Thanks for hanging with me this far! So I know you are all eager to learn the next stage. And I'm happy to see that some of you agree with me that writing can be just like a relationship!
Stage Four: The Break Up
Now this is broken into two sections. Sadly, one where you have to end the relationship with a novel because you can’t overcome the rut and one where –sadly you have to break up with your novel because IT’S FINISHED!
Subheading: When Enough is Enough
Like some relationships there are just things you can’t get passed. It could be the rut, you’ve lost touch with your novel, you’ve grown apart and you’ve fallen out of love. It happens, all the time. It’s okay, it sucks, but you can get passed this. You’ve done all you can, assuming you’ve tried couple’s counselling, tried to re-spark the fire and you’ve tried deleting words until you can get back on track.
Maybe you’ve had a scene stealer, you added in a new supporting character, a friend, or otherwise but they’ve take over your novel, your life and a ruined things. This happens too, sometimes you, or your partner have gotten wandering eye syndrome. You’ve acted out of impulse and... Cheated!
Sometimes this is the end of the novel, but not the end of your ideas. Sometimes a break-up can lend a hand to something bigger and greater. Not all break-ups are bad. Sure someone always gets hurt but it could just be the solution. Your scene stealer has given you a new idea, and even better one and you can move on and start a new relationship. Or not.
The proverbial trunk is where novels sometimes go to die. If you just can’t finish, writing has become work and you can’t move passed the rut, or the scene stealer put your novel away, end the relationship and move on.
Relationships go through break-ups same as novels, for whatever reason, you have to go your separate ways. But just because you’ve ended things doesn’t mean its forever. I have novels in the trunk, a file on my computer where I’ve had to break things off and move on, but every so often I go into that folder, pull open a file and read it. Often times the novel goes right back in, I’m not eager to forget the character I added to help things only to have them ruin the novel so much we’ve broken up. But sometimes, with that separation (like in the rut stage) you can come back, realize what’s been missing and get back into things and work them out. You’ll find yourself back in that oh-so-great honeymoon stage and bam! You finish the novel. One more notch on the old belt.
But the point is; you need to be able to let a novel go. Sometimes tormenting yourself into finishing it just isn’t worth it. Your writing, characters, voice, plot can suffer and you might lose the love of writing forever (but most likely not)
Just remember, there are always new fish in the sea. Go back, try on some new shirts, or be single for awhile until that right novel ideas comes by and you’re able to start this process all over again. But don’t give up. Nobody likes the crazy cat lady that lives next door, and neither will you if you become her/him. Most writers just can’t live alone. They need the relationship of a novel to get through life.
Subheading: The Ending You Always Wanted
However you managed it, you’ve completed a novel. Give yourself a pat on the back and some warm fuzzies. You’ve just done something that hundreds of people set out to do every day but often times don’t complete. Whether this is your first, second, tenth or twentieth novel the process is always the same, but finishing it is what’s the most important.
Now you have to break up with your novel and move on. Maybe break up isn’t quite the right word, but you do have to move on.
The next step is editing, of course, but we will save that for another day. For now, grab some tissues, a bottle of champagne, chocolates, whatever comforts you and celebrate. You’re not done yet, this novel still needs work, but take a break, take a load off and relish in the fact that you’re done.
It might be hard to move on. Being alone after being in a relationship can be quite a shock. Take it slow, take a break, read some novels and get back on the horse when you are ready. Some novels are stand-aloner's, you’ve told their story and that’s it.
However, maybe you’ve left your characters in a bit of a cliffy. You know what that means don’t you? A sequel. The steps will be the same, you might have to spend a little time being single, a little time dating and can get right into the thick of things, enjoy the honeymoon and finish another novel.
Sequels aren’t the only way to resurrect characters that you love, there are prequels and spin-offs—where you bring back the scene stealer or friend and torment them into producing you a new novel.
So, I may be crazy, I’ve read through this a dozen times, it completely makes sense to me, and proves (to me, again) that novels are just like relationships. You always need to set out with an idea, an outline—everyone starts out single, it’s just the way the world works. Often times you have to date, turn your ideas into more concrete thoughts and actions—choosing the right characters, voice, setting, and plot. Eventually marriage happens—you need to write a novel, but it takes effort and love. And sadly, at some point or another all good things come to an end—trunking a novel or finishing it.
Now for the sake of expanding on two huge points in writing—Plot and Editing—I’ve glossed over these. Yes they are important, they tend to come with outlining, or when you finish a novel, but that’s a whole other day’s work, so trust me, we will come back to these. You can’t have a finished novel without plotting and editing.
Also, because I admit I came up with this idea randomly, with not much forethought, I’m not naive enough to think I’m the first and only person that has compared writing to relationships. I’d like to say that anyone who’s compared these two things is a genius in their own right and, well, of course, great minds do think alike.