1. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Giving up a story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by There_She_Goes, Mar 10, 2012.

    Hello!
    So, I've got a problem... I've been working on a story for almost two years. I love my characters and they feel like real people to me - they rarely agree with me and some of them don't even like me. But I'm still deeply attached to them :3.
    However, the plot doesn't work. It's got three parts and each of them is like a separate story. Still, they wouldn't work without each other. They belong together. I think about this mess every day and I don't know what to do.

    Have you guys had problems like this? Have you managed to leave a story behind? How? Just general discussion, my story was an example :D!
     
  2. Samo
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    Samo Member

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    Read Story by Robert McKee

    In it he explains the relationship between story and character and how without one, the other does not exist
     
  3. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Yes. A few years ago, I had written a 400 page book. The rough draft was done. I'd spent a long time on it, and was really emotionally attached to the whole thing. Sadly, the plot was generic and convoluted. I loved the characters, but I had to abandon the book because I knew that I'd improved a lot while writing it, and the first half was completely different in style, plot, and quality from the second half. I decided that it would be a better use of my time to start over with a new, fresh idea which used my newfound skills rather than try to adapt and repair such an old idea.

    What helped me, and might help you, was thinking of it like this; you aren't losing the characters. It's not as if they disappear once you decide to abandon the book they're in. You can evolve them, use them in other ways in other stories. They're as alive in your mind as they were on paper, and they don't have an expiration date. You can bring them back at will.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've left a story, 55K first draft that was pretty good. The reason I left it is that it is incomplete, ie. if I went to publish just that, it would be ok but it is a story about just one person so it would need fleshing out with a subplot or two. Also, it is in a language other than English and I found that translating makes for a much stiffer read than when it's read in the original language. So I started a new project in English instead. I still really like the character so I might use her at some point. Also, writing her, helped my writing enormously.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have had to rethink the plot for my stories more than once, since the first idea (the one that starts the whole project off) isn't always strong enough, and I think one shouldn't be afraid to think new in order to find something that works. In some cases it means you have to simplify just a little because the original one is too complicated, in others it's the opposite, but don't be afraid to abbandon the old idea and work out one that is better, you can still keep the original theme and everything, just present it in a different way.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i strongly suggest putting that piece of work on a back shelf and leaving it there, till you've honed your skills and completed several more stories/novels... you're too fixated on that one and you won't be able to solve your plot problems till you've learned how to develop working ones, by practice...

    meanwhile, do lots of reading of the best works of the best writers, to absorb what workable plots read and feel like... to become a good writer, one must first be a good and constant reader...
     
  7. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    Yes.

    Usually it happens that I write something, get bored with it (a bad sign), rediscover it later, and laugh and delete it.
     
  8. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Hey, congrats, you're growing up as a writer. Everybody has to get rid of plots that don't work for whatever reason, and knowing the difference makes you a better writer.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are stories I've set aside. Some I've returned to with a fresh energy and wrapped them up. Others, I've scrapped what I've written and started over with a different approach entirely. Some old stories are on the shelf waiting for that new approach.

    If an idea grabbed me enough in the first place to inspire me to start writing it out, I'm unlikely to give up on it entirely. Still, I only have finite time to write, so some stories may never make it off the shelf.

    Gonissa, I don't agree. It's true you have to know when your approach isn't working. But the core story is like a writing prompt. A different treatment can make all the difference, and sometimes the changes required are smaller than you imagined.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tend to keep plugging on, pulling the story back and starting again until I have the right one. Sometimes I take a break and write something else before coming back to it, but I've yet to give up a story. However I have only been writing two years.

    One of my stories had three weird plots - one was a bunch of historical characters as displaced teens in a boarding school on another world, one was a love story between a time traveller and Lewis Carroll, and the other was the untimely death of an immortal character. I was about 50,000 words in before a devestating conclusion presented itself that pulled all the strands together. (story is only currently 80,000 words).
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've given up on a story. I'd created three characters I thought were really great, and their relationships were great, and I had my setting well in mind. But they just kind of sat there, refusing to get involved in a story. I tried putting them in different situations and they still wouldn't budge. I even transported them to a post-apocalyptic wasteland and they wouldn't do anything. I like them still, but they're complacent and lazy and stubborn, and just won't involve themselves in a plot of any kind. I tried about six different ways to write about them, but the story just won't happen. I've put them on the shelf.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ahaha, those bastards! :D
     
  13. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've given up on some stories I really liked. It hurt but it was for the best.
     
