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10 Questions To Get To The End


Romance writers get to play with plenty of fabulous words – for example, ‘I love you’, ‘I want you’, ‘You hurt me’, ‘Marry me’ and ‘I’m pregnant’, in all their various permutations. But the two words that fill me with a joyful satisfaction like no other are: ‘The End’.

The joyful satisfaction, however, is all about knowing exactly when you can let yourself type those two beautiful words. I'm actually quite superstitious about it, and can't seem to whack them down just because the first draft is finished.

That's because the frustrating truth is that my first draft never – as in never! – bears much resemblance to the version I ultimately send off to my editor. (Check out the examples I’ve included here of the start of my latest book, Escaping Mr Right – first draft, final draft!)

Between the first draft and the final draft comes a lot of re-reading and rewriting, cutting and polishing, checking it for ‘impact’ and playing with words – which I know I'm not alone in doing ad nauseam. Even when I insist I'm on my last read, if I do anything more than change an occasional word or neaten up some punctuation, I can't not read the manuscript all the way through again, just to make sure it all still hangs together.

I’m waxing lyrical about this just now because a week ago, I did in fact type ‘The End’ on my ninth story. And it seems to me that I’ve been announcing ‘final read’ on this one for the longest time, only to give it one more go.

So I wanted to share with you the 10 point checklist I use as I strive to reach The End.

The Checklist

  1. Is the story itself sound – is there not only a solid tale to tell, but one where a lot happens?

  2. Does the order of the scenes and the way the chapters flow allow the story to unfold naturally, with a little mystery sprinkled here and there to keep the reading experience exciting?

  3. Is the right character driving the story forward in each scene, and is it clear whose head we’re in?

  4. Are all the love words, all the fighting words, the sad and happy and sexy words, fresh and real, and does every single word mean something, even if it’s a character simply saying ‘Um…’?

  5. Has the story made me want to laugh, and cry, and throw something in frustration?

  6. Have I kept any repetition of distinctive words, action and dialogue to the bare minimum?

  7. Has all the extraneous description, the boring minutiae, the dull dialogue and gratuitous sex been excised?

  8. Have I caught all the spelling and punctuation mistakes? (This is an impossible quest, but at least I have to believe I've picked them all up)

  9. Have I started changing things, only to change them back to the way they were?

  10. Am I contemplating turning my romance into a crime novel and murdering my hero and heroine?

It’s not until I get to #9 and #10 that I know I’m really ready to get my hands off and send my manuscript out into the world to try its luck. And even if it doesn’t end up getting lucky out there, at least I can be proud of the fact that when I finally typed ‘The End’ and ushered it on its journey, it was wearing clean underwear and its best clothes, and was sporting a full face of make-up and a fabulous hairdo.

Meanwhile I’m in the lucky position of having my seventh book, Escaping Mr Right, out right now. And boy, oh boy, did I pore over this one – I had to, because I fell for the hero like a ton of bricks and wanted him to have the best story ever!

I’d love to know if there are any triggers for you, as either a reader or a writer, that make you wonder if a particular book could do with a little extra cooking time…

Sometimes Mr Right is Mr Wrong, and Mr Wrong is definitely Mr Right . . .

Television reporter Chloe Masters is a woman of cool control . . . except when Casanova rugby league player Nick Savage is around. Then cool control goes out the window. Her boyfriend, Marcus, is everything she ever wanted - but it's getting harder to deny her body's reaction to Nick.

Nick Savage has been head-over-heels since he first laid eyes on Chloe - just a moment too late to stop her connecting with his team mate, Marcus. But when the goalposts shift and he and Chloe are thrown together on a week away, Nick dares her to get physical in whatever way she wants - with a kiss, a punch or anything in between. And if Chloe claims to feel nothing, he'll leave her alone for good.

How can Chloe say no to a week of mindless passion with the man she hasn't been able to get out of her head?

Trouble is, a lot can go wrong or right) in a week . . .



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