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How to Finish Your Novel

I’ve lost count of how many times, usually while at a convention like I was the weekend of MCBA Fall ComiCon in St. Paul, Minnesota, where someone mentioned to me that they too are a writer but have yet to complete one of their ideas.

I tend to offer the same advice in these situations, that I was also an idea-driven person without the ability to execute my ideas to fruition and complete a story, but what saved me…was fanfiction.

I think fanfiction lends itself to seeming easier than original fiction because there’s less pressure, you don’t necessarily have to build a world from scratch, so you can sit back and enjoy yourself more and let the story progress organically without that feeling of—this is entirely mine and I am solely responsible for it and everything someone might think of it.

Now, I don’t agree with that entirely, I think fanfiction and original fiction are only different because of content origin—everything else is just as important and worthwhile and wonderful—but the fact that it feels easier and freer and more fun is why I still write fanfiction today. It’s a vacation for me.

I was a young writer, struggling to fully realize any of my concept, so at first, I started with one-shot fanfics, i.e. short stories. Then I started to progress to chapter fics, amazed at how much easier it was to see an idea through to the end. From there, just finishing a novel-length story once gave me the confidence and drive to do it again and again, and I’ve never had trouble since.

Not to say I never have writer’s block, but if a story grabs me and the idea takes hold enough for my fingers to fly across the keyboard, I absolutely will eventually finish that idea, usually even longer than the typical 50-60k word length (I’m getting better at creating more concise novels with practice, though I know many of my fans love that I have epically long novels as well).

So, really my advice comes down to keep trying, but also, I’m once again being an advocating voice for fanfiction. If you just can’t seem to get any ideas flushed out fully, written from start to finish, no matter how much you plot and daydream, start small with finishing even just a short story, and also consider delving into fanfiction where you might have an easier time completing an idea before switching to the larger world-building of your own universes.

Like with everything else, finishing a novel takes practice, but you can get better over time.

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