Monday, December 21, 2009

Patience Dear Writer

Last week I was excited because I was nearly finished with my latest novel. I could see the end and thought that it was only hours until the first draft would be complete.

Not so fast buckaroo. I worked feverishly on the final scenes right up until the last few pages and suddenly realized, I hated the ending. Instead of one big conflagration where the truth is finally revealed in an exciting finish, I had one sort of medium sized one, and another kind of small one. Not really a good way to end a book.

The last few scenes had taken almost 50 pages, but were a big letdown from the rest of the book. Instead of ending with a bang, the story slowly fizzled out and died. I was so disappointed that I almost wanted to put the story on the shelf and move on. This was the story after all in which I finally found my voice. This was the story with which I felt I would finally be able to get published.

Crap, now what do I do?

I struggled with rewriting it for a day or two, but it wasn't working. I couldn't think of a better way to end it.

So I stopped writing. I did nothing on the story for almost three days. I let the story come to me.

The good news was, that it worked. On the fourth day, I suddenly thought of how the ending should be, and started hacking. I salvaged about half of the 50 pages, but the other half, had to go. You know what they say, sometimes you have to kill your darlings. Those pages were hard fought, but in the end, they had to go.

I finished the new ending today, and it's exactly what was needed. I love it.

So I guess my message is, when the story won't write, add some patience, take a little break, and let the story come to you. Great stories cannot be forced. Sometimes they must be allowed to write themselves.

Have you ever been stuck on a story? How did you resolve it?


  1. 1. Put aside and don't think about it for several weeks
    2. Pull back out, start at the very beginning and read through to the end, making copious notes in the margins about likes/dislikes/ideas/etc
    3. Rewrite, revise, and fall in love with it all over again.

    I can TOTALLY identify with this because I've been there! In fact, my post today on my own blog deals with something similiar...I call it "Captain Obvious" (as in...hey, you've already mentioned this particular point in your novel so move on already!)

    You have a great site, I'll be back.
    Christi Corbett

  2. Congrats! I just experienced the same thing. I was getting to the end of my latest draft, and I was up late last night thinking I could finish. But, as I started to sprint, my writing was only getting worse. So, I went to bed and will approach with a clearer mind today.

  3. I actually had the very same thing happen to me, except it was with my opener. I was reading through it, and all of the sudden I realized that it was absolute drivel. 50 pages in, and I hadn't accomplished a darn thing!!! Unfortunately, I was able to salvage very little of it, so... I sent those pages to the proverbial guillotine... There were tears, but it was for the best. After 1 week of not writing, I came up with a way to start it that I loved. All's well that ends well, they say... :)

    Congrats on finishing!


  4. Just worried the story to death until it fell into place. And suddenly remembering that it is your story, and that you can do what you like with it is very liberating...:-)


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