A lesson along the way

I officially cracked 40,000 words on my NANWRIMO project The Johnson Farm today. The real count is closer to 45,000 (I transcribe yesterday’s stuff from my notebook before I write today’s new stuff. It helps me engage in the new writing).

I am closing in on the end; that is to say that I can mostly see my way to the end of the plot for this one. I hit one and only one serious difficulty in the middle (I ignore the usual question of “how do I get to the ending?” It’s expected).

I have a point of view character and his dad and two uncles to cope with as main characters (don’t worry there are good female characters, my hero just doesn’t have a beef with any of them). I found myself feeling like I needed to tie up all of their problems by the end of the story.

Then, I remembered that I really don’t have to tie it all up. Just like real people John’s dad and uncles have had thirty plus years to accumulate all that baggage, and there is  no way I could possibly handle all of that in the time frame of the novel. If I did try to tie it all up in one novel it would make the old testament look like a short story.

I only have to worry about tying up those problems, or parts of problems, that get me to the resolution of this story.

Some of the other problems may never be resolved in word or in fact. This reflects real life. You can’t get them all fixed in a week! You might never get them all.

Leaving some things unresolved helps your story to be more in the realm of the real than in the sanitized world of sitcoms and modern fairy tales. It also opens up your options for a sequel. I’m not planning one at this point, but if I do one I have naturally occurring source material to start with.

Because the brothers still have things to work through I have a natural starting point for a next one. That means I don’t have to invent things to start the next one.

My characters are also developing history, not all of which is or will be revealed in this story. This helps build that resource base for sequels and opens up the opportunity for naturally occurring prequels (hate the term but as a writer I like the idea…).

The bottom line for today dear reader is:

Trust your process.

Trust your story.

And, don’t worry about trying to tie up all of the loose ends.

It’s reality and it gives you options for later.

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