Of all the “writing rules,” this is the one almost every writer breaks.
It’s also the one that will always bite you in the ass if you break it.
If you break this rule, your story will punish you for it. Your plot will fall flat and your ending will fizzle. In fact, you might not even reach the end because your book will have given up on you long before you’re lucky enough to reach that point.
Here’s the rule:
My clients fall across the entire spectrum of writers. I coach people who are writing Memoir, Young Adult, Literary Fiction, Zombie Apocalypse, Paranormal Romance, and everything in between. Almost all of these writers come to me with the same issue. They’ve started their novel but can’t finish it. They don’t know what’s going on or why they’re blocked or what the problem is.
Much of the time these writers are confused. I talked about this in detail in my last post The Number One Reason Writers Give Up. But there is another problem lurking that most writers don’t even think of as a problem.
There are a lot of writers out there who have started writing their novel but never finished it. They tend to beat themselves up for this, believing that the reason they gave up was lack of determination. I’ve worked with enough writers though to know that this is not the case. In fact, I’ve actually never met a writer who lacked determination. Instead, the truth is just a bit more insidious.
Every story is a living thing. Experienced readers know this. But sometimes writers forget it. Sometimes we act like our story is a piece of IKEA furniture, and if we don’t understand where all the screws go right after we get it out of the box, it must be because the product itself is shoddy.
It’s the hidden underside of writing that most writers don’t talk about. None of us relish thinking about it. And all of us wish we never had to deal with it at all. But it’s the shadowy truth that every working writer comes up against at some point in his or her career.