The sense of euphoria lasted about 24 hours after the Northern half of Evelyn David typed those magic words. She claimed it was her turn since I'd typed them for Murder Off the Books.
What my family and friends all refer to as "The Book" is done. Our manuscript for Murder Takes the Cake is finished!
Now it's time for the nitty-gritty part of writing—self editing and formatting the manuscript.
We're in a dash to slash passive verbs, count the dots in ellipses, and conduct a head count of all our plot bunnies. We need to objectively examine each scene and decide if it's necessary. Does it add to the plot; provide an important clue or red herring; give depth to a character? Or, as we sometimes discover, is a scene just useless padding, words that increase the page count without offering any other added value.
We also need to prepare the manuscript in the right format. That means literally going through every sentence to be sure that we have doubled-spaced after each period, question mark, and exclamation point. Why not just use the search and replace function? Because sometimes a sentence is enclosed within quotation marks, so a double space after a period doesn't belong. As the Northern half often says, Oy!
This is not the fun part for me. This is like cleaning the kitchen after cooking and enjoying an elaborate feast. It has to be done, but it's not fun.
Both halves of Evelyn David have reread "The Book" from start to finish at least four times over the past couple of days. The Northern half's husband was the first to read the full draft. He gave it a thumbs-up and advised us on our hard liquor choices for the book. We needed an expensive malt whiskey for our plot. I didn't have a clue. Me? I'm a connoisseur of wine coolers. Smirnoff's Green Apple Bite is my alcoholic beverage of choice. For some reason I haven't been able to envision a scene where "Mac Sullivan," a retired D.C. police detective orders a Green Apple Bite.
We'll read "The Book" a dozen times more before we show it to a couple of eagle-eyed friends for proof-reading. Tonight, I'm hoping to get through about 5 chapters before giving my eyes a rest from the computer screen, then I'll pass the book (electronically) back to the New York half. We'll continue to work off of one copy now that we're in the home stretch.
As I told a group at the Will Rogers Public Library in Claremore, Oklahoma on Monday night, writing a book is like riding a bicycle. By the time you're coasting down the hill, enjoying two full minutes of the wind blowing your hair and reveling in your well-deserved sense of accomplishment, you forget the long days of pedaling up the slope. You forget the excruciating leg cramps, the painful blisters, the heat of the sun beating down on your head, the sharp rocks in your shoes, the multiple flat tires, and …. Well you get the idea.
Anyone for a bike ride?