my couple had to learn.


Taking a break from a book also points out little nigglies you don’t see when you’re in the thick of things. A word you’ve decided is now your favourite and you must use over and over again. Awkward transitions. Inconsistencies.

I try to build that week of ‘rest’ into my writing schedule as much as I can because this inevitably results in a stronger manuscript being sent to my editor. And you don’t have to be lazy – plan your next book!

Sometimes if a deadline is tight and I don't have the luxury of time, you just have to finish and press send. But I’d rather send my editor the most perfect manuscript I can. 


Which means planning out my timeline so I have the buffer time. (Which also helps avoid deadline panic and less than my best writing).

So what happened with my tricky ending? I got it 75% there with the perspective of a week’s thought, then my editor helped me take it the rest of the way. 



I’m curious about you. Do you like to take some time away from a manuscript when you’re done? Or do you like to fire her off?

To find out more about Jennifer and her books, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter. Her latest book, The Magnate's Manifesto is available now.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for the insight Jennifer! Valuable as usual. And I can't wait for Tempted By Her Billionaire Boss. Sounds great!

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    1. thank you Shirley! So glad you dropped by. And I hope you enjoy Tempted By Her Billionaire Boss! I had such fun writing this story. x

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  2. Hi Jen. I can see that it's a great idea to take a break from your finished manuscript before you click send - it's just not a luxury I have ever managed to afford myself. :). Can't wait to read your latest story. I'll be scrutinising the ending to see which way you have gone with it, but I already know it will be great!

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    1. I hear you Andie! Sometimes I don't have time either. Sometimes it's the week my editor has it I realize what I need to change! So nice to have you here :)

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  3. Thanks for your illuminating post, Jen. I can so identify with the 'can't see the wood for the trees' syndrome. For me, a few nights sleep usually helps clear the way a bit but the flip side of that, of course, is the 'waking up at two a.m. with the solution flashing like a light bulb' syndrome! Really enjoyed the Magnate's Manifesto and looking forward to reading your next :) Melissa xx

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    1. Hi Melissa! Thanks for dropping by! Oh yes, nighttime light bulb moments! I know them well. I have a pad of paper and a pen beside the bed for that reason :) So glad you enjoyed Magnate's Manifesto! Thanks for letting me know. ;)

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  4. Thank you for the wondeful insight Jen. As an aspiriing writer I find this incredibly useful, a bit of a "peek behind the curtain" at your process. Your writing style is wonderful and you create charaters that feel so real. Please never stop writing. : )

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    1. Before anyone else points it out, yes, this aspiring writer makes typos from time to time. I'm only human!

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    2. Aww thank you so much! And sorry it took me so long to reply. You just put a big smile on my face :) So glad the blogs help.

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