Monday, April 26, 2010

Completing the Circle - Finishing That Novel

Humans have a fascination with rings and circles. I think part of that fascination stems from our enjoyment of things being finished, connected, and complete. A circle often symbolizes completion, or a 'whole' rather than a 'part' of something.

I'm thinking of the idea of 'completion' as I push through the ending of my current novel. I've written books before, but this one is being stubborn. It does not want to finish itself. Now, sometimes that is because the writing is telling you it isn't done yet. When you get that feeling, the only cure is to keep on writing until it is really done. That may be part of what is happening here, a need to fill in the gaps. But I think the other part is a subconscious desire not to finish.

At least for me, writing the first draft is always my favorite part of the whole process. That's when the ideas are flowing, the fingers are flying, and the world disappears. When I'm done writing, I get to do the hard parts of editing and then querying. That all happens in the real world, which as a fiction writer is not where I like to spend most of my time.

So to motivate myself to push through this thing, I thought I'd post some tips on what has worked for me occasionally in the past.  Both to share with you, and to remind myself that I have to pick one or more of these, do them, and get that book finished.  (I re-read and see all my tips start with an "R." I didn't mean to do that. Weird.)

  1. Reassess the Outline.  When I'm having trouble finishing, this is my first approach. Sometimes my outline for the rest of the novel is simply too vague. I have a tendency to keep my outlines as bare as possible, because my characters write better stories (and endings) than I do. I hate to box them in. But sometimes you have to be firm, "Okay guys, let's wrap it up. If you want to keep running around we can write another book, but this one has to end." So I map out the ending in more detail, and that will often be all I need to get the job done.
  2. Reconsider the Goals.  We all know the standard idea of setting large goals, and then breaking those goals into small, manageable pieces. Those small pieces are the weekly or daily goals that make the big goal attainable. There are times I have trouble finishing a large project because I haven't broken the goals down quite enough. I don't usually spot this in the beginning, since things do change over time. What worked when I started the book might not work at the end. So I take another look at the small goals, and break them into even smaller pieces, so that it all seems much less overwhelming.
  3. Recruit a Friend.  And there are times when what I need is either support or accountability. I find a friend to read a chapter or two, tell me how great the book is and how much they want to read the rest of it. Very motivating. Other times I find a friend, tell them my goals, and have them check up with me to see if I'm meeting them. I prefer the first approach, but sometimes you need the sound of a whip to get off of your duff. Or, in our case, the sound will get us onto our respective duffs and keep us writing.
  4. Revisit the Beginning.  By this I mean going back to the reasons I wanted to write the book in the first place. Sometimes I need to take a mental trip back to when the book was still an idea that I was dying to write about. I do this and try to conjure up the excitement and sense of purpose that I felt at that time. This can help me put some of the fun back into the work of writing that last bit.
  5. Reset Priorities.  This means that I might need to put aside all other writing projects. Normally, I have several projects going on at once (like this blog, say). Going from one to another keeps things fresh. But it also provides places to hide. I may have to drop all other projects until I get the novel finished. If I'm within ten thousand words, it would probably be a good thing to do. If I am en fuego (on fire) I can write ten thousand words of draft in a day. The thought of finishing this draft in one day is tantalizing, indeed.  

I think I'll write another post or two in the future about writing motivations, in general. So I'm doing this kind of backwards, by starting at the end. But this what I needed right now to keep myself moving towards my goal.

Additional suggestions for how to push through to the ending of that novel?


Image Credit:  Art: Ringed Blue Planet And Moon by CommanderEVE on deviantArt

My Comments: I was at first attracted to the luminous color of this piece. And then I kept looking at the rings and circles: the halo around the planet, the rings of the planet, the bright ring of the moon, and the stars in the background. It all seems very orderly, gem-like, and perfect. Sure would be nice to get that feeling at the finish of my novel.


Anonymous said...

I'm CommanderEVE!

Thank you so much for highlighting my work. :D

Bryce Ellicott said...

Glad you stopped by the blog - look forward to posting more art in the future!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Hey, Bryce! I'm right there with you. I'm at 60% on my WIP and flirting with the end, so I understand the need to revisit outlines, goals, etc! Good luck!

Bryce Ellicott said...

Zoe - Thanks! Good luck to you, too.