It may have started as last year’s NaNo project, but I never finish a full novel draft in that narrow time frame. Now, in early February, it’s finally done.
…with the caveat that I didn’t actually write a proper ending, because my impulse decision to write this novel as my NaNo project left me little time to plan. I talked about that in my post about headlight outlining: a plan-as-you-go method that was working well for me, until suddenly it wasn’t. I stand by the optimism of that post despite my issues finishing this draft; it’s not the method’s fault directly that I managed to bungle the pacing of the three major plot lines so that they didn’t intersect neatly near the end, providing a platform to stand on while I wrapped everything up. My romance is moving too slow, and my overarching plot too fast, so it’s basically done before I can tie up the loose ends of the minor characters’ arcs as well as the romance itself.
I “finished” the draft by writing well over a thousand words’ worth of notes about what I already saw as the major problems to fix and where I stood with the various elements of the story. After over a month of chipping away at this project, trying to complete it, I finally admitted that there is no satisfying single ending to the story as it stands, and writing one for the sake of calling the draft done was simply wasting time.
I am still a staunch proponent of “finish the draft” advice, as it relates to having a million incomplete WIPs versus a handful of complete ones; also, I’ve gone through the trenches of trying to write a book through multiple incomplete drafts, and I don’t think it’s beneficial to scrap a draft and start over every time something goes wrong.
But even with that outlook, there can come a point where attempting to complete a draft is a futile exercise. I’ll write an ending for the new, more tightly revised story I’ll shape from what I’ve got so far. I’ll make sure my plot lines cross where they’re supposed to. I’ll establish the main plot line better, earlier on, so there’s a clearer non-romance goal for the characters to work toward.
But I’ll do it all later, because it’s time for me to take a break. I’ve got a major Real Life event coming up in March, and between now and then, I’m going to get ahead on blog posts, write my book reviews, and beyond that, write for fun and explore some new ideas I have. I did Sunday Romance this past week, though the scene is so rough I posted it to Tumblr but not here on the blog–I think I actually want to edit it a little before I do, or possibly not post it at all, because it’s the basis of a fairly complex fantasy idea I’ve had kicking around for a while now, and I’m considering trying to develop it beyond the loose serial format. (Also, this scene is clearly not the beginning of the story, it’s just where my brain was with the concept. I do write from the middle outwards sometimes!)