How To Finish Writing A Novel


I have never lacked characters or stories to write about. However, until I wrote Masks, I had never finished writing a novel. I had started about a dozen of them. I shredded them last year noting the amount of writing I had done for each. Some were over a hundred pages long, while others only thirty or forty pages. None was nearly done.

My problem was that I would get bogged down in the details and rarely got back to writing. I have read that some authors start writing with a very detailed outline of their story, and others wing it. Before writing Masks, I ran every story through my head first from beginning to end. Once I sat down to write out the story, I would think of new ideas for it. I would debate for too long whether to stick with the original or follow the new concept. If I ran along the new path of my characters, it followed that the story would change. Again, I would run the new version through my head before I wrote anything down. This might work for some authors, but it did not work for me. Finally, I realized I was just wasting my time.

I came up with a new approach for writing Masks. I forced myself not to think of the story, unless I was sitting at a computer and typing it out. All decisions that would imply different consequences in the story were made on the spot at the computer. I did not allow myself to think too much, just write as much as possible in whatever time I had on a particular day. It worked for me because I came to the end. Over several revisions, I did add and delete here and there, but I still had a finished novel so the decisions were easy to make. We all have to find a way to reach our goal. After years of disappointment, I found mine.

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