The End. AKA..Whoa, What Now?

I’m a little bit happy. And I’m a little bit scared. And I’m VERY kind, because I am NOT inserting a video of Donny &  Marie singing I’m a Little Bit Country.

You’re welcome.

So…I just finished the first draft of my WIP.

209 pages. 40 scenes. A whole heckuva lot of unknowns.

I’ve had my reservations about writing this loose draft, and–yes–there’s still part of me that wishes I’d been able to plot it more tightly along the way. But most of me is recognizing that, for this book, that would have been a large waste of time and maybe even messed me up big time. Because the realization I came to today, as I blasted through the last three scenes of the draft, is that there are two stories here.

One belongs to my main character, Caro, and I didn’t write nearly enough of that story this time around. The other story may belong to Caro, as well, but not to who she is at this age, this year, in her world. Or it may belong to another character, one I don’t know yet and will need to find before I pull the pieces of that storythat have showed up here into their own book.

I’m pretty sure there will have to be another book, because I think it’s the only way I’m going to deal with the sadness I felt today as I wrote these scenes. The story I won’t be telling yet is the story of the girl who gets to be part of Ida B. Wells’ world, whose life parallels and intersects with Wells, and whose choices will be strongly impacted by Wells’ beliefs and actions. That girl is not Caro. When I think about that unknown girl and about figuring out who she is and weaving a story for her, I am a bit intimidated, because it will mean very much stretching myself  into writing about a culture that is not one I know, not one I grew up with, and finding the connections and universals that I believe do exist.

For now, though, I’ll be working with Caro and the story that is hers to live and experience. The story of a young girl, daughter of an immigrant, who has to fight her way free of her mother’s fears and find her route to and into some of the darker, more frightening parts of 1913 Chicago. Parts that do belong to her world, even as her mother fights to keep them away from her, to keep Caro sheltered from her own history and, definitely, her future.

Probably half the plot points I’ve written at this point don’t belong to Caro–they belong to that other girl. Who is starting, even today, to be a shadowy figure in some part of my brain and who will, I’m hoping, stay with me and become less foglike, even as I write with Caro.

I know that I have a choice here. I could keep working on the story that focuses on Wells and this other girl, or I can decide to put that story on the shelf…for now, and develop a lot more of the plot around Caro’s actions and choices. Today, and for a while, I’m sticking with Caro. Story for me is character, wrapped around plot, threaded with setting, complicated by relationships and conflicts. And Caro is strong in my mind right now, even if she isn’t yet strong on paper. Her strengths, her weaknesses, the grief she is going to face–these I know.

So these I will write. And revise. And revise again…

And, always, leave myself open to possibilities.


  1. Congrats on writing those final scenes. And also on recognizing you have another story here. Yay! Another historical novel from Becky Levine!!

    I want to read this. Let me know when and if I get to.


    • beckylevine says:

      NOT YET! There’s no “IF”–I really, really do want you to read it, but it is SUCH a tangled mess right now, with so little of the story on the page. I think that’s what it’s supposed to be, but…

      Next step, figure out what the next step will be. 🙂


  2. How exciting! I know you’ve put a lot of work into this story.

    And yeah, thanks for not inflicting that video on us 🙂


  3. nrhatch says:

    Good luck.

    In uncertainty lies all possibility.


  4. Jeanie W says:

    Congrats on finishing the first draft!! And good luck detangling it! If you want me to read any of it and offer feedback as you work out the kinks, I’d be happy to. 🙂


  5. Congrats, Becky. I wish I could write such a loose first draft– you are inspiring! I’m about to join a “finish your NaNo” book group so maybe that will help. Particularly liked your last paragraph where you said,
    “Story for me is character, wrapped around plot, threaded with setting, complicated by relationships and conflicts. And Caro is strong in my mind right now, even if she isn’t yet strong on paper. Her strengths, her weaknesses, the grief she is going to face–these I know.” May I quote you?


    • beckylevine says:

      Carol, it’s the first time I’ve done it this way. I still have mixed feelings, but I think overall, it’s paid off. And, sure, quote me! 🙂


  6. jeannine atkins says:

    Congratulations .. and sorry about the bittersweetness and some confusion — though she seem to know what you have to do. It’s always hard to take that curves around what you thought was ahead. But in the interests of a more powerful story? Yeah, there’s really no choice. Good luck!


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Jeannine! I think some of the hard part is just wishing I could write faster and expand available time, but it’s probably time to just deal with it and keep writing. 🙂


  7. amanda says:

    Hi there — found you via Vivian Lee Mahoney’s blog. Congrats on your first draft! It’s always inspiring to hear of other writers getting down to it, and getting things done. Thanks for sharing~


  8. Yay!!! So happy for you, Becky! Finishing a first draft is such a huge step. And deciding which story you’re telling (and which one you aren’t) is momentous, too. Go, you!


  9. thanks, becky. blog is going up tonight! Thanks for sharing your journey with me.


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