Thursday, June 27, 2019

Dear O'Abby... Scratch that. Dear Readers.

Dear Readers,

O'Abby here.  This week I need your advice because I'm the one with a writing problem I can't solve. So really hope some of you out there might have some thoughts on what I should do.

I can't finish my book.

This is not something that's ever happened to me before.  Usually I know the ending, or something that resembles an ending right at the start of writing a book.  Even if the first scene I write is somewhere toward the middle of the story.  I even usually write the ending early on in the drafting process so I have somewhere to aim for.

I should add I'm not a plotter or outliner.  Writing the ending is about as much plotting as I do, usually.  But for some reason, I left this unfinished manuscript sitting on my hard drive without an ending.  And now I've filled in all the rest of the missing bits, but still can't figure out how to end it.

To be honest, even if I had written an ending back then, it probably wouldn't fit with the story I've written now.  But on the other hand, maybe if the ending had been there, I wouldn't have written the middle parts the way they've ended up.

The problem I have, is that I've taken everything away from my MC.  Everything he has worked toward throughout the book, everything he believed he needed.  And I don't feel like I can end the book with him at such a low place.  There needs to be some spark of hope for him.  I don't need a happy ending, just something that offers some chance that he might actually manage to find happiness or fulfillment in the future.

There are two women who have been a part of his life over the course of the book and I feel like they need to be part of the ending.  But I can't figure out how to write them in without it feeling forced.  The first woman disappears from the story after about chapter 5 or 6 and is only mentioned again once or twice, but I feel like she's the one who could show my MC a way forward.  But I'm not sure how to re-introduce her in a way that feels natural or organic.

The other woman is more consistently a part of the story, but I don't think my MC would go to her at this point in the story.  Not without someone or something else urging him to.  Things between them have become weird for a number of reasons.

So I'm asking for advice.  What do you do if you can't finish a story?  Are there techniques you use?  Do you put it away and leave it for a few weeks?  Let someone else read it and offer suggestions?

I'm asking for your advice.  Apart from not being able to end it, I love this story and my stupidly messed up characters.  And I want to give them the ending they deserve.  Even if it isn't the ending my MC thinks he wants...

X O'Abby


  1. Sounds great & my suggestion is to consider what the mc needed vs. what they wanted. Typically, you get one, but not both. That gives you a bitter Sweet ending that's memorable. Better yet if you can do it using the character who disappeared. Good luck!

  2. Have you tried rereading the manuscript as a reader? It worked for me when I was struck. I realised a detail I had added in was more than just a side issue. Something like that could nudge that missing element.

  3. What if woman 1 had a baby and woman two is adopting the baby but it has a rare blood type or something and he's needed to donate and she's all, "see, you matter" ?

    I go back and look at my main character's biggest inner demon and make something from that. Or throw an extra line in every chapter so they have a demon I can resolve.

  4. I do two shots, play anime on Netflix, and see what appears on the page.

  5. Get him a new job that gives him something he never realized he wanted in his life. Or if neither of the girls was the answer, do what a sitcom I really love did, and give him an unexpected child to care for, which is again something it turns out he never realized he wanted in his life. Something like that.


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