I would consider myself to be a relatively good writer and I love writing. But I have a problem. Whenever I'm working on fiction projects I have a tendency to become so in tune and connected to my own characters (and sometimes even locations) that it stops me from getting anywhere. For example, a while ago I was encouraged to write a short story for a local competition, all sorts of people kept telling me I had a good chance of winning, and so I was feeling quite confident. After developing some characters and planning a plot I attempted to squeeze it into the word count limit, but when I was about half way through this process I started to realise that there was no way that X character would ever be in X situation and that he simply didn't fit there. I changed my initial plan and continued writing as my character wanted me to write (Am I sounding totally insane yet?) but I was still incapable of reaching any ending or conclusion. Several months later, the competition has long since finished and all the letters have worn away on my keyboard leaving me with a selection of blank keys, my short story has turned into an incredibly long novel, and to be honest, I suspect it's also a pretty **** novel. The problem is that I'm writing for myself, not for the reader. I've become far to attached to my character and although some sort of plot does remain, there's no way I could ever let it end. I've tried starting fresh with a completely new idea and different characters, but I keep giving up on it and going back to my previous piece of work. My theory has always been that most writers of fiction have some form of dissociative identity disorder, but anyway, my connection with my characters is the only thing that's standing between me and my chance of success. I don't want to stick to journalism, I want to write great stories and I want other people to read and enjoy them. Can anyone offer me some advice?