Completing Your First Novel: A New Author’s Musings

Writing is hard. Like, double hard. I knew I wanted to be a writer—specifically a novelist—almost fifteen years ago. Back then I had this romantic idea that I would sit down at a piece of paper or a computer and just like that, the magic would happen. A few hours a day, and bam! A fantastical world of my creation would come to life before my eyes before I’d know it.

It was a nice thought, anyhow.

If you’re anything like me, you have dozens upon dozens of story ideas and the beginnings of many of those stories; completed, intact drafts, however? Well, I found that actually getting THROUGH even one of my novel’s plotline was an impossibility. I’d start it off thinking This is it! This is the one! And then? Well before the climax, I’d find my characters were balking to follow my orders, my plot had derailed, and the story threads were a mess.

So now what?

What do runners and writers have in common?

The thing about novel writing is it’s a marathon. You have to be in it for the long haul.

And the thing about finishing marathons is you need to have adequately trained your body to endure the grueling ordeal.

Writing is no different. If you are struggling to make your way through the plotline of a novel, write smaller.

Two years ago, I abandoned novel writing in favor of short stories. I started focusing on having a completed story, no matter the finished product’s length.

A few dozen completed story plotlines later, and last fall I returned to a novel-length plot.

And guess what I finished this spring.

Is it good? God no. I hate it. But it’s complete. Now I can rewrite it, edit it, or even start over knowing that making my way through writing another novel is anything but impossible.

So if you’re struggling to finish that novel, don’t stress it. You have more than one good story in you, I promise. Write a few short ones. Practice. Train up and you’ll reach the finish line.

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