Don’t you dare finish that.

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One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever read (and of course can’t remember to  site the source) was if you needed to stop writing for any reason to NOT FINISH THE SCENE. Or if you happen to be at the end of a scene to go on and write whatever is going to happen in the next couple sentences.

I cannot tell you how much this has saved me. Over and over again as I put a WIP down to handle life and then come back to it, I’ve consistently seen that the stories I have stopped in mid thought are easier to pick back up again. For instance, I have a WIP titled The Blood Pits where I very stupidly left off my heroine at the opening of the doors to the arena where is doesn’t know what she will be facing or if she’ll even come out alive.

Yes, there is story there, what will happen to her? What is on the other side of the door? A ton of different things are possible but because I ended that scene where I did, at a conclusion, I haven’t been able to get back into it in nearly 3 months. I even took the time to draw out the scene but again, it feels ended, the momentum has stopped in that story right now.

My current WIP Midnight in the Hollows which I’m writing for NaNoWriMo I’ve been very, very careful to make sure I end off in the middle of scenes, actually, most times in the middle of a sentence. Each time I go back to it, I’m able to pick up the threads and continue weaving. It’s as if, by ending -or not ending- where I do my train of thought is easier to catch back up to. There’s an opening for me to start in.

I can’t explain it or even quote what I’m sure is a more elegant post than this one but if you’re finding yourself having a hard time collecting those threads of thought, getting back into your story and you have the habit of completing a scene or chapter, stop doing it.

Leave it off in the middle of a sentence, a phrase, a word, a description. Don’t even finish writing a full word! Whatever it is, don’t you dare finish and see if next time you come back to it if it’s easier to get into the groove again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on finishing or not finishing a scene/chapter etc. Do you have a hard time picking the pieces back up when you complete one? Do you already use this method of leaving your story open? Do you know where the heck I read that tip at?

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4 responses »

  1. I think you might be right here, Crystal. When I was doing NaNo the last two years, every time I sat down to write, I would write a whole chapter. But doing ROW80, there’s no telling where I’ll stop. If it’s a love scene, I can’t stop in the middle. I just CAN’T. But I’ve definitely stopped in the middle of other scenes, and it does seem to be easier to pick it back up.

  2. Huh, that’s really interesting. I’d never heard of that before but it sounds totally accurate to me. Easier to continue with a ball already rolling than to pick up another ball. I’m gonna have to incorporate this into my writing process. Thanks so much for the advice!

  3. I’ve heard that before too but can’t remember where either. I don’t stop mid sentence or word but I do like to stop mid scene as often as I can. But like Lauralynn I can’t stop in the middle of love scene.

    As for chapters, I don’t create them until after the first (sometimes second) draft is done which is something I picked up from the Marshell Plan.

  4. Little bit late on this one, but I do believe you are on to something there. I have never thought of it in those terms, and probably do a little bit of both naturally. Although that is more because I write late at night and often just fall asleep midway through a sentence… ok once or twice even midway through a word.

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