Ahhh…finishing that novel. Is it one of your New Years Resolutions?
Is it one that daunts you? Scares you?
What is it about finishing a book that freaks us writers out so much?
I asked some of my writing friends what their biggest challenge was when it came to this. The top response explained an apprehension about how the whole book would be pulled together, all it’s ideas and events, into a tidy conclusion.
Also, a finished product meant it was time for the manuscript to be seen by the outside world, and would be vulnerable to critical eyes and opinions.
But if you really want to bite the bullet this year and commit to finishing your book, you need a plan of action, and a willingness to see that plan through. Here are three tips to help you finish your book:
Ideally, you’ll have an outline of your writing project before you commence the writing phase, but if not it is certainly not too late to implement one. A Plot Planning Sheet can be very helpful for this, and you can download one right here: http://bit.ly/2BSIXXA
Part of the purpose of the Plot Planning Sheet is to sketch out the Beginning, Middle and End of your book. If you are using this tool at the start of the writing process, you can create a basic outline of each of these parts of the story, and add more detail as you go along. If you are implementing this tool in the middle of the writing process, it will help give you clarity on what you have worked on so far. At least you’ll have a general idea of how you’ll wrap up your book, and that will become clearer to you as you go along.
Deciding On The Type of Ending
The biggest lesson I have learned whilst working on both short stories and novels is that the ending doesn’t have to be good and happy. It does, however, need to be conclusive and satisfactory.
Think of the film, Saw, for example (if you have had the stomach to watch it!)
Or The Sixth Sense.
Or 90s drama/romances like The Virgin Suicides or American Beauty.
These films certainly don’t have a ‘happy’ ending, but the details of the story come together in the end. Seeing all the detail link up is satisfactory and conclusive, however tragic.
That’s right, commit to the end! To do so you are going to have to face the fear and take responsibility for finishing that darn book. And the good news is, it’s not up to you to have a perfect book at this stage! Do your best as the writer, and then seek the help of a trusted friend, relative, writers group member or professional editor to help you refine your story, which will include crafting the perfect ending!
By the way, the journey doesn’t stop here. You have the second and maybe third drafts to complete, so the sooner you finish the first, the better!
If mulling over your manuscript gives you joy and satisfaction, by all means ignore what I’ve suggested in this post. I personally love the opportunity that rewrites provide to relive my story, to spend even more time with the characters and the events that shape the experiences o the book. But if you really want to finish your manuscript, and especially if you have a vision to publish it, you’re going to have to get tough on yourself!
TRUST in yourself as the writer and the story you have created. Someone out there needs to read what you have to say!
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