1. AllThingsMagical
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    AllThingsMagical Member

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    Can't finish what I start

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AllThingsMagical, Aug 13, 2011.

    Does anyone ever spend ages planning out a story idea they've had but then as soon as they're a few chapters into it get bored?

    This has just happened to me - again. It's starting to bug me a little that I can't see to finish anything I start. My current work in progress is only two chapters long and is something I've been working on for a few years. But now I've started writing it I'm having doubts about the style and perspective - like I'm wondering if it would be a better story if written in third rather than first person and if the main storyline would be better as a sub-plot so that one of the current sub-plots could take its place.

    I think I'll probably end up changing it again but I'm sort of worried as soon as I start working on the newer version I'll get bored and want to change it again. So I was just wondering firstly if anyone else ever has this problem and secondly what you do about it. Anything vaguely helpful would be appreciated. Thanks :)
     
  2. zeal
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    zeal New Member

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    What you've described is almost exactly the same problems I have (the first person/third person thing is something I'm currently experiencing). I've started countless amounts of stories but never get past the second or third chapter. I find that when I write a detailed plot outline so I know exactly what to write in each chapter or section of my story, I tend to get "bored" a bit slower, though there have been times when I write just for writing's sake so I can wrap up a story I've lost interest in.
     
  3. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Sounds like you didn't make good use of your planning time if you're running into elementary problems like this.

    Selecting a point of view boils down to how close you wish to be to your character and his thoughts.

    Regarding plot, ideally you should know how the story ends before beginning. It will save you a lot of time. From there, it is just a matter of creating the requisite number of scenes in order to make the ending credible.

    So you may find it helpful to create a scene list. This is what I do, and I find it works very well. List all of the scenes of your story, write a small paragraph summarizing what the scene is about, the key characters, and what is supposed to happen by the end. That's all. The point is to leave it open enough for exploratory writing, but structured enough that you know where you're going.

    Sometimes boredom can be a subtle nudge from your mind telling you the story's gone off track. However, sometimes you may feel bored because the scene is outside your comfort zone, and you'd really rather be writing something else. You have to figure out which is which. If it's just a difficult scene, there is no option but to push forward.
     
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  4. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would suggest another approach: less planning.

    Try experimenting with just writing, straight off the cuff. Of course it helps to have some overview on where you're going, but I find that I get the best ideas when I'm in the actual process of writing.
     
  5. Liza
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    Liza Active Member

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    My problem exactly. I've started so many novels, the farthest going only up to 25 thousand words. Then again, I don't think I planned those enough, and I'm trying to plan a basic event timeline for each chapter for this novel.

    If I'm getting bored with an idea, I just throw in another twist to make it interesting for myself.
     
  6. ZombieHappyMeal
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    ZombieHappyMeal Member

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    I feel like what happens with a story that I plan far to much. I get an idea of how great my story is and if everything isn't perfect in the first draft I am unhappy. The perfection is in my head already and when it is not perfect on the page I give up. I end up being afraid to fail because so much time and effort has gone into the planning of the novel.

    I think that the answer is to give yourself permission to write a terrible book. That's what I have done in the past and it works for me. I put all the planning in and sit down to write a real piece of crap. Granted I don't try to make it bad I try to write the story as best as I can, but I give myself permission to fail. Having the preconceived notion that the the novel is not going to be perfect and might not even be good, lets me explore everything I want to explore and write without restraints.

    My advice to you. Write a terrible novel. I think you will be happy with the results.
     
  7. ZombieHappyMeal
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    ZombieHappyMeal Member

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    Posted the same thing twice for some reason and couldn't figure out how to delete the second copy of it.
     
  8. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    Choose a concept that you feel is urgent for people to know or for people to be reminded of. Build a novel or short story around that concept.

    For example, that people should be made more aware of:

    1. The need for peaceful resolution to international problems
    2. The need for a better educational system that produces responsible citizens.
    3. The need or better health-care system
    4. The need for more research on longevity
    5. The need for less military spending
    6. The need for a shift to non-polluting renewable fuel
    7. The need to provide training for those who would be parents
    8. The need to have a better detection system for possible incoming asteroids.

    etc

    If the need's urgency is felt strongly enough and you feel that your writing will make a difference, then boredom is far less likely to set in.

