That glorious feeling of ending it all

The EndPerhaps you thought that when you typed ‘The End’ (if you do), you’d finished writing your novel. Well, sadly not. It’s like being pregnant and not realising you have a good twenty years ahead of you dealing with the result. Slightly less drastic with a book, but it’s still your creation, your baby, and it needs a lot more nurturing.

After drawing breath, catching up on emails and blinking at the real world from my writing bat cave, I do the first tidy-up on my manuscript. It’s not even the first self-edit described here which is best left for two or three weeks at least. No, it’s reading through to check for plot holes and obvious gulfs in continuity.

I send the draft to my Kindle and read it through without interruption (apart from comfort breaks, food and sleep). I jot down quick notes or chapter references and then motor on. This way, I get the flavour of the book and find out if it works as a completed story. Checking this after the first draft is fresh in my mind has saved me hours of wasted writing time because any large faults leap out and hit me between the eyes.

Next, I print it all out in 1.5 line space and set to remedying these bumpy bits. I find it much easier to tackle a physical page . With my latest book, working title INSURRECTIO, I’ve found places that need a linking scene, or a couple of lines of description. I visualise all the scenes in my head and need to remind myself that readers need me to write some words to show them where the characters are! The other danger with a book in a series – this is the fifth Roma Nova thriller and the second in the AURELIA cycle – is that not all readers will have read the previous ones. So this is the time to drip in little bits of backstory.

Once I’ve done this, I leave it alone for a while and let it mature. This waiting period also clears my mind of the intense thrall I’ve been in while writing this book. Only then is it on to wielding the red pen time…


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, is now out.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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