All That’s Left is the Denouement

I have an almost-presentable, all-in-the-right-order, *almost* every scene actually written, second draft of my book. All that’s left is the denouement. I mean that literally. I still have to write the denouement.

This really ought to be a thing: Duck face selfies with a manuscript.

This really ought to be a thing: Duck face selfies with a manuscript.

Obviously, it’s not even near finished. For one thing, the denouement never even had a first draft. So it has to have a first draft before it can have a second. The denouement does have a fabulously impressive array of backstage material to support it though:

Someone came in a few minutes later and said this looked like a construction timeline. It IS a construction timeline.

Someone came in a few minutes later and said this looked like a construction timeline. It IS a construction timeline.

Plus: Character sheets, character notes, an incredibly confusing scrawl of handwritten notes on nearly every page of the second draft, typed notes in the margins thanks to Word’s built-in functionality, and even a few words written in ink on the very last page of the manuscript with incredibly helpful directions like: “Show Jed with Other Characters” and “What will Nat do now?” and “Are the refugees settling in?”


Once the denouement’s written, the first round of proper edits begins.

Then beta readers.

Then revisions based on betas.

Then more editing.

More proofing.

Then subbing to agents.

And somewhere in there I’m supposed to “step away from the vehicle,” apparently, for … a year? Three months.

Yeah, right.



8 thoughts on “All That’s Left is the Denouement

  1. Nice work! I’d still count the first draft denemount as part of the second draft, or it gets all confused eventually.

    Let me know if you would like another beta reader. At first I was thinking I’d be better suited to a second-round, but a lot of times I spot big ass overarching problems. In fact, that’s more often what I spot, since that’s less… subjective. It looks like you’re planning to do one round anyway. (I’d maybe save some fresh eyes for a second, if I were you.)

  2. Thanks, Jaimie. I would definitely be interested in your eyes on it. Although you’re scaring me with the “big ass overarching problems” thing because, if it’s that bad, I’m not sure I want to know. Except I do. So, you’re in. And thank you. Really.

    I guess it’s time to start thinking about my betas–maybe try to remember who has offered, and divide them into groups so I’ll have “fresh eyes” later when I need them again.

    I don’t really have any idea how many rounds I’m going to do. I think at some point I’ll just know I’m done and be done.

    And yeah, I’ll ultimately count the denouement as part of the same group of revisions as the rest. It’s just that I plan to kind of blarf it all out on the page like I did the first draft of everything else, and then go back and rearrange the entire denouement before doing another round on the rest… so by that point, everything will be on the same round.

    It’s all so confusing anyway. Not sure there’s any way around that.

    Also, I’m kind of sick of it. I’ve lost my passion for this particular story at the moment. It’s such an old old old and unoriginal story (or maybe it just seems that way after I’ve been living with it so closely for four months. Probably that). Kinda musty.

    I’m not sure I really care what happens to my characters after they f*ck everything up so royally anyway. F*ck em.

    Wow. That was way more hateful than I expected. Maybe I need another break after all.

    I’m terribly jealous of Lev for being able to just hand it over to his agent after the second round and ignore it for several months. And by “jealous” of course I mean that I know he’s earned that through hard experience and stick-to-it-ive-ness but that I’m still petty and jealous of him anyway.

    • Just don’t do like JK Rowling and vomit up the denoument with no edits. :P

      I start to hate stories I work on a lot. Don’t take it too seriously. And saying mean things about your characters can be very therapeutic, haha.

      Ugh, I feel like all my interactions today are so rote and stale. I’m half asleep. Still tired from the vacation. Ignore me.

      • Actually, this was a terrific comment. Thank you. Especially the bit about saying mean things about your characters. I feel kind of guilty, seeing as I’m the one who set them up in an impossible situation to begin with but REALLY if their timing had been just a TEENSY bit better, things might have turned out just fine for them. Probably not, though. They really were kind of dicks (on one side) and idiots (on the other).Jerks. Morons.

        Wow. That really does feel better. Thanks.

        Glad to hear I’m not alone in hating my story after a while. It’s a fine story, I’m sure. Just fine. I have just had enough of it.

        Go get some sleep. Rest. You have much to recover from.

  3. I don’t do the whole “step away” thing really. I like to do revisions and sculpting and whatnot while I’m still “in.” I do the “stepping away” while it’s being reviewed by other people, and end up incorporating their stuff and final editing after a lot of down time. I don’t like when some writers say “you have to do X” when writing styles and preferences are different.

    • I agree–instant turn-off when someone says “you have to” or “you should.” Glad to hear some people don’t step back. Maybe I won’t. I haven’t decided what will be best for me. I think I probably need a break. Start something new & come back later. I usually do best when I slow down, stop being in a hurry about things. I’m thinking of starting in on “The Summer I Met Mercy.” Or something. Maybe I’ll put a few sample beginnings up on the blog (I have dozens) and see what you guys want to hear more about, which story resonates strongest. Thanks for the feedback–it’s good to be reminded that not everyone needs the same process.

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