- by Sam Hunter
I am in the last leg of a wip this week, and I’ve been working on this book for a while, so it’s time to finish it. The proposal, with 150 pages (which have already been revised) is on editors’ desks, and so I am hoping that this finished ms will have a home to go to, especially since the story for one of the secondaries is already crowding in my mind. With my Harlequin work, of course, I always sell on proposal, and that’s nice, because if they don’t want the book, I haven’t killed myself writing it. But writing my Blaze books is possible from proposal because I am very familiar with the line, and I am certain I can always finish a proposed book. However, when I’m writing something new, I always try to finish it.
While it might feel like a waste of time in some ways, I think there is huge psychological and craft benefit to finishing books. Psychologically, it reminds us we CAN finish, and how good finishing feels. When an idea is new, or a genre, etc there’s no better way to learn the rhythm and pacing of an entire book than finishing it. You can gleen some of it from reading, but you have to learn how YOU finish a new kind of book. It’s different for everyone, and it will be different when you try something new (IMO).
The downside to finishing mss before they sell is that you can end up with a string of rejections as long as your arm, or even a book that your agent doesn’t want at all, and now you have put all that time and energy into it — I have done this a few times, for sure. However, I prefer it to revising proposals until your eyes bleed and the thing still doesn’t sell — that’s frustrating.
No matter how awful some of my unsold mss are or that they will never see the light of day, it doesn’t matter. I think finishing them counted. And I can actually look back to them and see what I was doing that has changed and improved. Those books will never go anywhere, not Kindle, nowhere, because they really did suck, but that’s okay. They helped me learn as a writer, something that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t finished them. Maybe I could never have written the new one, which is working (IMO), if I hadn’t written those first. Maybe seeing a bad idea through to its end is as necessary as anything to learning how to make the good ideas work.
Do you work mostly on proposal or finished books? As I make those deals with the universe that we all know, as I wait for word on “this one,” and swear, if it’s rejected, it will go to Kindle and I won’t ever finish another book again before it sells, I’m not sure I could keep that promise. I am somewhat addicted to finishing. I like the feel of completing projects, and I like that once it’s done, something will come of it, one way or another.