Guys, this topic is very important because it happens to me more often than not. We are super excited, we have a new idea, we start writing… we go through a few pages and, then, blank. Nothing more. You start to doubt yourself, feel that this is not the right story. Or it could get worse: you can start to think that is was a horrible idea to even begin with this story writing stuff.
I have a book that I got to page 200 before giving up. I didn’t like it, it made no sense, and, maybe someday I’ll finish it, but for now, it sits there in my folder “stories that I have to finish”. In other words, it’s where the unfinished stories go to die.
So, here are my best tips for starting a story that you can actually finish:
- Make sure you like the theme.
- Don’t rush it. This is one of my worst problems.
- Try to outline it. Just so you have a general idea where you’re heading
- Make sure to analyze if you will really be able to talk about this theme for years if necessary or if it’s just a spark of inspiration
1. Make Sure You Like The Theme… and the idea, and the characters, and the worldbuilding, especially BEFORE you start:
I’m so guilty of this problem. I start with a spark of inspiration, without planning previously enough, and then I write, and write, and write… only to discover that I actually hated that story from the beginning. The spark wears out and I’m left with 50 pages of the tragedies of an old lady’s life… when I don’t even like tragedies! I love comedy!
So, before you go and start typing like crazy, make sure that you got one of the themes that YOU LOVE MOST in your life.
I know I always say this but if you write about the themes that you’re most obsessed about and can’t shut up talking about it, it’s more likely that you’ll get further into the story.
If you get a random theme that seems a good idea at first… maybe it was just a spark of inspiration and your story will sit in the graveyard of unfinished stories after a while. Because you ran out of steam in that theme that you didn’t like that much.
This happens to me with the settings and characters as well. Sometimes, I start to hate the worldbuilding and find all the characters annoying. I try to continue writing but it gets unbearable…
2. Don’t rush it
This comes to my second point. In this capitalist modern world, if you really want to make a full-time income, there are people delivering 4 books A MONTH. Yes, crazy, absolutely insane. But you’ll have to write a lot. Quantity, unfortunately, is beating quality even if you’re going through a traditional route. If you’re self-publishing, this is even worse. The way to quit your job and get a full-time income is to deliver more and more.
And, then, you think: no time to outline. No time to analyze if it’s a good idea. No time to develop the characters. I need to get to writing! 10 thousand words a day, let’s go.
And then you can do it for 3 days.
This was my problem with that story I mentioned above. I was writing 2500 per day only to finish it soon and deliver it.
I couldn’t go any further.
The world was horribly developed. Nothing made sense. It was full of clichés. I hated it all.
So, let me make the mistakes and tell you instead of you making it yourself:
Don’t rush it.
Take your time to outline (at least a little bit) and test your story a bit. Even if you are trying to write a book a month… take ONE DAY to do that, otherwise, you might get to the middle and realize how you despise that story.
3. Try to Outline it
Guys, I bet you think that I’m a plotter freak. That’s not true! I actually am more of a planster. This means that I have a general plan and I don’t really know what will happen every moment of it.
However, I do have to say:
If you outline, you won’t waste time. You already know what is coming. You already know when a character will appear, why he will make sense of the story, and where to put the puzzles. You won’t write a full scene before realizing that it didn’t fit the story!
Even if you HATE outlining, try to at least have a general idea of what happens. Make a simple list of scenes, it doesn’t need to be complex. In this way, you won’t get to the middle and do things as I do:
All right, what is coming next?
And then you are blocked for weeks. Or you realize that you’ll need to change half of the story for it to be able to continue. Or you will see that you haven’t added enough conflict for it to be interesting… and, there you go, write it all over.
I know that you don’t want that.
So: outline. As little as you want. Or as much as you can. Because this will guarantee that you will get to the end of the story.
Check this outlining guide here. It’s an article about outlining step by step.
You can do it. You can learn it. And it will optimize your writing so much. It will help to make sure that you WILL get to the end of your story.
4. Is it a Spark of Inspiration?
Like I told before, can you talk about this theme for years? Imagine, your personal life gets in the way of writing, you can only write 100 words per day, and the book that you thought would take you six months is taking you three years.
Do you love the theme enough to keep going?
Or the theme you chose was only a spark of inspiration that started to wear off?
Think about that before you start writing and I guarantee you that you’ll get to the end of the book if you chose the theme of your life. The thing you could talk about forever.
You can read more about this article here: Why Can’t I Finish Writing A Story. Here I talk about HOW to FIND this theme of your life.