When I was five years old I wrote my first story. It was about the chicken pox I had at the time. My body didn’t react well to the disease, but my mind grew bored and so I started writing. My dad is a writer, so I suppose at the time I was only following by example.
Since then I’ve written a lot. Two decades of writing. I feel old until I think of how many decades I have left to write and that’s pretty awesome. As we write we share a part of ourselves that we can only express through prose. We connect with a lot of people and share our thoughts on our crafts. I’ve received a lot of great advice from people who have been doing this far longer than I, and there are many phrases that have stuck with me and come to mind over and over again as I’m thinking out my next chapter or paragraph.
My favorite, by far, is this:
“The worst thing you can do to a character is not finish their story.”
I’m probably paraphrasing. The message, though, has stuck: Don’t leave a character sitting there. Don’t leave a story unfinished. They’re waiting for you, their creator, to give them purpose. Kill them off if you must, but give them a conclusion.
It’s a huge motivator. I don’t want to leave my characters in some sort of imaginary waiting room, wondering what happens next. I have a lot of stories on the back burner, but I hope to finish them all at least someday.
Had you heard this one before? What do you think? What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?