I have almost finished the first draft of my current young adult novel, Runaway, which is the second in the FLIGHT series and my 14th book. The main character is Sye - a beautiful but troubled dragonkind girl with finely scaled golden skin and wings. She is trying to figure out who she is meant to be, what she is supposed to do with her life since the end of the war. She has a dark past and struggles to be close to people. Then a fearsome creature of legend asks for her help, (well, kind of tricks her into helping him) and they embark on a dangerous quest to the icy north, to Shagrath, the White Kingdom.
I planned this novel for six months, covering the wall of my studio with scene ideas on index cards, a whiteboard with plot stages, numerous A4 sized notebooks on culture, languages, characters and events. I thought I had enough to get me over the line, keep me on track.
But alas! The closer I got to the end the more anxious I became. Because I just couldn't figure out how it ended. That sounds absurd, doesn't it? After all, I'd spent all that time planning the book...
This is nothing new to me. I always reach a moment in the writing of a book where I seriously begin to wonder why I started it! Doubts creep in. But, you know, there are ways around that, so that I can finish the book and be proud of it. Here's my top tips:
1. Sometimes you just need space from your work. Put it aside for a few weeks. Don't think about it, if you can! Sure, if you get a brainwave write it down, but don't agonise over it. Give your brain a chance to think outside the box you have created.
2. Ask for help. I have test readers, marvellous people who read my work and make suggestions, provide feedback and critique. I love it. They see things I can't see. Often, they come up with an idea that just fits perfectly and away I go again!
3. Think of several different endings, no matter how wild. Something will spring from the chaos!
4. Read books of a completely different genre.
5. Watch a TV show that takes you away from your book. Something entirely different.
6. Go for walks and use your phone to dictate thoughts and frustrations. Just by identifying what is not working can sometimes help you realise what needs to change. Walk along the beach, or with the dog at the park etc. Walking helps you think.
So, there are a few of my suggestions! Don't give up! I will go back to Runaway in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have a new book coming out soon with my publisher, Shooting Star Press, https://www.shootingstar.pub/ called Elkwood.
What's it about?
Imagine you find out you are a clone of yourself, that you actually died when you were eight years old! And your clone body is starting to change... You can do things no one else can, but there's a price to pay for using this new power...