Tag Archives: end

Crossing the Finish Line

First of all: Holy shit. I just finished my first novel ever.

This past November had rough parts, but overall it has turned out to be not only my most productive, but my most successful as well. I wrote the epilogue and final words to the novel this morning at 4:30 am.

After pushing myself through with the mantra of, “Just get it done, edit later, don’t worry about anything but getting through the chapter, you know what you want to happen,” I reached the finish line, almost a whole month later.

I kept meaning to post about NaNo during Nano, but it never happened. I mean to do so many things for this month that I didn’t get to on the blog. I wanted to keep encouraging everyone and give progress updates and say awesome things and show off things I’d found through the Facebook group for my Wrimo region, there was so much on my mind, but I had just kept diving into the novel further.

Which is the right thing for me to have done anyway, but again I find myself looking back at how I push myself and causing undue stress because of my ambition.

Either way, I muscled my way through to a finished first draft and I couldn’t be happier. I only hit 85k at the end of the month, 5k off from my personal best, but overall this was a much more successful time than any others.

I’m ecstatic that I finally finished something. That I had finally forced myself to stay on task and get through to the finish line like I had written about so many months before. It is an incredible feeling to know you can finish something, like reading a huge book and looking back and saying, “you know what? I did that.”

And I did. And all it takes is to push through. Shove away the thoughts that it’s not good enough. You’ll get to it later, there’s always the chance that you can go back and fix it when the time comes, but what’s most important, always, is to get to the end. Find a first draft. Make mistakes. Screw up. Make epiphanies to new hooks and ideas and go back and work on them later, but do it, at all.

The hardest part will always be getting through the initial stages. Do not work for perfection, just work. Think about the ideas and get to them. “Just so many more chapters or words until I get to this,” and keep setting goals, mini goals, things you can reach for.

It is so satisfying to look back at what I wrote and to know that I managed to get all of my ideas and visuals out on a document.

I remember getting discouraged about Friend pushing past me in a blaze of glory last year and the year before. “I should be hitting 100k too,” or “I should be at what you’re at,” and his response was the same: “I’ve been doing this far longer than you have.”

You aren’t going to get it on the first try, but that does not mean that you are not going to get it at all. It takes crap attempts and bad months and really shitty drafts, but you’ll eventually find what makes it through to the end.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that an erotica was the first thing I finished. It was the first time I had written a novel for that genre, and I enjoyed writing every word of it. Well, almost, some were more boring than others, but it was still an incredibly fun experience for me. Something new and it turned out to be the spark to a fire I hadn’t discovered yet.

But everything takes time. It’ll take time to hone your skills and get better at writing and developing a style. It takes time to learn how you work and how you build characters. You have to figure out how you work and then find something that works with how you do.

Still, I know it’s not as easy as saying just that, but seeing someone say it helps. If you’re like me, not being the best can be discouraging. Just remember to keep your chin up and worry about what’s on your screen, not anyone else’s, and eventually, you’ll get where you need or want to be.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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Guest Post: Where’s Your Sense of Adventure?

A reason we write novels is to go on a long, strange trip with a character.   We’re in the backseat, sightseeing, listening to them talk, and occasionally when they stop the car to look at something, we get out too.   We learn things about the places we go, and we learn things about our hero – and ourselves when we compare our own experiences to him or her.

Where the car goes is up to the author – they have the map in their head, they know whether the bridge is out, whether there’s romance or mystery or alien abductions that lie in front of the bumper.

 

I could go into more detail about the archetypical Hero’s Journey outline, but others have done it so much better in the past, we probably don’t need to here.   The gist is simple; what will the end of the destination be like for the protagonist(s)?    The end is just as important as the beginning, and indeed some people write their novels backwards, and then deconstruct the steps it took to get there in order to do it right.

 

But here’s the ticket for today.   You are the navigator for your characters’ journey; so instead of being the backseat driver, you’re riding shotgun.     Your reading audience are the ones in the backseat.     And the shades are down back there, so they have to lean forward to hear what the characters are saying and see what’s out the front windows.

 

* Try to remember to describe things well enough that if you didn’t know the place or item in question by name, you could at least draw a picture of it.

 

“It was an oblong plastic thing, like a picture frame, only there wasn’t a picture in behind the glass like Joseph had ever seen before.  It was made up from a single silvery line, clearly showing a mazelike path that formed an image.    The two little white knobs made the line at the right end of the picture get a little longer.    The artist’s name, ‘Etchasketch”, was signed at the top instead of at the bottom, in some resinous material along the frame.”

 

“The smell was what he noticed first; a harsh, acrid smell that made his nose itch as he walked across the floor, patterned in small one inch squares.   He passed by a flat shelf, about the height of his thigh, and there were three oval depressions in the top that had some sort of ornamental extrusion above it.    On the wall was a white box with a tube on one side, and an ominous-looking button the size of his fist.”

 

* Interaction has ‘action’ as a component.   When a character interacts with something, its state changes, visibly, audibly, and perhaps in other ways.   Otherwise it’s just scenery.
“Shawn popped the top of the green plastic sports bottle and upended it over his head.   It wasn’t the most efficient way to get cool, but he looked happy as the water gushed out and ran down his hair and face in rivulets.   “Aaah.”  he said.

 

‘I was thirsty.’  I growled at him.

 

He stopped smiling.  “Sorry.”

 

Don’t be afraid to change paths if the story looks better the new way.   The Wordsmith and I have had a lot of fun warping where a story we’ve been working on is going; sometimes you wind up with ‘breakout characters’ that steal the show, and you wind up liking the way they work with the original main character and you give them a larger role in the tale when they were never in the original plan.     Sometimes the road that the character is on no longer makes sense, and where the other fork goes works better with the plot.

 

There are many roads to that ‘The End’ at the end of the novel, but even better sometimes is when you see that it’s not ‘The End’ so much as the ‘Until Next Time…’

 

But the key is that you have to a) figure out where you want the journey to lead (at least at first, detours are allowed   b) figure out what the point of going there is

 

And THEN you can worry about how to get there from here on page 1.