How I Finished a Novel

‘The door swung open, banging loudly into the wall behind it. Hagar winced… then, she clamped her mouth shut. Standing below her… was Elaine.’

Image Source: Eleanor Braham

Recently, I published my debut novel on Amazon: Elaine, a thriller and psychological suspense. Uploading it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. After ten months of ideas and hard work, I was about to complete the rewarding process of writing by sending my story out into the world. Here is how I did it…

I thought carefully about what I might want to happen in my story. From the start, I had a basic plot outline, but chose not to limit myself by having a strict plan. I liked to spontaneously include new things, to allow my story to unfold naturally. At the closing of your draft, it is vital to completely finish your story, and to know that you have made it the best that it can possibly be. You’re going to send it out into the world, so you need to be happy with what people will be reading! Once I’d finished my first draft, I took a break for a few months before I went back and edited it. Don’t be afraid to make plot changes, or even to delete and rewrite whole sections of your story if you think it is necessary. Give yourself breaks between redrafting, so that you look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.

The creative process is incredibly rewarding, but that isn’t to say it is never difficult. There were moments when I felt as though I should write, but felt too tired to. The immediate answer was don’t. I never wrote unless I felt that I had the energy to create something that I would be happy with. Nor did I ever tell myself that I had to write a certain amount of words per day. There were days when I would write 10,000 words, and days when I couldn’t write more than 500. That’s okay! Your writing has to be natural to make it the best it can be. If you only want to write a loose outline of a chapter, don’t force yourself to do more. You can come back to it later.

Not only this, but unless you feel that setting aside a time to write each day works, don’t do it. Some writers prefer ensuring that they write something every day, at a particular time, others don’t. I am one of the latter. Sometimes I wrote in the morning, sometimes all day with breaks, and other times just in the afternoon. Other days, not at all! Once I’d finished writing one section, I would often plan in my head the scene which I wanted to unfold later. That way, I knew what I wanted to say by the time I sat in front of my laptop again. Again, this is not necessary, it is just what worked best for me. Writing, in my opinion, is only rewarding when I am in the correct headspace for it, otherwise it can feel draining.

Think about the kind of people that you want your characters to be and let them grow. It’s okay for them to be slightly different people by the end of the book, that’s what humans do! We grow and we change. Just don’t write them doing or saying something which makes no sense with their personality. You need your readers to find them believable, otherwise they lose faith in your story. Think about your audience carefully. Who do you want your readers to be? Try to write to match this, or alternatively, finish your story and decide who it would work best for, but always keep your audience in mind.

Ask someone else to read your work. Seriously, it is much better to hear criticism from someone who cares about you, rather than from a lot of people who don’t. Writers tend to get so wrapped up in their story, that they often don’t realise when something doesn’t make sense, or just isn’t believable. Ask a family member or a friend who isn’t afraid to be honest with you. Choose them carefully though. Don’t ask someone to read it, if you know that they intentionally find fault in everything, or if they don’t find fault with anything at all. You need someone who’s opinions you are confident in. When they give you constructive criticism, don’t take it personally. Listen to what they are saying and try to take it on board. It might make your story even better!

I wish the best of luck to any fellow creatives who are thinking about writing a novel, have just started, are halfway through or who are even about to finish, keep writing!

Eleanor Braham

Eleanor’s novel is available on Amazon now

Featured Image Source: bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

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