First, Finish

Writers frequently ask me how an author knows when the manuscript is finished. Perhaps a better question for new writers ought to be, “How will I know my novel isn’t going to be finished?” I say that because many people either desire to write a novel or are told they should write one. They flock to my classes and I generally remember students by their storyline. Yet I know that novel writing is difficult. The majority will probably not even finish the first draft.
But fear not! If you are writing a novel, you can purpose to be that one writer out of many who has the skill, the guts and the commitment to finish that novel. You’ll be in rare company, but I think that’s what I love about writing: anyone can do it, but only the skillful and the determined can do it well.
Writing Tip for Today: When you begin a novel, you’re on fire. By the time you hit the middle, you may be losing steam. Here are some ways to keep your novel out of the desk drawer:

  • Show up! The novel usually doesn’t write itself. Thinking about writing a story doesn’t count.
  • Learn to write on a regular basis, and don’t concern yourself with the quality when you are drafting.
  • When you write, think cinematically and write in scenes. Long narratives make it harder for the reader to experience the story.
  • Once you’ve finished a draft, let it alone for several weeks. Then revision fun begins. Your novel isn’t finished, it’s shifting to a different phase.
  • Show up for the editing phase with a thick skin.
  • Be willing to rewrite as much as needed. Often this means a lot of revision.
  • Read novels like your own, and read the very best novels you can find.
  • Start another novel.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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