Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Last week I expressed a desire for snow. Someone, apparently, was listening, because we got over seven inches of the cold, wet stuff on Friday and Saturday. But I was right about my ragweed allergies; they have almost entirely vanished, thanks to the snowfall.

I’m coming down the home stretch and I can see the finish line right ahead – Go, Threadbare! I feels great to watch the end of a novel approach, almost as good as actually finishing it. There are, actually, a lot of great moments in writing. First, there’s getting the idea. It’s like picking up a pretty stone, one that, the more you look at it, the better it looks. Then there’s writing that opening scene. You write it and leave it alone for a day or two. When you come back and see it’s good, that’s another great moment. Then there’s the actual writing. There’s no great moment here, but there can be a whole lot of excitement and/or satisfaction. Watching a character come to life, showing some unexpected traits and sometimes taking the story in a new direction is interesting and exciting – although it can be not so good, if it really upsets the direction of the story as you plotted it. I won’t say you fall in love with the characters, but it’s kind of like that. You care about them, wish them well, think about them even when you’re not writing about them. If you’re writing a mystery, there may come a moment or two when you’re working on a plot twist, that you think about your reader, and how they’ll never see this one coming! Then there comes the moment when you realize that story is actually going to happen, that it’s a coherent, interesting, even exciting story and you are writing it very well. That’s a great moment. And then it’s done. The End. The great heaping, smoking pile of words is complete. You almost wish you smoked cigars, so you could sit back and look like a proud father. Instead you cook something special for dinner that night – or maybe even go out to dine, have a glass of wine, and smile, smile, smile. Of course, you let it sit for a week or longer, then go back in to read it and find it needs tweaking. But I’m not the only author who will tell you that tweaking is probably the most fun part of writing a novel. The story is there, all you’re doing is making it perfect.

I got an advance copy of Buttons and Bones the other day, and had another Great Moment: seeing the book as it will look in the bookstores and, if you’re prayers are answered, on people’s bookshelves. In this day of electronic writing, it may be the first time you’ve seen the book in print. There it is, your name, your title, your words. If you’re lucky, it’s got a great cover. (Buttons and Bones has a great cover. Look for it in your favorite bookstore December 7.)

Now all you have to do is, do it again.


Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I know what you mean, Monica. There's that moment when you realize your book will "gell" and you feel this weight lifted from you as it sort of takes on a life of its own.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I love your description of the process of writing and finishing a book Monica. I definitely identified with it. And seeing the actual book for the first time feels amazing. I have copies of ALASKAN WOLF, my Harlequin Nocturne that will be available in December. I also have covers for BEAGLEMANIA, the first in my new Pet Rescue Mystery series which will be published in March. Love 'em!

Julie said...

My weak point always seems to be that long slog through the middle, so when I can finally see the end in front of me, it's like rushing downhill on a bike--fast and easy. Love typing "The End" and as you say, having something special for dinner. Right now I'm struggling with storylines and plotting for a trilogy, and I envy you that "finished!" feeling.
Can't wait for Buttons & Bones, either!

Toby Speed said...

Thanks for this post, Monica. I just reached the end of my first murder mystery, and I can relate to many of those writing moments you talk about. I'm excited, sad, and even envious of my main character for experiencing what she did -- and for doing it so well! Appreciate your validating insights today.

Ellen said...

Bah. The only two rivals for "great moments" are the day the acceptance letter arrives, and the day the check arrives.

Betty Hechtman said...

Great description of the process. I'm glad you're happy with your cover. They are so important. I love the way they did the cover on the trade paperback compliation of your first three books. First you just see a bunch of yarn, but when you look closer there's a body.