Thursday, July 31, 2014

Larry L. King on How to Finish a Book

I meet a lot of writers who have yet to finish a book. I meet a lot of writers who have been working on one book for years. I meet a lot of writers who get to the third act and never manage to write the ending. I myself have been in all of these places. And I'm currently struggling to get my word count in every day. Working in the summer is difficult with the kids home from school and everything so crazy.

But... for authors who want to finish their story... Larry L. King has the best advice.


And then, of course, repeat this process for the rest of your life. Some days it's easier said than done, right? When I encounter those days, I read. How do you deal with the days when you feel like you're never going to finish?

18 comments:

  1. I have to take breaks, or i'll just give up on the story. I usually read, work on another one of my books, or help one of my writer friends with her writers block :) (thinking up scenes, finding people that look like our characters, etc.) :)

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    1. Ooh, I like the helping another writer idea. It's always fun to come up with ideas that you don't have to decide are good or bad. :-)

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    2. It is! And it also helps when your brain is directed away from your story for a second. You can think of ideas for someone else, and you aren't tired out from that story- it's easy, and it helps the fellow writer :)

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  2. When it feels like I'm never going to finish, I take a break and read, go for a run, do some kind of craft or brainstorm other ideas. For awhile I could never seem to finish a novel. I think I tried writing a novel two times before my current WIP, and I never got very far into a story before it completely fizzled out. Now, though, I am sure that I've written a novel that I can finish. I am so close to writing the end, so luckily, the feeling of "this is never going to end" is gone for this WIP.

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad, Ana. Congrats. Can't wait to hear when you type The End!

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  3. I definitely try and take my mind off of it anyway that I can. Sometimes that could be working on another story or poem or doing something completely different like exercise or watching a film. Then I make a huge cup of tea (usually more than one!) and try to get back into it.

    www.alicekouzmenkowriting.blogspot.com

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    1. Sounds like a good way to clear your mind. And I like having a cup of tea, too.

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  4. I usually read or listen to music to help me brainstorm. Whenever I get a new scene in my head, then I'm ready to go.

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  5. I try to get away from my computer. A lot of times my brain is sapped from staring at it and wondering what to write. When I get away from it and go talk with my sister who doesn't write it helps like crazy. A lot of times I come up to her give her very little information on where I am stuck and ask "What should come next?" she always has these ideas that I never dreamed of. Because she hasn't been saturated in the story yet her mind is fresh with all sorts of possibilities.

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    1. Oh, that's great that you have a sister brainstorming helper! I'm jealous. Also, you're on to something in taking that break. Studies have shown that people get much more work done in two, two-hour chunks of the day than if they sit at the desk for eight hours straight. Our brains need rest!

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  6. Ok so this is a great quote for me today! But I need some advice. I started on this book but it's getting harder and harder for me to finish. I don't know if I should just plow through and finish or quit and start on something else.

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    1. In my opinion, that depends on how much you love the story, which is unfortunately a not very quantifiable thing. Sometimes it might feel like you don't (everybody has those "oh no, this is HORRIBLE!" times; Stephanie once called them voice-y days, referring to the niggling little thoughts that this will never amount to anything), but deep deep down it's only hard because you had a vision for the story and your work's not living up to it. I was in your position earlier this year when I was losing motivation, doubting the story, and contemplating ideas that look nicer, but then I had a scare where I thought my computer had lost my novel and suddenly I loved it and knew I needed to finish it. Obviously deleting your novel to see if you'd miss it is not a good way to go, but you could try asking yourself: "If my novel was lost, would I a) break down in sobs and tell everyone and their dog what a tragedy this and hate myself for ever declaring my beautiful labor of love boring or b) be secretly relieved the putrid thing was off my hard drive and that I had an excuse to move onto something with potential?" If the answer is a), great. I'd say push on through.

      If the answer is b), if you're positively sure that it's b), then it could be your writerly gut (technical term, lol) telling you it's time to move on, and that's absolutely nothing of which to be ashamed. I have a slew of projects that I've abandoned. I felt guilty about abandoning them at the time. Some I may return to, and some...well, let's just say it's a blessing I wasted no more time on a cross between Rapunzel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rumplestiltskin.

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    2. If you've never completed a story, you should plow through and finish. For me, there is a point in every book I've written when I hated the story. I have just spent so much time on it, that I'm sick of it. But if I'd quit and started something new, I'd never have the books I have. It also depends how close you are. If this is a new story and you're already annoyed with it, you might need to take a break and brainstorm what the problems might be. Could be you need more conflict or something.

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  7. Ooooh, what a nice quote. That's just... I mean, the only book I've ever finished was this horrible YA novel back when I was still reading MG and decided to write a love triangle with fantasy and all that stuff! Yeah, 'twas horrible, but now I'm rewriting it and my mom says it has promise, so... Moms are cool.

    But yeah, it's hard to write and actually finish. But you CAN do it, right? It's not impossible!

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  8. I'm having one of those moments now. Music is a great help, as well as word wars and deadlines. Sometimes I do take a break, and procrastinate a little when the going gets really tough. When I'm not excited about a part of my story, I invent a new character, new plot device, and/or witty conversation to excite myself about it.

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  9. I often read or do fanfiction when I've hit a rough spot in my own story. Music's good for that, too.


    Alexa S. Winters
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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