When I was in the final days of writing my novel, Dead Sleep, I found myself struggling. I knew almost exactly what I needed to write — the tone, the setting, the ending for my characters. Only problem was that I couldn’t sit down at my keyboard and actually do it.
When one of my beta readers called me on it, I realized I didn’t want my characters’ stories to end. My protagonist, Jackson — him and I were so similar and here I was ending his story in the book. Would that end mine as well? Would this be it? One book and then I’m done writing? What about the other characters — Kristina, Doug and Donnie? What about them?
I didn’t want to finish because at least in my mind, their stories would go on forever. Once I put it on paper, it was finite. There was an end.
I really struggled with it. I had gotten used to these characters and had grown along with them. I remember a number of times when I was creating them and their back-stories, that I physically teared up and became emotional for the things I was doing to them. How could I put an end to their adventures?
What my beta-reader told me was I was doing them more of a disservice by allowing it to linger. Those characters would never meet the public if I never finished their story. They could never spark the imagination of another person like they did for me. And besides, wouldn’t I want to finish to give them the ending they really deserve and then start in on their next story?
After a few weeks of pecking at the final few pages, I knocked it out in just a couple days at that point. I published and I couldn’t be happier.
I won’t say I’m over it though. Each story I sit down to write is difficult because their lives are infinite in my mind, stretching across the universe with any number of different scenarios. The trick is to figure out which of those scenarios work and commit.
Commit to your characters and their story will come. Just make sure that it gets put on paper and finished.