Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thou shalt complete your manuscript ....eventually.....

By Lacey Gunter

Coming up with a great ending is usually the hardest part of writing stories for me. I have been to several conferences where other writers have preached about the importance of finishing your manuscripts, rather than shelving them for a while and moving on to different projects. I understand the wisdom in this advice and usually try to follow it. But sometimes I just have to move on or I will stop writing altogether.

For example, I have this manuscript that is so frustrating. The concept is funny and fresh. Everyone I have shared the idea with so far has thought it sounds hilarious. I know it could be a really funny picture book, but I just can't figure out the ending.

I have mulled over it for hours, played with several ideas and even tried Google searching related scenarios for inspiration and guidance. Still, I am stumped. So there is sits on my window menu bar waiting for lightening to strike.

Meanwhile, I have 3 different monthly critique groups I am expected to share work at. So what choice do I have? Sure, I could just put on a super lame ending and take it to the critique group in hopes of getting some feedback that will lead me to a better ending. But you only get fresh eyes for a manuscript once in a critique group, and I hate wasting those on a crappy ending.

So, instead, I have started and finished 3 new pictures book manuscripts. They all started out as manuscripts to avoiding dealing with the ending on my difficult manuscript, but at least two out of the three have turned out to be pretty good work, and all of them have kept me writing.

So what are your thoughts on the 'finishing what you start' rule? Are there times you make exceptions? Do you have any good techniques for muscling your way through a sticking point?  It may be different for novel writing, but I would still love to hear your ideas and feedback on this topic.


  1. Sometimes when I'm writing and I get to a spot where I feel stuck, I just write, "And then something really great and fascinating happened to move the plot forward," and then just carry on writing whatever came after. For me, sometimes I just don't know what goes in those spots until after I've written what comes after.

    As far as endings go, though...*sigh*. I totally feel your pain. I write for a local magazine and the ends of my articles give me grief every. single. time. I hate endings. A lot.

    If I were you, though, and the rest of the book was great except the end, I would take it to the critique group and just tell them you know the end stinks, and you're open to suggestions. That's what critique groups are for, right?

    Good luck!

  2. Lacey I would personally write something outlandish. For me it helps trick my mind into thinking it's done. Then the creative juices want to flow again. Plus it's sort of fun and takes the pressure off of something so serious.

  3. I've started many things and not completed them. I have finished two big things - a novel I wrote in 1984 and an ebook I published last month. A quote I love (don't know who said it) is "an artist does not finish her work; she abandons it." I have found this to be true - in things I've finished and things I've not!



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