    Also the previous advice about giving yourself some rope is important. Remember, even professionals revise their work because most of the time their first draft and even their second draft isn't good enough and needs polishing.
     
  9. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    Maybe because you are writing simply to write instead of really having something to write about. Not being derogatory, but I noticed I couldn't finish some of mines because I tried to stretch a little idea into a big thing.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second this. Don't obsess over having a perfect first draft. Allow yourself to write the story you want and worry about the quality later. You could also turn the planning thing into an actual first draft, a very rough draft, but still. Or maybe you're the kind of person that find planning a story and develop it more satisfying than the actual writing it down, because you have already explored the story world in your mind. Maybe less planning could be helpful. Start with just a general idea or a theme and get straight to writing and see where it leads you.
     
  11. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Guilty.

    Do this a lot. I know full well I shouldn't, since the plot's already been done for me - I'm writing biographical historical fiction. But I still do it, and it drives me crazy. What I find helps is just writing a scene entirely in dialogue, and filling the gaps with description and action later. At least that way you've got something down.

    Writing dialogue is much easier than writing full prose when you're in a bit of a pickle.
     
  12. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    This, but with a twist. I agree with not having exigent standards the first time through, but don't assume your novel will be absolute shyt once you finish the first draft. It's quite possible that you'll have a decent novel on your hands, no matter how choppy or senseless it seemed to you during writing.

    All I'm saying is that not even the first draft will be crap, unless your vocabulary comprises 10 words and you've been taking writing lessons from Meyer.
     
  13. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I have plenty of unfinished or stalling writing projects and ideas accumulating, but I usually complete the stories I set out to complete. Something I did pick up along the way is that a lot of the times planning gets in the way. You may have planned for your story to go right and when you started writing it, the characters or events wanted to go left. You hesitate at such times because it doesn't stick to the plan, doesn't follow the intended path you set for it. Sometimes it's just a matter of letting it stray away from the plan and tagging along with it to see how it flourishes.
     
  14. AllThingsMagical
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    AllThingsMagical Member

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    Thanks to everyone who has posted. It's actually made me feel a lot better knowing that I'm not alone in doing this. After having reflected on what people have said I think that my problem is probably that I want to write something amazing rather than just average - or worse - and so when I sit down to start I fixate on how I could improve it before I've even really given the original idea a proper chance.

    I'm going to take ZombieHappyMeal's advice in that I try and finish a truly awful first draft rather than having a few decent first chapters floating around and I'm hoping Ged'll be right in that it won't seem so bad when I've finished.

    Thanks again to everyone though - there wasn't a single unhelpful comment at all.
     
  15. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a problem I used to have.

    Until two years ago I found it near impossible to finish anything. Now I've realised that if a novel idea is going to fizz out on me it'll do so either in the outlining stage or within the first 5,000 words of the first draft - if it can make it pass that point then I'll take it all the way to completion.

    I find what keeps me stuck into a draft is the characters. I grow attached to certain characters during the planning stage (not to the point that it would make me change my mind about killing them off, mind!) and I stick with the story so I can continue writing about them. I also look for any specific scenes in the novel that I'm really psyched to write and then work towards getting to that point.

    I recently finished a 185k story that existed in mind for two months, took six weeks to plan (resulting in a 36k outline) and then nine months to write. In total, that's a year and two weeks from conceiving the idea to finishing the first draft. About halfway through I realised it would work better in first person rather than third person limited, and the tone wasn't right, but I knew if I restarted before I reached the end then I'd risk getting into a habit of restarting rather than finishing a project.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    it sounds like we have a lot in common:) I so recognized my own thoughts in the marked part above.
     
  17. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    I know what you mean. Personally I oftentimes get a decent idea for a story in my head and I start to write. I do wonderfully until i hit a difficult section and have no idea how to continue, I get up, take a break, and never actually get back to the story. The majority of my stories are crafted in one sit down interval and if i can't finish it before then they are toast. Either I lose interest in the story and never return to it, or I start reading through the work that I performed and begin changing things, eventually giving the project up for a loss.

    I found that writing an outline for a story helps, giving me a clear cut road map on where to go. Eventually though even the outline can't help you if you are going through a slow section and it all comes down to discipline.
     

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