1. Micah Nguyen
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    Micah Nguyen New Member

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    Do I Quit on this Story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Micah Nguyen, Jan 13, 2014.

    I have asked myself this question many times whenever I'm writing. Most of the time I simply quit. I have gone through with this many times and each time it pains me but I simply can't pump out any ideas for the story and it simply gets nowhere.

    I'm not sure if this is under-confidence or its that the story doesn't work. I have asked myself this question on my latest story and I can't stand it anymore.

    Its a strong case of Writers block and it pains me when I can't think of anything for the story. I know that I am simply giving up but I have also been told that starting over is not a major problem.

    I have noticed that each time I do start over, the latest story is more refined, but the story is completely changed so is it just my imagination? The process of restarting is grueling and painful.

    How do you know when a story is awful enough to give up on it? What do you do once you can't pump anymore ideas into the story?

    Excuse me if I made any mistakes in this Post, this is my first post on here.

    -Micah
     
  2. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short story or novel? How far do you get?
     
  3. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure one can ever be sure if a story is awful or good. Since it's all in execution, you have to look at the writing and presentation, not the story itself. Are you being cliche? Are you hitting important points? Are you showing rather than telling?

    Without something to critique, it's hard to say on anything.
     
  4. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    If I have no idea where the story needs to go then I'll rethink it, examine everyone's motives to see where it has to go next. Do you know where or how your story will end? If so just get to the next event that needs to happen to have that ending happen. Restarting every now and then isn't an issue but if you restart a story every time you hit say 5000 words than you need to do something different. I found that I restart stories less when I don't read back over anything so I'm completely focused on moving the story forwards.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Set the story aside and come back to it in a week or even a month. Perhaps taking a break from it now will help you finish it later. This works for a lot of writers.
     
  6. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I have been writing one story for almost 10 years. It is an idea I have been on the fence with. However, what made me want to pursue it to this day was how the story evolved overtime.

    Sometimes ideas need to mature before they become easier to understand and write about. I would step away from the story and keep an open mind about it. Do not be afraid of new ideas that come to you.

    Recently I attended a writing workshop, and a professor who teaches literature told the audience, "The simplest ideas are the ones that become extraordinary works of literature."
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    • I started a couple of stories that I did nothing with. But when I actually started the story that I am now working on, it's obsessed me. So I can't relate except to say, if you aren't feeling it, maybe you do need to start again.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Starting over is not a problem if you know you are going to finish. It sounds to me like your problem is having developed a habit of quitting. Until you break that, it won't matter what ideas you have or don't have. So finish. It doesn't matter if it's crap - you have to finish. Finish the current one. Grab one of those you tossed and finish it. Then grab another and finish it. Do not allow yourself to "start over" until you know you are going to finish.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. What shadowalker said.

    It's one of the things I bang on about a lot, but I do feel people need to finish what they write. Then, and only then, will you have a complete picture of what you've done. Then and only then can you work to improve it.

    If you tend to start things and not finish them because you have no idea where they are going, it might be an idea to start with an ending. Get an ending scene firmly in mind, write it down. Then work backwards (in your head ...you can write sections as they occur to you) until you get to where the story begins. This might be the trick you need to get yourself out of this start-stop-abandon ship-routine you've fallen into.

    There are a few people here who might argue that it's possible to produce literary wonderfulness without editing (including Shadowwalker, if memory serves me right :)) but most of us know that editing is where the real work (and real pleasure) of writing lies. That's when you look at what you've got, and start shaping it into the story you wanted to tell.

    It's kind of like a sculptor with a lump of clay. The lump of clay needs shaped and maybe re-shaped, but if the sculptor doesn't have a lump of clay to begin with, there will be no sculpture ...no matter how many drawings, doodlings and diagrams he may have produced beforehand.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Funny. Are you my twin? Seriously, I have the same problem. I've started over from scratch 3 times - scrapped a couple of full manuscripts all at 80,000+ words. Right now I'm about half-way through and I'm about ready to throw in the towel (currently a 88k).

    If it simply gets nowhere, maybe you need to plan an outline that you stick to? An outline that goes from the beginning all the way to the ending, marking all the milestones and perhaps even briefly how each milestone is reached and how they are overcome.

    I also like jannert's advice above me, eg writing backwards.

    Yes, there's probably nothing more discouraging than starting over and over and over and finding it never finishes. For me, it's not so much that I never finished. I've finished twice, in fact. I just decided to ditch the entire novel and start over because well, I realised it didn't make a damn bit of sense. And while you sound like you've started and stopped a dozen projects - for me, I've only ever written this one novel.

