How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

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EMC
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How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by EMC » October 31st, 2010, 5:34 pm

*screams in semi-frustration*

There's just so much to do. I can't get to the end of my first draft plot wise let alone be all clever with my language, characters, dialogue and what have you.
AND I'M DOING A CREATIVE WRITING MASTERS!!!

(Does that make it worse? I'm not sure...)

Any hints and tips for trudging through? I'm on the third re-working of the first draft of novel two, while novel 1 lies abandoned weeping piteously to itself. Soon to be joined by myself I fear. (And I haven't even faced query letters etc etc etc)

*starts breathing again*

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dios4vida
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by dios4vida » October 31st, 2010, 6:54 pm

First of all, my favorite advice: Breathe. Get some cookies.

Breathe while you eat the cookies.

Now, for the real (at least, most reasonable) advice:

Finishing a novel requires dedication along with the usual blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. Most of getting through is just sitting down and refusing to quit. Just keep trudging through. A few things I learned along the way:

1. Don't worry about being cute or clever right now. Just work plot. Complete your arcs and get to the end. Filling in the intelligent banter and witty prose comes in the rewrite/second draft, whatever you want to call it.

2. Even if it sucks, keep writing. Again, you can fix it later. ("You can fix everything but a blank page." -Nora Roberts.)

3. Keep notes on what you know needs work so that when you go back you can access those instead of bogging down your brain with edits.

Pretty much, it boils down to get your characters and plots to the end. Worry about everything else later. Keep breathing, and keep working. Remember, first drafts are supposed to suck. It's in the rewrites that we make it pretty.

Best of luck to you!!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by cheekychook » October 31st, 2010, 7:02 pm

Be careful breathing while you eat the cookies, lest you inhale some crumbs. Do not whistle while eating the cookies, crumbs and keyboards don't mix. Not that I know anything about that....
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by polymath » October 31st, 2010, 7:57 pm

Consider breaking the novel down into parts of action. Ask and answer questions. What's the significant action in the opening that foreshadows the dramatic action to come. Does the middle single-mindedly further the action. What's the ending action to come that was prepositioned in the beginning. Does the ending tie up loose ends, does it complete the significant action.

Number one, What's the main dramatic complication. Does every part stay in touch with the main dramatic complication.
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by sierramcconnell » November 1st, 2010, 2:20 pm

Here's some good advice.

I have about five novels in different stages of plot and finish. There's one over there, half handwritten, some typed up, that hasn't been worked on in over THREE YEARS.

I keep saying I'll finish it, but when I do, it'll probably be nothing like it was first intended to be.

Novels, since they grow like their authors, will only be completed when the author is ready to complete them.

You, as an author, are not ready to complete that book. As zen as that sounds, that book is not ready for you.

It's sort of like...when the student is ready, the master will appear. When the time comes for you to finish it, you will.
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by Margo » November 1st, 2010, 5:16 pm

What's the problem? Why aren't you finishing? I've finished a few, so I probably have felt whatever you're feeling, but which flavor of frustration is it in particular?
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by EMC » November 1st, 2010, 5:25 pm

Sierra - Oh God I hope so! By the way, I'm 29 too, and I'm one of the younger ones in my class. Money is a factor for sure, I'm lucky I got parental support and an alleged grant (it hasn't arrived yet.) If you have one or either you should go for it. I've let lack of money put me off so many things for so long, and as my aunt said - her masters paid for itself multiple times through work she got as a result. I envisage myself teaching while FINISHING THE @!£$%^&*(^%$£ novel, and I would have no credibility in the field without this qualification.

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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by EMC » November 1st, 2010, 5:28 pm

Margo - It's getting to the end of the story, and along the way worrying about the language, and that it's not 'literary' enough, but truthfully, primarily plot. I have 60k on my first and 80k on my second and I'm pretty confident I'll be able to use very little in the heel of the hunt, so to speak. I go off on tangents and have massive tracts that I don't want, that change the story and not in a good way. I'm rewriting the start of N2 again. I'm trying to plan it, take it slow, STAY WITH IT, but it's driving me to drink, and not in a good way. ;)

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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by dios4vida » November 1st, 2010, 5:35 pm

EMC wrote:Margo - It's getting to the end of the story, and along the way worrying about the language, and that it's not 'literary' enough, but truthfully, primarily plot. I have 60k on my first and 80k on my second and I'm pretty confident I'll be able to use very little in the heel of the hunt, so to speak. I go off on tangents and have massive tracts that I don't want, that change the story and not in a good way. I'm rewriting the start of N2 again. I'm trying to plan it, take it slow, STAY WITH IT, but it's driving me to drink, and not in a good way. ;)
If your basic trouble is with the plot, I'd suggest deconstructing it. Take it down to an outline or other super-brief and/or visual detail of your plot. Going chapter by chapter or scene by scene can really help you identify where your problems are. There are a lot of people on the forum who are dedicated outliners that have everything listed, others tend to take a looser or more "scattered" approach. There are tons of options - dry erase boards, post-its (one per scene), notebooks, palm of the hand, you name it. Find what works for your brain, take out all the "writerly" stuff and get down to the basic mechanics of the novel. I've found that helpful.
Brenda :)

