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Old 11-04-2017, 11:11 PM View Post #1 (Link) How To Finish Writing Your Novels
mell (Offline)
Literary Newbie
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 9
Points: 25
Times Thanked: 1
You're sitting at your computer, scrolling through Microsoft Word or Notes or Docs, revisiting your old writing. "Oh, there's that piece I wrote last year I never got around to finishing." "Hey, I wrote a few pages from a really cool story concept. Too bad I abandoned it." "Wow, there's that half-finished manuscript I was really excited about publishing, shame I never had a chance."

You've found a disturbing pattern: you have a dozen half-finished or quarter-finished or one-page-writen-finished novels but nothing you've actually, well... completed.

Every writer struggles with writing a good story, but there's also a high number of writers who just struggle with getting it done. I did too. I'm here to try to (hopefully) help you finish writing the book you've always wanted to write.

Before I start explaining how you CAN finish your stories, let's first figure out WHY you don't. Why do you discontinue your pieces? Mainly, I think, it's a loss of interest. It can also be that you feel stuck and don't know where your story is going. Or maybe you're both of these things - you just can't sum up the motivation to actually sit at a keyboard and write.

What can you do about it?
_____________

MAKE YOUR STORY WORTH CONTINUING

Okay, so you've decided to write the story you'll finish. The story. You decide, sit down, and... begin writing.

That won't work. If you don't want to be restricted by an outline, you should still know the story you're going to write - whether it's a general idea or a full fledged scene-by-scene description. You should make sure your story has enough substance so that you are able to write more than a page, and be of enough interest to you so you'll keep writing. Even full fledged pantsers (writers who write without any outline) still know something about their story.

A lot of the work of maintaining your story isn't in the writing, but the prewriting. So ask yourself: am I genuinely interested in this? Is this novel big enough, and not just meant to be a two page short story? Do I have an idea of where it's going to go?

COMMIT

Do you really, really, really want to write this novel?

I'm not here to convince you it's the hardest thing you'll ever do. But it takes a while. It takes dedication - several hundred hours just to write a first draft.

So commit. Say, THIS is the story. Then give yourself a plan: fifteen minutes a day, a thousand words a day, whatever. A deadline, even.

It can feel daunting, but making writing a part of your future - that's a big step. Make it a part of your time. Jot down what you're going to do today, what you'll do this week.

Soon it'll start to feel like a project, and not just some random burst of inspiration. This is a part of your life now; it's something you've committed to and something you plan - actually plan, as in you wrote it down on a piece of paper - to finish.

I have all these other ideas, and so whenever I commit to something I think, I want to write something else! What do I do? Don't ignore the new ideas. Write them down so you can write them later. Try to incorporate them into your current project. Or write a page or two of their story one day. Then let it rest and keep on writing your big project.

Writing a novel doesn't mean you abandon your other ideas. It means you spend more time on that novel. I would write these new ideas out. Try them out. But always go back to your big story. There'll be more below on not getting bored with that big story.

MAKE IT A PART OF YOUR LIFE

Make your big story a part of your life. This isn't huge.

It's small things, like drawing a map of your spec fit world. Or doing random character interviews or writing scenes outside of the current plot - like, how were your character before the story? It means sketching out your protagonist. What's her character design? It means thinking about them a little before you go to sleep or as you walk the dog.

If you start thinking of your book OUTSIDE of the time you write it, it becomes more relevant to your life. And on days when writing your novel feels like a chore, jotting down some dialogue between your two favourite characters feels like a breath of fresh air.

So buy a notebook just for your novel. Turn that novel from a page in your story to a work you're thinking about in YOUR daily life.
______________

I think these are the three most important pieces of advice. They're not going to help everyone. But they do change the meaning of what a "novel" is. It's not just a sketch, it's a project. A big one.

When I was a (younger) kid, all my stories were one page long. But then one day I started a book and then by pure chance started writing about it in my notebook. I had all these ideas for a plot and about the world of the story. That was the first time I wrote something that was 10,000 words long.

The following are tips if you already understand the advice above. They're there to keep you motivated.

- write every day or almost every day. Even if it's just 50 words or a paragraph of free write, even if you don't want to, staying close to your writing will help you finish it.

- write what you LOVE about the project. What excites you? You can reference this writing later on so to motivate yourself.

- set goals. "I want to write 3,000 words today", for example. The writing will then feel more concrete.

- skip ahead in your story if you ever feel bored. Write the first kiss between the characters, write the scene where your main character figures out who the murderer is. Store up a few of these scenes for whenever you get writer's block.

- avoid hardcore editing while you write. A few quick revisions are fine, but you have to finish your writing first.

- don't take breaks that are over two or three days. It's really hard to pick up your writing again.

- if you think the story sucks, ask yourself why. Write down the reasons, make a note of it, but move on. This can be fixed in the editing stage.

- if you hate the direction your story has taken, go back. Where did it go wrong? Take it from there.

- if you absolutely HATE the story, from the beginning to the end, for reasons that are NOT about the execution but about the concept...stop. It's not worth it.

Feel free to add some more tips in the comments!
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