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The Finishers Club

I haven’t always been a plotter. Technically, I’m still not. But I have always spent a long time letting stories form in my head. The first book I ever wrote formed itself over years and, surprisingly enough, started with math. My fifth graders that year hated it, but they gobbled up stories. So I did what any teacher would do—I turned the math into fantastical situations that explained, say, negative and positive numbers. Their story-wired brains gobbled them up, then I could casually explain how the math was connected and they did that, too, mostly without complaint. Over the year, they asked for more and more stories from that world, and my brain started weaving it into something bigger... or at least trying to.

It was five years before I joined the Finishers Club. I was pregnant with my second child and thought, “If I don’t finish writing this book before the baby is born, I literally never will.” Many writing sessions at Panera later, I did. It was hard and—let’s be real—the book wasn’t very good even though I had been writing it for five years. Sure, it had it’s moments. But good? No. Definitely not.

The next book I wrote wasn’t much better, but it didn’t take me five years or the threat of a new baby to finish it. Then I wrote another and another. By the time I wrote Jala and the Wolves, I had learned quite a bit, mostly about what it took for me to be a finisher. And, not to toot my own horn but, let me tell you, finishing a story is a big deal. A really big deal. Even the story isn't great. Even if you’d never try to publish it, the first step is finishing. So when the people at the New Orleans Writers Workshop asked me if I would teach a class, I knew that’s what it had to be about. Finishing is where it all begins.

So, here you go! A class all about what parts you need to know so that you, too, can finish your novel.

*I write for children, so all our examples will be middle-grade and YA, but honestly, the principles apply no matter what kind of stories you write.


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