Wednesday, July 18

Sprinting (limping) to the Finish Line @JanaRichards_

My sprint to finish this book has felt more like a limp.
I’ve been working hard to finish my current work-in-progress, a contemporary romance I call TAKE A CHANCE ON ME. I’ve written it as a companion piece to my permafree book RESCUE ME, using some of the same characters, and I plan to give it away to anyone who signs up for my newsletter.

That’s the plan, but things haven’t gone so smoothly. This novel has given me fits and shaken my confidence in my writing. However, through sheer stubbornness I’m getting to the finish line, and soon I’ll be able to send it off to my editor; my goal is to get it to her by July 31. I won’t really know if the book works until I read her comments.

But even before that happens I think I’ve learned a couple of things during the writing of TAKE A CHANCE ON ME that I believe will help me with subsequent books:

- Writing this book confirmed my belief that I’m a plotter. Actually, it confirmed my need to plot. I need to understand what the plot is going to be before I start the writing process. I’m currently listening to the audio book “Four Nights with the Duke” by Eloisa James. The heroine, Mia, is a writer of popular novels, a sort of eighteenth century romance writer. Due to a lot of things going on in her life – the deaths of her father and brother, getting jilted at the altar, blackmailing a duke into marrying her – she’s understandably suffering from writer’s block. We see her struggling to figure out her characters’ motivations and actions. At one point, Mia says that after writing six previous books, she’s discovered that once she nailed her plot and knew where her story was going, the writing itself went very quickly. I couldn’t help thinking that was Eloisa James telling us how her writing process works. And I also couldn’t help thinking that’s my writing process, too, and I deviate from it at my peril. Which is what I did with this novel in an effort to write faster. Ha. So much for that idea.
Four Nights with the Duke
 - Along with understanding my plot, I also need to understand my characters. How do I know what they’re going to do in any given situation if I don’t know them inside and out? With this book, I didn’t fill out the character sketches and do the background work that I usually do. It meant I had to figure out backstory on the fly, which slowed down the writing. I did some work on their goals and motivation, but it wasn’t enough. At least not for me and the way I write.
These are lessons I thought I’d learned before, but I was trying something new. What I really learned is that for me, there’s no shortcuts. Needless to say, I’m going to do a lot more pre-writing on my next book.

Before I move on to something else, I still have to polish up TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, and like I said, it’s been a beast. But as one of my writing friends told me, when I finally wrestle that beast into submission it will be oh so sweet. Here’s hoping.

On that note, what’s something really difficult you’ve had to do? How did you feel once you accomplished your goal? Help! I need some motivation to get me going!


  1. Writing through the difficulties of the past few years has been...well, a beast. Something you said made me think I should--at this advanced time!--try truly plotting. Maybe it would ease mid- and end-of-book panic. Great post, Jana!

    1. Liz, doing some prewriting might help with facing the panic of a blank page. You'd have to try it to see. I know some writers pants their way through a book without any trouble, and in fact they can't work any other way. But that just won't work for me. I need a map! Details reveal themselves as I write, but I can't get to the details until do a lot of prewriting.

  2. I think the difficulties - no matter what the tasks - just make the reward of finishing sweeter. Good luck with your polishing!

    1. Very true, Kristina. I'm trying to keep that in mind as I go!

  3. I'm having an equally difficult time with my current WIP. I think I've figured out how to fix it, but man, it's going to take a lot of rewriting.

  4. I hate when that happens, Jennifer! I hate to say it, but ultimately the rewriting will likely make a better story. Good luck!