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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by sierramcconnell » November 1st, 2010, 5:38 pm

dios4vida wrote:dry erase boards
I have three. [nerdy giggle]

Two small ones with cork-boards on the other side and a really big one on one wall between the window and bookshelf. God, I love it. It has fine tip pens and dots to help you write. Though I'm guilty of making side jokes on the characters and manically laughing in the midst of plotting...
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by Margo » November 1st, 2010, 6:20 pm

EMC wrote:Margo - It's getting to the end of the story, and along the way worrying about the language, and that it's not 'literary' enough, but truthfully, primarily plot. I have 60k on my first and 80k on my second and I'm pretty confident I'll be able to use very little in the heel of the hunt, so to speak. I go off on tangents and have massive tracts that I don't want, that change the story and not in a good way. I'm rewriting the start of N2 again. I'm trying to plan it, take it slow, STAY WITH IT, but it's driving me to drink, and not in a good way. ;)
Ahhhh yes, I was there with my second novella. I totally 'screwed the pooch' on that one, as they say. Or at least I dearly hope I'm not the only one who says that anymore. I'm going to seem like a puppy molester.

I have two suggestions. First, outline. If you already outline, outline more. The outline is the fence that will keep wild ideas from running away with you and your story. The first draft through, write to the outline. Don't worry if the prose isn't pretty enough or if the story seems too boring because it's all planned out. Pretty it up in the next draft, when you know for certain where the story is going. That's the opposite of what most people try to do, which is let the neato crazy artsy ideas come out first and THEN build a believable plot around this bright amorphous blob of pretty words. Instead, try constructing the plain frame, then add the art.

Second, more character work. I find that hesitation is easily overcome and tangent tempation easily resisted when I can look back on my character work and ask myself what the character would realistically do in the situation in question. Know your characters. Really REALLY well. My character sketch questions, for instance, take up 15 pages. That's just the questions, not the responses. You might not need 15 pages of questions, but it sure doesn't hurt to have more than a couple.
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by EMC » November 1st, 2010, 6:40 pm

Margo - I would dearly love to see those questions!
I had another reason for my not being able to get to the end, but it eludes me at this moment in time.
Many thanks for your suggestions, shall just keep on truckin'
:)
EMC

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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by dios4vida » November 1st, 2010, 6:59 pm

sierramcconnell wrote:
dios4vida wrote:dry erase boards
I have three. [nerdy giggle]

Two small ones with cork-boards on the other side and a really big one on one wall between the window and bookshelf. God, I love it. It has fine tip pens and dots to help you write. Though I'm guilty of making side jokes on the characters and manically laughing in the midst of plotting...
[returns nerdy giggle] Me too! I have two great big ones that I adore. I couldn't work without them. One holds my current WIP's outline, questions to be answered, and the random side note/joke as well. The other is outlines of other ideas and random thoughts that have no home. And side notes as well. It's great. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by sbs_mjc1 » November 2nd, 2010, 6:14 am

EMC wrote:Margo - It's getting to the end of the story, and along the way worrying about the language, and that it's not 'literary' enough, but truthfully, primarily plot. I have 60k on my first and 80k on my second and I'm pretty confident I'll be able to use very little in the heel of the hunt, so to speak. I go off on tangents and have massive tracts that I don't want, that change the story and not in a good way. I'm rewriting the start of N2 again. I'm trying to plan it, take it slow, STAY WITH IT, but it's driving me to drink, and not in a good way. ;)
IMHO, when you can't finish a book, there is usually something wrong with the plot, and/or the conflict is forced. I'd suggest outlining (notcards for each plot point, a big peice of butcher paper on the wall, a calander...) and making sure each even has a causal connection to the last. You are allowed one unexplained plot-relevant coincidence, preferably towards the beginning of the novel. Outlining also helps a lot with tangents (and I say this as the master of the irrelevant tangent).
As for getting at the ending-- I know a lot of people plan their ending before they start, but you certainly don't have to do so. However, a satisfying climactic scene gets at the core conflict of the novel (and if you don't know what the core conflict of your story is... you're in deep trouble). For example, if the MC has been trying to get her family's approval for the whole novel, the climax will have her either getting through to them, or failing, or realizing that she needs to live her own life and stop caring about what Mom and Dad think.
Another thing: make sure you have the right main character for the story. It's quite common for people to have a plot, and start writing from one character's POV, and then realize that the character's BFF or cousin or dog is the character who does more, moves the plot forward, does all the cool stuff, etc.
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Re: How does ANYONE ever (EVER) finish a book?!

Post by Jenemb » November 2nd, 2010, 7:50 am

Dont over think it, EMC.

Just get the plot down, and worry about the rest in editing.
Force it into submission!

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