Toeing the Finish Line

Okay. It’s time for #trueconfessions, writer edition.

Usually people struggle getting a project started. Not finishing. Well, maybe sometimes finishing.

We all have horror stories about writer’s block when we sit down to begin a project or at intermittent points throughout the process. The blank cursor on the page blinks, tormenting you as all of your ideas fly out of your brain and you become obsessed with the pulse of the blank page. But, what if you’ve been writing just fine and simply can’t finish? For the past couple of months, I’ve been avoiding writing the last chapter of NightWind because, frankly, I don’t know how to handle it.

Why not? I’ve written an entire novel. The majority of the text is already in second-draft form because I got three-quarters of the way through the first draft and decided that my storytelling style wasn’t working. So, I went back to the beginning and worked my way through again…And again. All without finishing that last chapter. And now, it’s time. I need to finish it. At this point, I’m just procrastinating (and that’s totally not my style).

There are so many good things that will come from finishing the draft. I can finally contact my cover artist and ask her about working on my new project. I can share my draft with beta readers. I can begin all the last steps and edits necessary so I can finish another project and get ready to begin my next one.

So, what am I afraid of? Nothing really. I don’t have writer’s block. I know what I want my cover to look like. I know what I’m writing next. I know how the story ends. But, I just can’t figure out how to make it come together without seeming anticlimactic. Is there a flaw in my story? Maybe.

As I think about it more, I think I know the problem. I’ve set the story up so that a sequel could easily be written. That was never the plan, though. I’m not interested in a sequel. I hate the idea of writing a sequel, though I love reading them when other authors do it. But the piece that is left in the air is also the crux for the villain’s actions that set the story in motion, so it’s inherently tied to the plot and progression of the story.

Over the past two months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to resolve all of the loose ends without having to write another book. So far, the only solution that has come to mind is to write another chapter, so the chapter I’m hanging on is no longer the last chapter of the story. It could help heighten the dramatic action of the last step in the plot and it could help me bring the story to a more solid resolution without feeling like I need to write a whole new book.

Plotting a story is really complicated and I feel that I have yet to do it “correctly.” I get impatient with story boarding and outlining after a while because all I want to do is write. But, perhaps that is to my detriment. Last fall, I spent one entire month focused on character building and plot outlining for this story. Perhaps in the future I should expand this time frame a bit to force myself to pay closer attention to how a story might progress. Of course, characters always seem to get in the way of the intended plot and things change.

As I sit down over the next couple of weeks and force myself to finish my draft, I’ll let you know how things turn out. For the moment, I’m going to continue to turn things over in my head in hopes of coming up with the right solution that will give my readers the best possible experience with my project.

Have you ever had trouble completing a draft? What tips do you have for overcoming plot issues after you’ve already started writing? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


7 thoughts on “Toeing the Finish Line

  1. Finishing strongly is what we desire. We want that satisfaction of completing the story well. When that completion doesn’t happen satisfactorily, I allow myself

    1. This is good advice! I feel like I should be rested. I had hand and elbow surgery two-and-a-half weeks ago, so I’ve been doing virtually no writing beyond my day job lately. But perhaps I should consider something further!

  2. I’m just working on my first novel, and so far I haven’t been too stuck. Now that I’ve said that I’m sure I’ll hit a wall tomorrow! I’d like to hear how you do on yours and the rest of your process, as I am definitely still learning.

    1. Way to go on your first novel! That’s awesome! I will certainly keep my blog updated with my last steps.

  3. This is completely relatable. Sometimes it’s hard for me to finish too. I’m terrible at coming up with an ending at times. — Also, I agree with you about sequels. I’m not big on writing sequels either. I haven’t written a sequel yet.

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