The end of my writing for Terminal Sequence (book 3 of The Gamma Sequence series) is allllmost here!
I’m very excited.
A few days ago, I looked at what I had written. It was about 70,000 words (plus some miscellaneous scenes that came to me here and there as possible stuff to use) and I’d made a few notes for myself about one or two short scenes I needed to add, but basically, I was almost to the finish line.
There were two things to remember during this process.
First, a friend once said, “Everything stalls at 80%”
That means when you are in the mushy middle or 3/4 of the way through the mushy middle, it seems like you are climbing a wall every day (or hitting a wall every day). The key to that is, KEEP GOING!
In my case, I not only had Christmas break from my daughter’s school, but we also had Christmas with a nine-year-old child, and all that requires. Elf on the shelf. Shopping. Parties, cookie baking, sleepovers with friends. Lots of people coming over for dinner, and us going to lots of other people’s houses for celebrations. Then New year’s (which was atypically low key), followed by a week-long vacation in Colorado’s very snowy Copper Mountain to play!
In the past, when we’ve gone on vacation to the beach, there were plenty of chunks of time that I could take where I could be alone and do some writing, so I took my computer with me to Copper Mountain.
However, my daughter wanted me to play Roblox with her on our iPads, and there was a lot of post-Christmas winding down that reeeeally needed to happen, so…
Couple that with the fact that I had a looming deadline (kinda) for the book, and I also have four Young Authors Clubs that are about to start back up, and there was plenty of urgency for me to complete the novel.
But I was struggling.
Time was hard to find, and the ideas I sketched out initially were good but were having trouble congealing.
I got a little bit of writing done on that vacation (hey, snow tubing and snowmobiling and ice skating take time, too!), but I jumped back into it full force when we returned.
And when I did, I looked at the 70,000 words I had written and said, “Good grief, this thing might be 80,000 or 90,000 words long before I get it done!” – And I’m not sure that’s a good thing. The pace is fast, don’t give me wrong, but there were a lot of loose ends that needed to tie up quickly in the outline I had laid out.
Which brings us to the second point.
By having an outline, and having an ending, I had a target to aim for.
Once I got close enough, I realized some of the things that I had initially planned to do were going to create a lot of extra stuff that might not be necessary to write at this point.
Without giving anything away, suffice it to say:
some of the things I needed to say or do, I had already done because I knew they needed to be done.
So I didn’t need to have big chunks of information at the end; I’d given it to the reader in bits and pieces over the prior 60,000 or 70,000 words. Outlining made me think about it, and then I was able to see little places to do it subtly.
That was kind of a big sigh of relief. Looking over my notes, I was able to delete almost half of the bullet points I thought I needed to address. They’d already been addressed.
When you have an ending, it doesn’t mean it’s the ending.
You’re allowed to change it if you come up with something better.
So as I got closer, I realized I wanted certain characters to play bigger roes in the story and not stay in their supporting role status; I wanted one or two people to die who I was really not liking (they were bad guys, so it’s okay) and I wanted two or three different storylines to alllll converge at the same time. That’s… not always easy to do. So even though I wanted that, and even though I had written that in the outline, actually making it happen wasn’t quite so easy. That was also like hitting a wall every day.
How’m I gonna do this?
But me being me, I figured it out. Usually, I climb on the treadmill to work out and just like Agatha Christie said, “The best ideas come to you while you are washing dishes,” well, mine come on the treadmill. I think it’s the same process. You are forcing yourself to get away from the writing devices like pen, paper, computer – and your mind is then freed to connect dots in a creative way that doesn’t happen when you’re staring at the dots trying to force them to connect.
I came up with a better ending.
And since I was tired, I did something I rarely do. I took a nap. Or I tried. As I was in that halfway state between awake and asleep, I imagined my story as a movie that I was watching, and I thought:
what would be something really neat to SEE at the finale?
Now, I’m not much for epilogues, but I do like to kind of sum up the story so we know that the bad guys get punished and the good guys are going to be okay. (It’s not my preferred way to go, but readers seem to like it.)
So really what I was talking about, what I was wrestling with, was the finale before that. The place where all the points converge and everything blows up (or whatever big finish is going to happen).
And as I watched the movie play out on the inside of my eyelids, I thought, I want this to happen, then this, then this, the this… THAT would be a great ending!
And I sat up.
I said, “Heck, why don’t I just write that?”
As I said, I got rid of a few scenes I probably didn’t need anyway, the new ending only required me to jump back in the story here and there to add a little bit.
Doesn’t get much better than that.
So this morning I spent about four hours hashing out what those new interactions are going to be. Looks like this sucker could still come in at about 10,000 more words then it was a week ago, rolling in at about 80,000 words. That’s okay. The pace is fast, and where the pace is not fast enough, I will trim it and cut it and hack it until it is fast. I can get wordy at times, but I know how to trim.
So what does that mean?
That means as I sit here today, I feel comfortable that 10,000 words from now, probably three days if I push it (and five days if I don’t push it), Terminal Sequence will be completed.
Then I’m going to:
- Let it sit for a week and not look at it at all
- Then I’ll read the whole thing with fresh eyes and tweak it
- I’ll send it to a proofreader to catch typos, and then
- Release it to the beta readers.
And that means everything will be back in time for its February 28 release date.
And I will be ready for another vacation.