    For me, I am seriously close to just giving up and starting something else. But at the same time, I'm wondering if it's an attitude problem? All this time, I'm just thinking, "I just wanna get it done." This implies that I see it as a chore to get out of the way. This also implies that I'm not prepared to put in as much effort and time as it takes for it to finish, as though any haphazard finish would do (not true).

    I just wonder, what if I just wrote it? Just write it for fun again. Of course, my key problem is I no longer have fun with this novel cus it's become the bane of my life, but I do like the story and I do like writing. So what if I stopped caring whether it makes sense and just pushed through it? Let anything happen, see where it goes. I can worry about it making sense once it's done, and this time, DON'T bloody ditch the whole thing to write from scratch. This time, make the events come together rather than latching onto a better idea each time and end up having to change the whole novel.

    And yeah, I think it does boil down to whether you believe in your novel, in yourself. Bottom line is, we're both discouraged. It's not that we can't write, not that we're not disciplined, not that we don't wanna finish. It's not that we give up easily or that we can't stand back up or we are lazy. It's that we've gone down so damn many times you wonder what it's all for and if you're not just banging your head on a dead end.

    But I dunno, where there's a will, there's a way, right? (I'm grinning at this now because my MC is Will hahaha :D )

    I haven't a clue what to say to encourage you to carry on, but carry on. You've come this far. You've put this much in. You can't let it go to waste. That's the only thing keeping me with my novel - I can't just let all this... disappear. 3 years and 300,000+ deleted words and a 88,000 half-finished manuscript, all just... GONE. GONE the moment I decide, "I give up."

    I dunno about you, but I can't let it happen. It's so easy to, so easy - just move on to a more interesting idea and this novel would be behind me, and I would do that too if I knew I'd come back but I fear I never would, once I move on.

    You just gotta push through.

    And hey, maybe see if you can find someone who would read what you have of your novel. It's easier when you know someone enjoys your story and thinks you should continue because they love what you've written so much. It gives you hope, and a little bit of joy. It confirms that there's something special there even though you can't see it anymore.

    So yeah. Don't stop.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You may want to think through an idea before you commit to it. I agree with @jannert - you should have an idea of where you want to end up. I usually start with an idea of who my MC is, what the struggle is and how it will likely end. Once I have that, I flesh the idea out a bit, add a character or two, then go. If, as the writing evolves, it occurs to me that my originally conceived ending place doesn't quite work, I tweak it. Or even change it completely. After all, an outline is a planning device, not a law.

    Good luck.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know that anyone has claimed you can produce good literature without editing - I know I have not. It is definitely possible to produce a first and only draft which is of publishable quality, however. :)
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I thought you might say that! :)
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think the point is that the writer who edits as (s)he goes, if rigorous enough, produces a first draft that will in fact be the final draft. In my current project, I am doing way more editing as I go than I usually do, but that doesn't change the fact that I will have a "first draft" that will still need to be heavily edited.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Here's my 2p, for what it's worth:

    The original Honda Civic in 1973 as imported into the U.S. was this:

    [​IMG]

    A Honda Civic today is this:

    [​IMG]

    Along the way they have had some duds and less than successful efforts, but the only way for them to have progressed from that first little boxy, no-frill-having, near micro-car to the slick little sci-fi lookin' wedge was to have finished the thing, bumper to bumper, and that required plenty of planning, year after model-year. Perhaps you're trying to be a pantser and in reality you're a planner. You're starting at the wheels and trying to get to the drive-train, but in order to do either you need to have in idea of what you want out of both so that they go together. You don't want a transmission that rips out the transaxle, or a 300 hp motor on wee skinny tires. Perhaps you need to have an idea of where you want the story to end so that you can decide the steps to get there. I'm not saying you have to be a planner (people tend to get very defensive on the topic), but maybe give it a shot if you haven't already. It might prove to be the mode you need and you may even settle somewhere in the middle zone between planning and pantsing. Nothing wrong with that. ;)
     
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert - if I remember correctly, I think @shadowwalker edits as he (she?) goes along, which I think s/he considers as one draft rather than multiple drafts? So by the time s/he's finished, the draft is considered to be publishable, which means no further editing needed.
     
  17. Wild Knight
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    Wild Knight Active Member

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    Well, damn. I feel kind of lame. I nearly suggested that, if the novel that the OP is working on just REALLY doesn't work for him (her?), that maybe it's okay to let it go for now, and work on something else to clear their head. I recently realized that I have had to let go of a novel that I had been working on since I was about twelve? Though I still have the manuscript, in case I ever wanted to go back to it.

    :D But okay. If you really believe in your story, then keep working on it, as the others suggested. I do believe that I can go back to that novel eventually, though I have plans to revise a new story that I am only three chapters into, with plans to condense chapters 2-3... so obviously, I won't be working on that old novel anytime soon.
     
