Finish With A Bang

coverUsing my unreleased manuscript An Angel On Her Shoulder, I am showing you my techniques for reworking a story into a more readable, more enjoyable piece. It’s 45+ lessons in about 45 days. (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE.)

To view it best, bring up the two versions in different windows and view them side by side to see what was changed.

Then give me your thoughts in the comment section, where I’ve added a few other thoughts on storytelling.

Below is the final chapter of this story, followed by an explanation of my story writing/filing organization system.

 I KNOW you don’t want to learn about my filing system, but I’ll explain it and then ask some questions about the story, too.

But I’ll go over the filing stuff after the chapter analysis. It’ll help some of you, and maybe save you some money.

Here’s the conclusion of Angel


Chapter 45, “FINAL”

 

The next day, the storm had passed.

I looked out over the Atlanta skyline as Mallory and Sophie slept. 6am, as usual. It was nice to think that things would start getting back to normal now.

The skies were sunny and bright. Pastel colors beamed out from the puffy white clouds. It was a beautiful day. Heavenly, one might say.

I had decided about something, too. We were lucky. We were absolutely lucky.

There had been an angel on the doctor’s shoulder that day. There was one with her at the winery, and with us at the car fire. Maybe other times, too.

My daughter does have an angel on her shoulder. And I had come to feel that I knew who that angel was. Watching out for my daughter, and still watching out for me. Giving things a little nudge here and there. Or throwing an elbow. Giving me a dead battery at the right time . . . Maybe an angel had been helping me all along, I just didn’t see.

I was glad she would play a role in my daughter’s life after all. Like Father Frank said, why should the bad guys get to have all the fun?

At breakfast, I asked Tyree for a favor. An old friend, who was getting out of prison soon, would need some guidance in rebuilding a life for himself. A life that he wanted to be on a different path than the one he was on when he went to prison. Tyree was more than willing to head on up to Lima, Ohio, and start his next project.

Meanwhile, I had some driving to do myself. When the rental car showed up, we packed it with the few remaining items that hadn’t been ruined in the wreck or doused with gasoline.

That, and a few bags of goldfish crackers for the ride home.

It was another big van. I wondered if maybe Mallory was trying to tell me something.

On the long drive south, we talked and sang songs, and watched cartoons on the car’s DVD player until boredom and fatigue eventually put my wife and daughter to sleep again.

I was content. I knew that Dahlia would appreciate my gift of the relic cross, and the story that came with it. That would more than satisfy my debt with her, and maybe even rack up a little house credit—not that I planned on needing any. The cross was valuable before, but like all weapons, once it had seen battle, it had become even more precious. I felt the mambo would see that it went to good use.

That only left one person to thank.

I pulled out my cell phone and called Our Lady Of Mercy. Mrs. Clermont answered.

“May I speak with Father Frank, please?” I asked.

“Who?” Mrs. Clermont’s voice crackled with static as I drove. Maybe all the cell towers weren’t back up and running yet after the storm.

“Mrs. Clermont, may I speak with Father Frank, please? Is he in?”

“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have anyone here by that name.”

“I think we just have a bad connection from the storm, ma’am. I’m trying to reach Father Frank. Is he available? Or can I make an appointment with him?”

“No, I heard you sir. There’s no Father Frank here. Do you have the right number? This is Our Lady Of Mercy.”

“Mrs. Clermont, I just spoke with him a few days ago. Father Frank. He was doing confessions—”

“Sir, we have no Father Frank here.” Mrs. Clermont replied cooly. “In fact, we have nobody on our roster named Frank at all, first name or last. And I’ve worked here for ten years.”

I set the phone down, speechless, staring at the highway stretching in front of me.

Then I remembered.

Why should the bad guys get to have all the fun?

I almost drove off the road.

 

THE END


Original Chapter 45, An Angel On Her Shoulder

 

The next day, the storm had passed.

I looked out over the Atlanta skyline as Michele and Savvy slept. 6am, as usual. It was nice to think that things would start getting back to normal now.

The skies were sunny and bright. Pastel colors beamed out from the puffy white clouds. It was a beautiful day. Heavenly, one might say.

We were lucky. I had decided. We were absolutely lucky.

There had been an angel on the doctor’s shoulder that day. There was one with her at the winery, and with us at the car fire. Maybe other times, too.

My daughter does have an angel on her shoulder. And I had come to feel that I knew who that angel was. Watching out for my daughter; watching out for me still. Giving things a little nudge here and there. Or throwing an elbow. Giving me a dead battery at the right time… Maybe an angel had been helping me all along, I just didn’t see.

