Finish what you start

Apologies for the long hiatus. Between taking a well earned break from writing during National Novel Writing Month, the holidays, my Hufflepuff themed tumblr newsletter and the job hunt (or at least the search for a second job.), life’s been a little hectic. But it is a new year, and if my boss continues to keep me hovering around 20-ish hours, I have no excuses for not updating this blog more often.

Last week, for the first time, I decided to combine two of my nanowrimo novels into one Scrivener file, which was no easy feat, considering that Scrivener for Windows has yet to have the Mac version’s ability to combine projects. Anytime you combine two stories, whether it’s to make one larger novel, or to keep multiple novels in one place, it’s exhausting and daunting.

Exhausting because merging two stories together into one file isn’t easy. If you’re not using a sophisticated writing program like Scrivener, you may skip over the exhuastion and go straight to feeling overwhelmed and daunted by the task of making two story lines make a lick of sense.  This past year I wrote, for all intents and purposes of NaNoWriMo, the next story in the Myth of the Metals story.

I stored this story in a separate Scrivener project file so that I could get an accurate word count for the nano site and to have it properly validated to prove that I did, in fact, write 50K this year. With no fancy project combining feature, I first tried importing the files individually from the project folder. Unfortunately, the file names were random numbers, and numerical order did not appear to promise that the files were in chronological order. After figuring this out, I resorted to the tried and true method and dragging and dropping, which ended up working.

But none of this work is going to mean anything if I can’t even finish the drafts. I’ll have some better luck finishing the first book, since I’ve now written the second book, which has given me some sense of where I can neatly sign “the end” and call the novel done. The second one? I’m not so certain. And that’s often the tricky thing about first drafts. Unless you’ve outlined your entire novel,  the end of the first draft often feels like this nebulous place at the end of your story – you know it has to exist, it’s there somewhere, the problem lies in that finding the end is a lot like feeling around in the dark and you can’t see anything, not even your hands in front of your face.

The solution may seem like going back and tightening what you already have, but your story needs to end somewhere. If your in the midst of the conflict of your story the last thing you want to do is end mid-stream. Resolve your conflict. It may be a draft but even an incomplete draft will leave you guessing if you don’t have a beginning and an end. Nothing will make your editing process easier than knowing where your story starts, and where your story ends.

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