Fixing The Novel

Rob Parnell
4 min readDec 29, 2023


Last couple of days I’ve been trying to fix the end of a novel I’ve been working on. I’m tired and frustrated because I keep thinking everything will repair itself by magic. Trouble is, I know in my heart that’s not going to happen and I’m getting depressed knowing that I will have to approach the ending with a lot more focus and concentration.

The whole thing is silly because I know that’s all I have to do: FOCUS, but I can’t bring myself to work properly and I guess it’s out of fear. Partly fear of knowing I’m almost at the end, therefore the wonder of creation will soon stop. But also fear of the amount of work I’ll have to put in to make the ending work well.

Sometimes this just happens. Pleasure becomes work and you just have to grit your teeth and get on with the graft. (It’s what a lot of us have to do every day from 9 to 5.)

It’s annoying because I’ve enjoyed writing all of the chapters up to this point. About 70,000 words have been fun. But now I realize that the ending won’t work unless I add/edit/rewrite about 10,000 words, make sure everything is in the right order and all the character arcs are resolved.

So this is what I’ve decided to do:

Two things.

ONE. Character Arcs.

I have made a list of all the principal characters and written a one sentence description of how their story completes at the ending of the book. There are about a dozen character arcs I need to resolve in this last section. Daunting enough but at least it’s something to be getting on with and I’m not tearing my hair out and sobbing because I can’t think of anything else to do.

TWO. Plotting Again

I have lots of short sections at the end that I knew I would have to return to and sort out. Some of the events are in the wrong order and some linking scenes are not there at all at the moment. I’ve decided the best way forward with the last three or four chapters is to number the sequences and, on a separate sheet, reorder the paragraphs into the most logical flow. That way I can see what I have and also, what I don’t have.

All I need now is to choose a time when I can raise the necessary enthusiasm to do these two activities. That’s the sticking point.

Because the other problem I have is what I call “fiction fatigue”. Basically I’ve had enough. Getting to grips with the end of the story yesterday afternoon for instance, I kept falling asleep and when that wasn’t happening I had a niggling sense that reading back what I already had was simply too hard.

I’ve spent probably four or five months writing this story — not including the years of misfires before this point — and really, I want it to be over. But I can’t be bothered to work on it — even though I know that if I don’t I may put it down and not touch it again for another age. Neither of which I want. Catch 22: I want to finish the story but I don’t want to do the work to make that happen!

I’m sure all of this sounds petty and stupid, especially to a non writer who would likely be thinking, What’s the problem, ya big pussy, stop complaining, and get on with it!

And I probably will.


I just wanted to write this piece first so that when a similar circumstance happens to you, you will know you’re not alone. It’s all part of the process.

Over the years — and the novels — I’ve discovered this point comes every time. There is always a period during which the novel is nearly done but there are niggling things to do, subplots to tidy up, scenes to link, characters to develop or delete. To be honest it’s my least favorite time and leaves a sour taste in my mouth at the end of every novel I complete.

Trouble is, unless I push through this process, this story is never going to see the light of day and get read.

I’m starting to believe that the writing process is something wonderful to begin and that allowing your stories to develop and become real is the fun part. But that ending, tidying and polishing is the nasty part. The work part.

Ah well, the sooner I get to grips with the ending the better.

I want the finale of the novel to be satisfying and make sense and I can’t do that until the story lives up to my own nitpicky standards. I have to be sure the resolutions are all logical and smart. I’m sure I’ll get there.

By the way, the novel is a thriller called HERESY. So, if you see it on sale soon you’ll know I got past this angst and completed the book to my satisfaction.

If you don’t see the book anywhere or I never mention it again, it’s probably in my bottom drawer.

Thanks for reading, And wish me luck.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell’s Writing Academy



Rob Parnell

Bestselling Author and Owner of Rob Parnell’s Writing Academy