I was glad she would play a role in my daughter’s life after all. Like Father Frank said, why should the bad guys get to have all the fun?

Next door, Tyree had been asleep. At breakfast, I asked him for a favor. An old friend, who was getting out of prison soon, would be needing some guidance in rebuilding a life for himself. A life that he wanted to be on a different path than the one he was on when he went to prison.

Tyree was more than willing to head on up to Lima, Ohio, and start his next project.

Meanwhile, I had some driving to do myself. When the rental car showed up, we packed it with the few remaining items that hadn’t been ruined in the wreck or doused with gasoline.

That, and a few bags of goldfish crackers for the ride home.

It was another big van. I wondered if maybe Michele was trying to tell me something.

On the long drive south, we talked and sang songs, and watched cartoons on the car’s DVD player until boredom and fatigue eventually put my wife and daughter to sleep again.

I was content. I knew that Dahlia would appreciate my gift of the relic cross, and the story that came with it. That would more than satisfy my debt with her, and maybe even rack up a little house credit. Not that I planned on needing that. The cross was valuable before, but like all weapons, once it had seen battle, it had become even more precious. I felt the mambo would see that it went to good use.

That only left one person to thank.

I pulled out my cell phone and called Our Lady Of Mercy. Mrs Clermont answered.

“May I speak with Father Frank, please?” I asked politely.

“Who?” she asked. The phone crackled with a little static as I drove. Maybe all the cell towers weren’t back up and running yet after the storm.

“Mrs Clermont, may I speak with Father Frank, please? Is he in?”

“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have anyone here by that name.”

“I think we just have a bad connection from the storm, ma’am. I’m trying to reach Father Frank. Is he available? Or can I make an appointment with him?”

“No, I heard you sir. There’s no Father Frank here. Do you have the right number? This is Our Lady Of Mercy…”

“Mrs Clermont, I just spoke with him a few days ago. Father Frank. He was doing confessions…”

“Sir, we have no Father Frank here,” she replied. “In fact, we have nobody on our roster named Frank at all, first name or last. And I’ve worked here for ten years.”

I was speechless.

Then I remembered.

Why should the bad guys get to have all the fun?

I almost drove off the road.

 

THE END


ANALYSIS

First, did you ENJOY that ending?

Did you have FUN reading this story?

I love it. Parts of it are amazing. And who didn’t want to see Frank make a reappearance, at least kind of.

This ending sews everything up and ties it all together while sending our characters off into the sunset. Although here it’s a sunrise. Doesn’t matter. It’s my kind of ending.

By the way, feel free to make a comment about Frank. I know you want to.

Short and sweet, at only 600 or so words, this last chapter probably should be combined with the prior two chapters. We’ll see.

  • Chapter 43 was 1,103 words long,
  • Chapter 44 was 643 words long, and
  • Chapter 45 was 656 words long.

COMBINED, they’d be 2,402 – not bad after that 5k before it!

Drop in a row of asterisks between them and nobody would care it became one chapter that used to be three.

But there’s a reason to have it be 45, and it’s a silly one. 1945 was the year WWII ended. My final tip of the hat to the Killing Hitler reference.

Yeah, EVERYTHING in my stories means something.

(Wait until you get to The Water Castle. That one has hidden meaning everywhere.)

Okay, we finished well. We started a cover and we started a blurb. Soon we’ll be on to marketing – and I’ll need your help there!

How about I explain how to file your story chapters so you can arrange them easily when you start writing your nest idea.

Yawn.

No? Then skip down to the red section below.

I know filing is dull, but having now decided I have valuable storytelling knowledge to impart, I’m happy to show you my method of arranging and outlining it.

Organizing Your Story

Working with one long document as you build your story is a recipe to forget stuff, not be able to find it, and veer off your outline.

  1. Make an outline, and save it in its own file. (The way my computer files stuff, my outline has to be called AAA OUTLINE to come first in the file sort.)
  2. When you start writing, make a file for each chapter as you write them. All of these files go into a Folder named after the working title. (The way my computer files stuff, o1 comes after AAA, and I want my outline first, then my chapters.)
  3. Make a cast of characters file, and save it there, too. (To make my cast of characters last, I label it ZZZ Cast Of Characters.)

Each file is called by its chapter name and a few words about its content:

Angel 01 – the winery wreck

Angel 02 – the church festival

also, each file is saved with a the date it was written, saved under the new date every day if it takes more than one day to write that chapter.

