Don’t hold back. Go for the big finish. And most of all, don’t be afraid.
I give this advice to people, but I have a really hard time following it. I am definitely one who holds back.
One of the things I’ve always done–and it’s one of the reasons that I had so many unfinished books before Prom Dates From Hell–is struggled with holding something back. If I have some big, huge idea, I have a tendency to hold back from it, to “save” it. For when I’m a better writer. For when I’m more established/famous/best-selling. For later in a series, for later in the book…
All those hypotheticals are about fear. Fear I’ll peak too soon, or leave myself nowhere to go, or no way to top it. But the biggest fear of all, of course, is that I’ll blow it somehow. That I won’t execute it properly, that it will seem hokey/stupid/silly/over the top. Or that my skills aren’t up to the task.
But when it comes to writing, the stakes have to be high. For your characters, and for yourself as a writer. You’re always trying to achieve that next step up on the figurative podium, whether it’s your first sale, your first award, or your first best seller. So commit to the big ideas, and throw your heart into them.
When I say “go big or go home” I mean within the scale of your story. “Big” can mean the scale of your fantasy battle, your villain’s villainy, or your heroine’s heartbreak. You have nothing to lose by committing fully. You should never hold back from your readers, or from your best writing–it’s not fair to your readers, or to yourself. Write every book as if you have nothing to lose.
And somehow, you’ll always think of something just as big for the next one.