Tuesday, February 07, 2006

End of Story

On Friday I finished my latest manuscript, tentatively titled Dangerous to Know, and sent it off to my agent. It sounds a straightforward process but that doesn’t really describe how I feel when I finish a book.

As I got closer to the end I became obsessed with finishing. I stole hours morning, noon and night to spend more time with my characters. I lived in their world. Even when I was walking the dog I was seeing nineteenth century London in front of me rather than twenty first century Oxfordshire. I felt compelled to finish and at the same time, anxious about what I would do once the book had gone. It was the same feeling I get when I’m reading a particularly enjoyable novel. I desperately want to find out what happens but at the same time I feel bereft when I read the final word.

I don’t suppose every author feels the same when they finish a book – if I’ve learned anything from being a writer it’s that different people write in different ways and there’s no right and wrong way of doing it. But I wandered round like a lost soul for several days after I had finished. I missed my characters. I worried about whether anyone would like the story.

So there’s only one solution. I treat myself to a few historical trips out and then... I start the next book!



Laura V said...

Well, congratulations on finishing! And hope you have lots of fun writing the next book.

Nicola said...

Thanks, Laura! My next book is set in Scotland and is inspired by the book "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's the first time I've written a Regency in the first person so it's very different and interesting. I know some other authors, Mandy for one, have written first person before. It would be good to have a discussion about the similarities and differences!


Melinda said...

Well done on finishing Nicola. I understand how you feel: I am half-way through my latest and with the book all mapped out in my head I can't wait to reach the end! I then have a few "lost soul" days before I do my final edit, by which time the next books is already forming and trying to get out.

Laura V said...

Nicola, if you haven't seen them, I thought you might be interested in some of these maps of Scotland (1560-1928) which the National Library of Scotland has put online: http://www.nls.uk/maps/

They've also got a collection of 'broadsides': 'Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen.' There are examples online, the 'online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides lets you see for yourself what 'the word on the street' was in Scotland between 1650 and 1910. Crime, politics, romance, emigration, humour, tragedy, royalty and superstitions - all these and more are here. http://www.nls.uk/broadsides

Given how much discussion there's been on here about women disguising themselves as men, I thought this one might be of interest. It's 'An account of the Extraordinary Life and Adventures of Catherine Wilson, an interesting young woman, about twenty years of age, daughter of respectable parents, near Perth, who assumed man's apparel at the age of fourteen, and hired herself to a drover, when she came to Edinburgh, and got into a respectable gentleman's family as a foot boy'. http://www.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/15929

I suppose some of the main differences with a first person narrator is that you can't be sure how reliable their impressions are, and you maybe don't get as much insight into the other characters (unless they have conversations in which they explain their motivation). So it could intensify the reader's relationship with the narrator, and make the reader more likely to identify with her/him.

Nicola said...

Fascinating, Laura! Thank you so much for posting the NLS information. I've copied down all the links so I can peruse at leisure.


Jan Jones said...

Oh Nicola, I ALWAYS feel that way. But, unlike you, I have to then go through so much editing that the characters and the story stay with me for months and months and months and ....