  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Wild Knight - lol yes I think it is sometimes good to let things go too, and writing new things can sometimes give you new inspiration for an old project :) But then again, there's a difference between putting it away for a breather to clear your head, and giving up.
     
  19. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    It sounds like you've already made up your mind.

    I've got a folder named "Abandoned Projects," that has more content in it than my "Finished Work," folder. I abandoned each of those projects for a reason- a damn good one- and, typically, it was because I wasn't skilled enough to tell the story properly. I'll probably circle around there in a few months, when I'm a little better, to dredge my past for ideas. Do I feel guilty walking away from a project when it got hard? Yeah, but I've found that forcing myself to write when there's no connection with the work will lead to a hackneyed story. It's far better to walk away than ruin the marble.

    That being said (The prefix for any abrupt change in opinion) it's incredibly important to actually finish a story. The disgust that causes me to abandon work tastes different from the disgust that a first draft creates. You have to refine your palette so that you might distinguish between them, lest you use the former as an excuse to avoid the latter.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you are in the habit of quitting writing projects, you'll have to either break that habit, or forget about being a writer.

    If you choose to break the habit, why not now?
     
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  21. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Well, my take, as usual, is a bit different. You want to write. That's obvious. And you do, at least begin stories. So you have the desire, and the perseverance to continue, even when it looks like you're getting nowhere. That demonstrates that you're a little crazy, which is a prerequisite to writing. People pay money to view the results of our craziness. So the problem isn't in the basics. It appears to be in the methodology.

    First, you to begin writing, and then hope come up with ideas as to what to have the characters do next. First mistake. We don't tell them what to do. We work behind the scenes. We toss bodies in their path, set fire to their house, have the protagonist accused of a crime they never commited. We trip them, torture them, and mislead them. We send danger and fear, and even romance their way. But we do not tell them what to do.

    The closest we come to that is to change their personality, as needed to make them want to do what needs doing. That may sound like the same thing as making them do it, but it's not because it's the protagonist who's making the decisions, based on their needs, their desires, their personality, experience, and the situation. And what they do had damn well better make sense to both the character and the reader.

    We also provide the protagonist with The Problem. The story revolves around it. It's something the protagonist needs to do or get but can't (because we, bastards that we are, keep putting it out of reach). S/he wants it and needs it, and by making the reader see the situation exactly as the protagonist does, so-do-the-readers. We aren't telling a story. That's for children. We aren't informing the reader on the details of the history of a fictional character. That's as interesting as a history textbook, and the market for history books, real or fictional, is a bit limited.

    No, we're forcing the reader to play a grownup game of Let's Pretend. Although it sounds a bit silly, readers want to worry. We introduce them to our protagonist and make him/her their avatar. We place them in that tiny slice of time the protagonist calls "now,"and then move time forward, moment by moment, focusing on what matters to the protagonist. That's not the plot. Not the scenery. Not the history of how things came came to be as they are. We focus on what matters to the protagonist right then, to make the reader care.

    And how we do that isn't something we learned in school, in life, or by reading for pleasure. It's not something that will come to us as we write as a reward for having a sincere heart. It's the learned part of the unique profession of writing fiction for the printed word, which is unlike verbal storytelling, film, or stage writing. You can't write and then fix problems in editing that are there, in the first place, because you're missing knowledge of the things imposed by the medium for which we write.

    So what I'm leading up to is that if you don't understand the structure and the elements of a story when told via the print medium, of course you're going to be discouraged. You're going to write a scene that meanders and has no proper focus. Later, when you read it back, the reader in you will see that something isn't right, but because you're missing data you won't know what's wrong just that it's not what you hoped it would be.

    The solution? Do a bit of research into the tools and knowledge the people who make it look easy when we read their work depend on.

    And I don't mean to mimic them. If Stephen King said he rubbed dog shit on his nose before he sat down to write I wouldn't simply duplicate that. I'd try to find out why, and what it does for him that's repeatable in others, and if it was something that might help. Then I might go looking for Fido's bathroom.

    Your public library's fiction writing section can be of a huge help in avoiding the pitfalls that so often trip a new writer. My personal recommendation is to seek Jack Bickham or Dwight Swain's name on the cover.
     
  22. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    I usually mull an idea over in my mind quite a bit till the metaphorical lightbulb in my mind comes on. I start a file, type in as much as flows, then save out. Do some REM sleep on it. Watch some TV on it, till that lightbulb comes on again.

    Type it all out and don't sweat the small stuff.

    Some people work from an outline. Some don't. I need a character name? I roll my eyes skyward, think of someone I admire or despise. Bingo! That person has a new name... to protect the guilty.

    If I keep starting over, I lose the good part of the deleted file. All else fails, I go into the writers block thread here and spend some whine time. Sooner or later, someone will slap me back to reality.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
    - Winston Churchill
     

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