So Angel 02 – the church festival gets the date of 02012017 tacked onto the end (day, month, year: 02 = February, 01 = the first, 2017 = the year)

and as it takes a second day to write,

Angel 02 – the church festival 02012017

becomes

Angel 02 – the church festival 02022017

At the end of each completed chapter or the end of each writing day, the entire folder is saved onto a thumb drive, and I save constantly throughout the chapter as I write.

IF anything were to happen, I’d never lose more than a few minutes of work, and if the computer eats my story, the backup has all but the latest day’s work. Yes, you can save to a cloud. This works for me. I keep control of it all right here. I also occasionally save to a backup hard drive.

If you get ideas, throw ’em in a file, one file per idea. That way you can see them when you open the folder, and they can be deleted after you take care of them. Same with loose ends and plot twists.

When you finish the story, create a WHOLE BOOK file and copy-paste each individual chapter file into the book. You have to format it with a table of contents and hyperlinks anyway, so why not? Drop the old chapter 2 file into a new folder called “used files into main,” as in, I used this file and now it’s in the main file, my book as compiled to date.

When you get ideas for covers, drop them into a “covers” folder. Any other stuff, create a “misc” folder for. And put all these folders into one BIG folder called your book’s title.

In my computer, it goes:

books folder

inside that is

published books folder and

unpublished books folder

under unpublished is a folder called

An Angel On Her Shoulder

– along with a few others I’m working on. Poggibonsi, The Water Castle, Breakfast With Spies, Wine and Die, and more. A separate folder for each story allows me to jump around as needed and keep track of everything.

If this seems confusing, it’s a free way to use what some systems charge for, and your computer does most of the work.

I just finished editing the book, showing you what changes I made along the way. I have saved it into the main file, backed it up onto a thumb drive and tonight it’ll go onto the external hard drive. For disaster management, I’ll send a copy to  my editor. too.

Then tomorrow I’ll start compiling the blog series into a how-to workbook, as an eBook and paperback. (What would you expect a tutorial like that to cost? I’m thinking $29.99, and the webinar that eventually comes from it will go for $49.99. What do you think? Where do you think I should price the workbook you just went through?)

There will be more. There always is.

Okay, some questions:

  • Were there any scenes of chapters you would recommend cutting out?
  • Any scenes that went on too long and you’d recommend trimming?
  • Any loose ends I missed?
  • Any lingering questions you have that I can answer? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Or Piece, whichever. 
  • Any thoughts on what the cover should look like?
  • Do you think this will be a helpful workbook as I’ve presented it here on the blog, if it were in paperback form this way and as an ebook?
  • What writing topics should I have covered that I didn’t? (Maybe I can add them.)

Put your answers in the comments section below or send me an email using the Contact Me button. 

THANK YOU for tagging along with me on this fun journey. I hope it was worthwhile.

Now it goes to beta readers, and while they have it I’ll try to take out some of my crutch words. (This post was written February 2, 2017, and I literally finished my edit of the MS an hour ago.) I’ll make some tweaks from the beta feedback, and then it goes to my editor. Barring any major problems, it’ll get released in late March.

I’ve enjoyed your comments immensely. You guys are the best.

Now:

head shot
your humble host

Let me have your comments. The next chapters will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15 (probably), so don’t dawdle!

You are readers, too. Your input will shape the final product. Be honest.

Share and reblog these! Your friends need to know this stuff, too.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

 

 

9 thoughts on “Finish With A Bang

  1. Your pricing sounds more than fair and reasonable. I do recall seeing a few spelling errors here and there however i am certain your Editor will catch those. Appreciate the reasoning behind the number of chapters., I do things like that with everything from the pricing of books (my Halloween haiku book is priced at $10.31) to the number of pages in a particular book. It appears that everything has come full circle. Perhaps another read through may prove different. Thank you for this experience. I am better reader and a better writer as a result. Looking forward to your launch party! Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan, I have enjoyed this journey immensely. From beginning to end it has been a roller coaster and I would love to see it be made into a film, with the right director and producer and cast of course. It’s got the right combination of scary, family, rescue, good fight, a discovery of character in it to make a great film. I watch a lot of horror and sci-fi movies. I am a reader and a movie watcher so I reckon that my voice counts for what I love to read and watch. You scored big time Dan, wishing every success and when it comes to marketing: count me in to help.
    I have also learned more about the craft of writing as well which is all good. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

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