So, what does a pantser like me do once they finished their first draft?
Well, after typing “The End” I bundle it up an yeet it at agents, naturally. Joking. I only yeet it at agents I have beef with. OK, still joking.
How does post-production look like?
Well, my first draft usually is the first version of the finished book. Sava had 70k in her first draft and got beefed to 96k in post because descriptions are just not a thing I do.
Horny WIP finished at 77k. It’s contemporary, so I hope I don’t have to add that much description.
Anyway, step one: letting the manuscript sleep. (I am SO bad at this and may skip it even.) At least 4 weeks of not touching it. I hope to forget a few things that I just know during that time and realise I forgot to put them on paper when I re-read.
The next step is soft edits. I already wrote the best version of the book I know how to. So at this point I just tweak small things. Put in some foreshadowing or weaving in things and characters that I came up with later.
I try to make notes about what needs to be done later while I write instead of going back and doing it right then. That way, I will remember later and it’s not disturbing my flow.
For Salma, this will be pointing out her autistic traits. I’m not going to make a big issue of it, but she’ll get her stimming and stuff. Not to mention that her LI gets her at first sight and helps her cope however he can.
Salma also needs some nice trauma. Not sure where to go with that except maybe undiagnosed autism in the real world. But CPs are part of post production and they do amazing work. (ILYSM 😭) This is where my manuscript goes after I edited out all mistakes I could find and put in all things I have to retroactively.
Then I sit on my hands and chew on my nails until the feedback rolls in.
Honestly, CPs are the best thing that can happen to a writer. I love mine with the ferocity of a million suns. They are willing to put in some work for quid in return and I am just so happy and grateful to know them. 🥺
Then I read the feedback, throw a few hissy fits and take some time to cool down again. I need time to digest feedback and hammer home the point that it is meant to help me and not an insult. (Note to self: feedback is really, really I helpful and in no way an insult.)
At this point a skill authors are not always told about becomes relevant: parsing the feedback. It is on ME to know who my target audience is and what my vision for the story is. On those grounds I have to decide whether feedback I get is helpful or not.
Ngl, it’s difficult in the beginning. What do I want?!? It’s also difficult when it comes form people you perceive to be further along/better with authoring than you are. Soul-searching commences and the horrible question of who I want to be as an author.
The realisation that who I want to be may not be (at all) what is sellable, doesn’t help. I cried so many times thinking about how my ideas and style and pace and voice are not, in combination, a thing that is likely to sell. 😭
Back to post-production. After realising what the vision of the manuscript is, I apply the feedback. I will always apply “descriptions needed here” feedback, because I know I don’t do descriptions. The rest I will compare with my vision for the character arc, the setting, the emotional oomph I want and apply accordingly.
Note: I take into account hints that things don’t work more than offered solutions. Things not working is usually on me. But then, so are the solution because it is my vision. If the suggestions align with my vision? All the better.
When all that is done, it is time for another editing pass. This is where I read my manuscript aloud to myself, even if I did that already for the soft edits. Reading out loud was The Horror™. I don’t like my voice. I really do not. But reading out loud makes me catch all the spelling mistakes and the bits where the prose doesn’t flow. Mind you, this is from my little nd perspective. My flow might be way off your flow. I LOVE my filler words because of the ensuing cadence. Priorities may differ.
After this I write my synopsis. Yes, this late. Maybe the synopsis-writing-demons possessed me before this, but usually they do not. So this is when I sit down and write the synopsis. I start by telling the plot as if I was telling it to another person. Then I condense and clarify. I aim for a synopsis of 2 pages double-spaced. That is also 1 page single-spaced. I just pray I don’t wanna sub to a place with 1 page double-spaced again. 🤷♀️
I also write my query. It is pain. It is crying on the floor. It is bad when it is finished. But at least I have a thing to throw at my writing community. And this, I cannot stress it enough, is where you you will find all the help and support you need. (Note: you also have to give back whenever you can however much you can.)
When all this is done, I try to give the manuscript another sleep (difficult because I am IMPATIENT bint) and polish everything once more. Maybe ask for help once more. (ngl 100% the hardest part of writing for me is asking for help.)
And that’s it. Now I yeet at agents for real.
The inevitable tweaks that accumulate during querying because you have the nagging feeling there is something fundamentally wrong with your manuscript. 🤷♂️
And the sky is burning, the sky is burning trying to make up for my eyes and the world is turning, the world is turning spinning dizzying like my days Oh give me that potion you spoke of to take all my pain away The draught to kill all my feelings be they whatever they may Don’t worry about my happiness there is none where I live Don’t worry about my love and hope I have neither to give. And the sky is ablaze, the sky is ablaze in lieu of the heart in my chest and darkness will fall, yes darkness must fall and maybe I shall find rest.
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. But I can’t program so it’s just like a thought experiment. A little something to make the nd experience, or at least my flavour of it, experienceable for everybody.
It’s just a little interaction game, where you explore and interact. The interface would look something like this:
At the bottom are the buttons for actions: play, angry, cuddle, hungry. At the top you have the exact same buttons again framed by a circle and a square button. There are no instructions. Except what the buttons mean though the icons are very on point (for me).
The game starts with a line of text:
First level is intro and easy. You walk around and can interact with things, play, eat, stuff. Just so you figure out the buttons. There’s a big teddy for cuddles.
From level two on things get more complicated. There are not only items, but also other dogs and humans. To finish the level, you have to do some tasks, like play with a human, get somebody to feed you, nap. Nothing difficult. But now the top row of buttons comes into play. Because few people you meet react to the buttons the way you want.
Like, most fellow dogs reply to Angry with Play. Humans, too. And when somebody signals leave me alone and you do, they get angry.
The solutions are the square – translate your signal – and the circle – translate the signals from outside. You can use them to translate an action you want to do to the outside, or let it run over a signal you get.
Surprise, surprise – most bottom row buttons need translation to the outside most of the time and vice versa. Though, once in a while, you will get lucky not having to do that.
The game gets more complicated as you have to translate both ways almost always. There are no keyboard short-cuts. You have to use the mouse. It is time consuming and the time allotted for the level runs out faster and faster.
When you failed a level three times, another line of text appears on the screen:
You get to choose and if you choose ‘yes’ all the lower row buttons suddenly mean exactly what they say to everybody you meet. No more clicking wildly to translate anything. It is easy to finish the level way below time-out.
Next level, you are a dog again. And each time you fail, you are asked again: Do you want to play as a cat? And the levels don’t get easier. You just can’t finish on time as a dog. You play as a cat. After a while, the game stops. There is one last line:
I don’t know if people would get it. But that’s what it feels like so often. The whole world is geared towards something I am not but everybody insist I must be. Because, what is the alternative? There is none, right?
Why don’t I want to play, aka live my life, as a dog? Everything is geared towards dog. Dog is easy.
But if you take into consideration the consistent translations I am doing all day everyday – I have learnt to emulate the world around me and I can “pass” for a dog well enough. So well, that people assume this is my normal and that it doesn’t cost me. But it’s not and it does.
In a world of burning water I arrive as my father’s daughter The beats in my bones reminds me of home but I will make this place my very own
I am looking for hope, make it only a ray. As you wink and then leave, are there stars in your eyes? Is it just a trick of the light? It might.
We have travelled so far with the shards of our past Take a sip of Mount Milgrom, make nostalgia last, Just because we left behind everything we had, it doesn’t mean it was all bad. Does it mean that we are mad?
Put your smile to my lips, put your hand in my hand We were no-one when we found this uncharted land And look at us now. Are we who we wanted to be? Will you be you? Can I still be me?