Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Tips to Finish That Book by Evelyn M. Hill

His Forgotten FiancĂ©e is the first book I’ve ever published.

And I have a confession to make: there came a point, in the middle of the book, where I realized this was The Worst Book Ever Written. I came very close to walking away. If I hadn’t entered a contest (Love Inspired Historical’s Manuscript Matchmaker) and had an editor ask to see the story, I do not think I would have finished it, let alone submitted it and had the kind editor offer to buy it.

I’ve gone on to write a few more novels since then. My next historical western, The English Lieutenant’s Lady, is due out in February. I’ve also written a couple of contemporary romantic suspense novels as well as a romance set in Victorian England. And oddly enough, during the course of writing these stories I realized that each one was The Worst Book Ever Written.

That should be a statistical impossibility. Surely one must be worse than the others? Apparently, the little voice of doubt inside me doesn’t concern itself with statistics.

I’ve come to the conclusion that doubt is part of the process just as much as the initial excitement of starting a story. The little voice of doubt might well be right when it tells you the story could be better. But if it tells you to walk away from a story that’s over the halfway mark—don’t listen to it. Finish the book.
If I give up on a story before it’s even finished, I’m doing the editor’s job for her, rejecting the manuscript. That’s not necessary. Editors are good at their jobs. You don’t need to do their work for them. Besides, you might be wrong. They might love it.

Really. It’s okay to finish a manuscript and send it out.

Or at least just finish it.

These are some things I wish I’d known when I started writing:
  • Write what excites you. If you write something because it’s popular and you think it’ll sell, you’ll end up with a book you don’t love. Writing is too much work to waste time on an idea that never grabbed you from the beginning.
  • If you’re halfway through the book and you start to think it’s awful, keep going. Take notes on the Bright Shiny New Idea that’s hovering around, but push through with the original story.
  • Try writing every day. There are two kinds of writers in the world: those for whom writing every day is the only way to go, and those who don’t find this helpful. The only way to be sure which group you’re in is to try it. I’ve seen too many writers who quit writing because they only wrote when they were inspired. The middle of the book is a desert when it comes to inspiration. Steady progress, even 500 words a day, can get you through the sagging middle.

What gets you through to The End when it seems you should never have started?


According to family tradition, Evelyn M. Hill is descended from a long line of Texas horse thieves. (But when your family is not only Texan, but Irish, tall tales come with the territory.) This might explain why she devoted much of her childhood to writing stories about horses. Once she grew up, the stories naturally featured a tall, handsome cowboy as well.

She lives at the end of the Oregon Trail, where she gets to do all her historical research in person, and she loves to hear from readers!

Facebook: Evelyn M. Hill, author