If you’re the celebratory kind (and who isn’t), here are some benchmarks that should give you a reason to call in the cheerleaders, quaff a tall cold one, or otherwise laud the muse.
1. You have the basics of a solid plot.
After considering all the options, you’ve decided on a situation that feels right, a plot that gives you the opportunity to pursue a story that challenges your creativity. Take a bow.
2. You’ve successfully concluded the opening chapter.
You’re off to a great start. You’ve created a zinger of an opening paragraph, and you’ve set the plot in motion. Two loud huzzahs, please.
3. The dread middle third is in the can, to use an old movie term.
Most writers feel the middle portion of a novel is the most difficult to write. That’s where the story usually bogs down, where you need to work hard to keep the action from lagging. When you’re ready for the final arc, tip your hat and kick your heels.
4. You’ve finished the first draft.
For lots, maybe most, writers, this is the point where you have the basic story on paper (or in the computer), and you’re ready to go back and smooth out the language, beef up the descriptions, put things in shape for the final revision. Since I’m a constant editor, by the time I finish a first draft it’s about ready for the final revision. Whichever way you lean, it’s time to light up the sparklers.
5. You’ve passed the manuscript around your first readers, digested all their comments and suggestions, and penned the final revision.
This is the point where you trot out the trumpets and the snare drums. You’ve done the deed. Well, almost.
6. You have landed a publisher.
You’ve inked your name on a contract, either through an agent or with an independent publisher that doesn’t require agent submissions. This is the biggie. You fire off the Roman candles and the rockets. Buy a round for everybody at the bar.
7. At last you have a book, a bound volume with a colorful cover and hundreds of inside pages, in your hands.
This may seem anticlimactic to the non-writer, but it’s the arrival at the peak for you. Just sit down, feel the heft of it, turn the pages, and savor the moment.
8. You scrawl your name on the title page at your first signing.
Now you really feel like an author. You’ve sold the book to a reader. This is the most fulfilling moment. Enjoy it and celebrate all you want. Then prepare to embark upon the writer’s other journey–guess what, you are now a marketer.
All you pubbed writers, uh, authors, out there does this sound familiar, or did you have other high points in the process deserving of celebration?