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 

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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?