Finish your freakin’ novel. Here’s why

I’ve often been asked by aspiring authors if they should send three sample chapters to a publisher and try to get a contract that way.

Alarm bells.

If that’s what the publisher is asking for,  by all means send them sample chapters. Always give them exactly what they want. That’s, ‘How to be an Author, 101’.

BUT

If you’re thinking of only writing three chapters and NOTHING more, think again.

PLEASE.

I’ve hung out with plenty of writers. One in particular springs to mind. She was really, REALLY talented. (Damn her.)

But her third novel got rejected. Repeatedly.

So she spat the dummy. She declared she would never write another book without a contract. From now on she would only write sample chapters.

WTF?

In her defence, Ms X had already written two novels and seen them through.

Still. I think she had a dodgy plan. Don’t writers, um, write books?

Unlike Ms X, trying to build a career based entirely on sample chapters is even more risky if you’ve never written an entire novel. Like, not once.

Ever.

You have to finish at least one book because… you have to finish!

You have to experience what it’s like to see it through. It’s the only way you’ll gain confidence and knowledge.

You have to experience the technicalities of finishing a novel before you can claim to have the slightest clue about what you’re doing.

Seeing it through, constructing a satisfying ending, will crack open your brain.

You’ll be stunned by how much you didn’t know, and so proud you had the courage and tenacity to push on and see it through.

Endings are hard. Tricksy. Full of pitfalls, booby traps. Tunnels stuffed with giant spiders.

Okay. Forget the Tolkien analogy. Here’s a horsey one.

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Writing half a book is like a racehorse bolting around the track.

Then stopping halfway.

Mr Horse says, ‘Stuff this. I’ve proven I can run.  I’ll just go eat some grass and wait for the golden cup.’

Pretty stupid, huh?

If you want to write novels you must understand the entire process is a learning curve. From the start, to the murky middle, to the end.

Writing novels is experiential. You don’t master it, you don’t understand it, until you do it. All of it.

Don’t be seduced by the easy out of sample chapters.

Trust me. You’ll feel ten feet tall when you finish your book.

It’s the best feeling.

The Best.

And everyone wants to feel a little taller.

Don’t they?

Jen xo


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