One of our most pleasant experiences of late was an opportunity to sit down with a girl just a year out of high school to discuss a fantasy book she wants to publish in memory of her grandmother. With feet tapping and fingers twitching, she sat across from us nervously waiting to hear what we thought of the sample chapter she’d brought into us.

It had to be agonising for her. She wanted to find out if she has what it takes to make writing her lifetime occupation. Her round eyes shifted back and forth between Lyn and I, hoping her dreams weren’t going to be dashed to the ground. I was impressed with her courage.

I was even more impressed with her writing. The plot and characters were well thought out. The pace of the story was perfect. When the chapter ended, I was hooked. I wanted to keep reading. Lyn felt the same (that’s huge when you consider that Lyn isn’t a big fan of dragon stories).

As we expressed our wonderment at just how good her work was, especially for one so young, her eyes lit up and she blew a breath of relief. We’d given her the validation she sought. Her eyes danced. After a few moments of processing everything, she blurted out, “What do I have to do to get published?”

Naturally, the first question we asked was, “Is your book finished?” It wasn’t. We then asked, “How much more do you have to complete?” She had no idea. She had yet to plan an ending because she was still unfolding the story and she didn’t want to stifle the flow.

This sounds fair, but it is a trap that writers often fall into. If there is no ending planned, the book you want to produce becomes a never-ending story. Your fabulously inventive mind will just keep adding episode after episode, this is true regardless of genre.

Additionally, in order to create a coherent ending, you need to structure your entire manuscript from the beginning. Without structure, not only will the ending be incohesive, but the middle will be just a hodgepodge of randomness, never a good thing to have in a book you want to be well read after its publication.

We explained these things to her and finished with the most important piece of advice that can be given to a person writing a book, “Finish the book.”

It sounds trite, doesn’t it? However, you’d be amazed at the number of writers that expend the bulk of their energy worrying about editing, marketing, publication, royalty checks and how to invest their proceeds long before they’ve finished their books.

From start to product, getting a book out into the world is a long process. If you want to birth a book, you must accept this from the start and commit to doing one action at a time. The very first process being to write your book. Don’t dream, fret or consider anything else until you have a finished manuscript in your hand.

Our young writer nodded and promised to finish her book by June, so we can guide her through the next phases. I hope she does. She’s greatly talented, and I have no doubt that she could be a full-time author if she takes the process step by step and perseveres.

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