  14. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    I've ditched several novels in the past because I was in high school at the time, and there was too much angst in those books!

    Even if you choose to give up the story, all is well. That story is going to stick with you. Then, when you plot your next story, sometimes, characters from your previous work might find their way in. Even if you forfeit a story, I feel it's still time well spent.
     
  15. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure what you're not agreeing with. Writers getting better know the difference between a plot that works and a plot that just needs tweaking.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A few months ago, I set aside a novel that I'd been working on feverishly for most of the year. I was thrilled when I finally finished the first draft, and then I left it for a while, as is my usual practice. But when I came back to it a couple of months later and read through it in preparation to begin editing, I was really disappointed in it. For one, the project was very different from anything I had tried before and I had gotten off to a rocky start. But as I read through, I realized that what I had thought of as good plot devices seemed forced, the pacing was very uneven, and there were huge gaps - in other words, I had tried to do too much. I started poking and prodding at it, but after a couple of weeks I realized I really didn't have the passion in it to see it through, and so I have put it away for now, turning to another project.

    Will I come back to it? I think so. I still think there is a good story there, with compelling characters. But until I feel that determination to really dig in and get it done, I'm better off working on something else.

    What's really interesting is that the project I've turned to is something that I had regarded as completed as long ago as a few years. But when I looked at it, I realized how much more I've learned about writing in the interim, and I saw a lot of room for improvement. I ripped out about half of it as way too much backstory and changed the flavor of it. I've sketched out several new subplots and fleshed out a number of characters who had been only lightly touched upon in the original work. I'm excited and engaged in it, and that's what a writer needs to be.

    In the end, you don't really need to rationalize a decision to set something aside, and you certainly don't owe anyone an explanation - not even yourself. You'll come back to it in it's time, and if you don't, well, that's a valid decision, too.

    Good luck.
     
  17. NeedMoreRage
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    NeedMoreRage Member

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    I have a rule that I enforce fairly strictly: if I doubt something I'm working on for longer than a week and I can't figure out how to fix it, I either restart the entire project or scrap the story and move on to something else. This has come about from months of wasted time and effort trying to pump life into projects that I lost faith in. I believe in myself and my skills enough to know that if I do not like something, I have very good reasons for it. And if I can list those reasons, and I can't work around it, I only see one option remaining. Often enough projects that I scrapped pop back up half a year later, but in a much different form. But I'm not exactly recommending people follow how I do things; I just have too many projects to simply waste time on things I've lost interest in.

    This is the problem with growing as a writer; you can start to see the faults in your own work.
     
  18. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    I have only started writing for less then a year, but I have attempted to write three books in that time. The first one was a epic which I planned out chapter to chapter, and it was going to be at least 1000 pages and I was going to make a series. But it was my first book, alas I realized that it was terrible after writing 40,000 words for the first 16 chapters. My second was to much like another book -- due to the fact I thought I was being clever by adopting ideas from other books. I realized that I was not allowed to do it and I also realized I needed serious help if I wanted to be a writer. Thus, I went and found a couple books and read those and learned a few tips and tricks. Now, I am almost done what I think will be my first novel. When I look back at my two other novels I had attempted, I see one that I will try again, my first, and another I will never touch again. I think it is all about whether your plot works or not. Characters can come and go, but the plot is the foundation. I had a bunch of great characters in my second attempt of a novel, but the plot stunk and was a ot like another book. The other one had great characters too and a great plot in my eyes, but was written terribly. So if I think it is the plot that counts. If you love your character a lot, maybe take them out and see if you can plant them in another story you make. I have done that and it had worked out well as the character seems to be my critique favorite character other than the protag.
     

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