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Unfinished Drafts

My greatest “sin” as a writer, is never finishing my stories. I have plenty of drafts that I think have a solid foundation, and with the right plot arcs, characters, and strong ending, could become novels I would be more than happy to publish. The issue, as always, is the brick laying of the story that will eventually build a solid house. Much like the first two piggies in the Three Little Pigs tale most of us know so well, it’s much easier and quicker to build a house of straw or wood. But we all know how those ended up.

This is good gif I got nothing

The Process

As a writer, and you’re reading this, perhaps you’re in the same boat. Being a creative type means it’s easy to visualize amazing scenes, fully constructed characters, and a story that is absolutely amazing. In theory. The next step, of course, is to bring that story to life but it’s not as easy or as complete as your mind makes it seem. It requires:

  • Strong introduction (to keep people – and yourself – reading.)
  • Building characters (who aren’t as complete as you thought they were after all. And they don’t listen.)
  • Fully constructed worlds (that are more than just the interior of a house, or a sunlit meadow.)
  • Plots! (Because it’s a story and that’s how they work – mostly.)
  • Strong middle (that one scene where everything was epic! And then someone dies *Gasp*)
  • Wrapping up of story arcs (nothing worse than wondering what happened to everybody else.)
  • Strong finish (Leaving you satisfied both with the story, the direction it went and the epic-ness of it all.)

Only all of these aren’t simple. You have to also consider point of view, setting, world, timeline, sequence of events, dialogue, writing style, if it makes sense, and is it believable (yes even in fiction). And then there’s the process of writing it all out too. Setting time aside dedicated to stringing the words together. Then editing, beta reading, re-writing if necessary, re-editing and then finally bringing it to life in its published format. It’s not easy. It’s not quick. It’s not for the weak.

The Struggle

I am pretending to write something down gif

Most of the time, even before half the book is written, my mind does that flee or fight thing. I either find the whole process tedious, find that the story in my head is not as exciting as I thought it would be, or the the idea in my head and the story I’m writing are not even the same anymore. So I move on to the next idea that pops into my head. Flee.

Other times I push through and write a couple more pages, plot it out again and try to keep the idea going until I have a semblance of what I want. Fight.

A lot of the time, something else pops up and whatever inspiration was fueling my story ebbs and I no longer have an idea where I was was going or what I was trying to achieve with it. Even with research points, story arcs, character interviews and everything else. This is because I’m an emotive writer and if what I’m writing doesn’t “light my fire” well then off to the drafts folder it goes.

The Cheat

Short stories allow me to write that epic scene without the baggage. By that I mean, I don’t have to explain the origins nor the final conclusions of the story. The short story serves a particular purpose and only requires readers to know as much as I need them to know. And it doesn’t have to take 50 000 words or more to do that.

Of course with this, I hurt myself more than I gain. My story is never fully realized and all I have is one scene. More than once I’ve considered expanding a short story into a fully realized novel only for the above mentioned symptoms to take over.


I struggle to keep one idea going. Camp NaNoWriMo has proved that it’s possible, but after I reach my goal it’s like my brain shuts down and even the mere thought of the story (let alone editing it *gasp*) mentally tires me out.

Have you completed a novel? What kept you going through all the ups and downs? What motivates you past boredom, doubt and fear? Because you know what…

writing is hard gif

PS: Rachel, you’re not helping with this: Top Ten Ways to Avoid Writing


About Nthato Morakabi

Nthato Morakabi is a South African published author. He has short stories appearing in both international and local anthologies, and has published his first book, Beneath the Wax, which opens his three-part novella series "Wax". He is an avid reader, blogger and writer.

18 responses »

  1. I know what you mean. Though I have *technically* finished two novels They. Will. Never. See. The. Light. Of. Day. What helps to keep me working on a story is to tell people that I’m busy with it. That way I am accountable (at least in my mind) to finish it. Of course, then I have the series I’m busy with that just keeps on growing… o_O

    Keep writing! 😀 😀

  2. Nathanial Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damned hard writing.” My students would add, ALL writing is hard!

  3. I struggle to complete mine as well. I come up with great ideas but as they grow, they seem to huge to get it all down exactly as I imagine it. I usually flee and move to a new idea or stop writing and just keep building in my head.

  4. I do my best to help all I can. 😛
    But seriously, I’m in the same boat as you. Except my problem is that I finish the first drafts (I think I have about six novels with first drafts completed), but then I can’t edit them. I’ve been stuck on my mystery novel this month. I know what I need to do to get it right, but there’s a lot and I have no idea where to start.

    • Haha I know you do. Your advice is always great Rache. And you’ve done the hard part of writing those novels. But I understand the editing side of it too, I have two NaNo novels I haven’t even touched since writing them. Ugh.

      • It’s so annoying. I hate it when I get stuck like this, lol.

      • I actually wrote this because that’s how I’m feeling right now. I was about to start a new novel and I thought, “Why? You have like 4million drafts!”… and also this was easier to write than edit and existing novel 😛

        I guess all can say is start anywhere and go as far as you can then tackle all the other parts? But… I don’t know. haha.

      • Lol, I usually work on my blog posts when I get stuck on my writing too. I’m still technically “writing,” lol.
        I think I’m going to have my sister read and edit my manuscript. That way I get get someone else to look at it, I can take a break from the novel (I’ve been working on it since November 2013), and I can maybe organize my thoughts and look through the outline and such while I wait for her feedback.

      • Well if you need another pair of eyes, I’m more than willing to help. Like you said in your blog post, if you can’t write reading is the next best thing right?

      • That’s true. 🙂
        I’ll definitely keep you in mind though. I’ll be looking for beta readers in the near future for this novel. 😉

  5. Pingback: Blog Round Up: August 2016 – Rachel Poli

  6. Sometimes I feel like my stories are too big to fit into a short story (though I’ve considered pursuing a novella) and so I put yet another one onto my list of ‘make this a novel at some point’. There are just so many things to write!


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