Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Keep Moving Forward by Marie Wells Coutu

It’s the universal writerly problem: finishing.
Marie Wells Coutu


Several blogs and posts recently have dealt with how to finish that novel. A writer friend and I commiserated recently over how hard it seems to be to get to “The End.” Many author friends celebrate on Facebook when they get to type those words on their work-in-progress.


The temptation is to keep tweaking the beginning until it’s perfect. Perhaps we get feedback from critique partners, contest judges, potential or contracted agents, reader friends, spouses, or our children. We take that feedback and rework the chapter or section in question. But we can’t seem to move forward.


In Story Trumps Structure, best-selling author Steven James says, “The opening scene to your novel will likely be the last one you hone.” He says don’t worry about the opening line or paragraph or chapter until you have written the end of the book. After you have written the ending, you may realize that you have discovered something about your story that changes the way it opens. “If you know the ending of a story,” James says, “you’ll know the beginning, but if you know the beginning, you won’t necessarily know the ending.”

Keep Moving Forward

I told my friend (and myself) to “keep moving forward.” You can always go back once the draft is completed to make those changes suggested by your critiquers. By that time, you’ll have a better idea of which suggestions to incorporate and which ones just don’t work for your story.


So, as difficult as it is to ignore the changes you want to make, do. Keep moving forward. Some writers begin their writing day by reviewing and revising what they wrote the day before. That’s fine, if you like to do that. But don’t go further back than yesterday’s work. Keep a running list of other potential changes, but move forward to work on the next section. When that draft is finished, then review the list and make those changes in the next draft.


That’s my best advice for finishing your novel: Keep Moving Forward. Backing up will never get you to “The End.”



About the author


About the Author

Marie Wells Coutu began telling stories soon after she learned to talk. At age seven, she convinced neighborhood kids to perform a play she had written. She wrote her first book, “I Came from Venus,” in eighth grade, but studied journalism in college. After a career writing for newspapers, magazines, governments, and nonprofits, she returned to her first love—writing fiction—at the age of fifty-five. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the Mended Vessels series, released in April 2015. Books in the series are contemporary re-imaginings of the stories of biblical women, including Esther and the woman at the well. Marie retired after 15 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and she and her husband now divide their time between Florida and Iowa.

Connect with Marie 

Website
Facebook Author Page

Thirsting for More
by Marie Wells Coutu

Thirsting for More


Northern transplant Victoria Russo moves to the charming southern city of Charleston, South Carolina, from cold Connecticut, hoping to renovate her career, her life, and an old house. Instead, she faces animosity, betrayal, and calamity. Will she repeat the pitfalls of her past mistakes, or find the freedom and restoration she seeks?

8 comments:

  1. Nice interview. I agree with Marie about her writing structure...if I back-tracked I'd never get done. Of course I have a critique partner that walks most of the chapters with me, but moving forward is always best. Your book Thirsting for More, looks like a good read, Marie. We lived in SC and I too wrote about the charming city so many people enjoy. God Bless you and your writing as you share from your heart~

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    1. Thank you, Diane! Backtracking is part of the writing process for most of us, but we have to limit it, don't we. I hope you check out Thirsting for More and enjoy it. I'm going to look up your books set in Charleston. Love the city.

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  2. I'm a notorious edit-as-I-go writer. I do finish, but I know I must try harder to break that habit so it's easier to finish. Thanks for the encouragement, Marie.

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    1. Glad to help, Sandy! Keep working at it. You've already finished several books and short stories, so you're well on the way. 8-)

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  3. So true! I heard a lecture once on NEVER start by re-reading the stuff you wrote yesterday. Start the next page first thing. Um, I rarely do that, though. Great post and good reminders, Marie!

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    1. Tanya, I've heard other experts say to always start your day by going over what you wrote the day before! I think everybody has to figure out what works for them. I don't usually read any of my previous stuff unti I need to refer to it for consistency. 8-)

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  4. Boy, I really struggle with not editing as I write. But, I now try to push myself to just keep going, cause it's true. If you never stop editing, it takes FOREVER to reach "the end." And reality is, there's always a lot of additional editing to do anyway. ;-)

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    1. So true, Dawn! It's taken me awhile (and I do still sometimes edit as I write) but knowing there's always another chance (or 3) to edit once I've reached The End helps me to keep going! So keep going!

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