1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    How do I STOP writing a story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JadeX, Feb 21, 2016.

    I've been working on my novel for 2 years now and it has become the focus of much of my thought. I'm constantly thinking about it and coming up with new ideas. I've created characters that I care about, situations that grab my interest, and built an ever-expanding world with all kinds of new details that occur to me at every hour of the day and night. It has consumed me.

    But I don't want to write it anymore. It's been 2 years and I've hardly done anything with it, there are more characters involved than I can keep track of, and my ideas are so far out there that nobody will ever have a chance in hell of understanding it all. 20 books thrown in a blender could yield a more comprehensive string of words than anything in this godawful trainwreck of a plot.

    I want to shut it down, close the door on it, walk away, and never look back. But my story won't let me. I can't get it out of my mind, I'm like a slave to it. I'm so tired of it, it's draining me mentally and emotionally and I just can't do it anymore. How can I effectively kill it once and for all?

    (This isn't a cry for help, I'm not looking for encouraging words or motivational quotes or writing advice or any of that crap. I really do want to drive the stake through the heart of my story and bury it. Preferably without starting a new story, or else I'll be back here making this same thread in a few months.)
    (EDIT: Actually, I'm not entirely set on this. The topic of discussion took a turn and caught my interest. We'll see...)
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As someone who often deals with obsessive thoughts, I believe that clearing obsessive thoughts requires obsessive thoughts. For example, when I irrationally worry about something, I may watch a scarey TV show or movie and try to really get into it. I'll deliberately daydream the scarey scenes at other times, when the worrying thoughts try to intrude.

    A hobby that involves a lot of detail can help, too--for example, I have a garden with 120 4X4 beds, and I can draw out plans for what to plant when and where, endlessly.

    I have a mental model that thinking the unwanted thoughts gives them more energy, allowing them to intrude with more force. In a similar way, not-thinking them would weaken them. I don't know if that model has any scientific backing, but it works for me. Even if a thought tries to intrude many times every single bleeping minute, if I refuse to allow myself to actually walk through it the way it wants me to, it seems to get weaker. Eventually. Slowly. So if you see John and Jane in your story walking into a scene, or something, knock them down and insert another thought. Over. And over. And over. And over.

    For me, eventually those thoughts will weaken enough that something else that's attention grabbing--the scarey movie, the garden planning, a book that's just interesting enough but not too challenging--can occupy my attention without too much of a fight.

    I don't know if this is at all useful.
     
  3. Lewis shepherd
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    Lewis shepherd Member

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    How do I stop writing a story..?

    THE END
     
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  4. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Skip forward in time and write the very last scene? The last battle, and the departure? Where all involved people celebrate with bonfires and fireworks?
    I think this will take the urgency out.
     
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  5. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Well if your not prepared to edit, or rework what you have into something worthwhile. Write a final scene....someone drops an a bomb....the world gets sucked in to a black hole....etc. No one lives. The end.

    If it is an obsession though, it maybe that just because you stop writing doesn't mean you stop thinking. You will have to retrain your mind to stop making connections to story writing, by finding other things to do and think about.

    If you are prone to obsessive behaviour, you will obsess about something else, and I'd probably go seek help from a family member or doctor.
     
  6. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    delete it.
     
  7. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I believe there are a lot members on this forum that have been working on a novel for longer than two years, so you have probably just hit a point in time where you are tired of the same old story but it is part of you so it will never really leave you. I will go out on a limb and also say that I bet a lot of authors always look back at their completed stories and think how they could have changed things, it is unlikely anyone is ever 100% satisfied with what they have achieved, so your feelings are quite normal IMO. Take a vacation from writing for awhile and then try to start a new story, let the old one rest for a few months if possible and then you might see it with new eyes and have the ability to see a conclusion and finally begin the editing process. You are driven, just don't let it drive you to madness. :)
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Put this at the end of the manuscript (if you've got one):

    Without warning, without any hint, a giant asteroid the size of their planet entered the atmosphere. In a blink, what was once life became nothing. With a blinding light and a deafening roar, what was once a place of such vibrant life and fertility became a planet-sized tomb of charred lands and molten rock.

    And so ends the story of [insert name of your characters], taken before their time in a disaster none could see, that none could prevent. For all the progress they made, they had underestimated Nature. Thought they could command Nature. They were wrong. Because Nature...

    Nature always wins...

    THE END

    In short, an asteroid appeared and obliterated everyone and everything. No time to prepare, no time to act. No plotline detailing how to prevent the impact, or to contemplate the meaning of a planet whose life is about to come to an end. Just a sudden WHAM and game over for everyone.

    And make it canon. That is actually how that story ended. And you are free to move on to something else. Find another hobby to fixate on.

    I'm with Spirirj and ChickenFreak as well. You may need to retrain your mind via meditation techniques to not fixate, train it to know that you are the boss, not it. You decide what it will or will not fixate on.
     
  9. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on the state of your WIP, you may just have reached the "this is a big piece of crap" point. If you haven't had someone else read it, do so now. They can assess the complexity of your work... like you I felt that mine was horribly complex, too many characters, taking too long to come to conclusion. It sat, without work, for thirteen years. Now with minor tweaks, the thing is finished, on its third revision, and everyone who has read it has been very enthusiastic.

    You may just be telling a complex story, and if told well, those are the best kind!
     
  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How many words of actual story do you have written?

    One thing I'd like to see more of on this forum is a stronger focus on the "economics" of fiction writing. When is it time to move on to a new story? How good does a story really need to be before we decide to submit it? How much time should you spend on your first serious attempt at a novel? Etc, etc.

    If you have a solid 100k words of story that you think has decent potential, maybe you should just do whatever it takes to make those existing words into something publishable. Look, maybe you wanted a masterpiece. It's not going to be that masterpiece after all. So what? It might be decent anyway. I think we need to learn to salvage our efforts. This is where I am right now.
     
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  11. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I've got scripts languishing on the hard drive. Write something else for a while, it is the journey. I like to think that whilst the blog porthole has had zero hits this week, at least I am book-reading in a minor and grubby independent bookshop to three people in two months time, a yin-yan, call it win-win loser.

    Anybody want to read my mermaid script?
     
  12. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Sheesh, looking at this post today I seemed kinda harsh. I wasn't in the best of moods last night but I didn't know it was coming through so much. So first, I apologize for coming off so negatively.

    The word count, as of right now, is 10,612. I'm still at the beginning of the 5th chapter of a story I had hoped would have over 40. For reference - at this exact time one year ago, I was writing the end of chapter 4. So I haven't gotten much done in a year and that sort of frustrates me. I feel like I should be to at least chapter 20 or 30 by now.

    @BookLover , I see where you're coming from but I don't believe in deleting my work. Even if I never plan to get back to it, it's still something that I put a lot of time and work into that I may want to re-visit some day. I don't think I've ever deleted anything I wrote, even the unfinished stuff.

    A couple of you have used the word "obsession" and I think that is an apt description. What @Lew said sounds familiar to me. My story is so complex that the question "What is it about?" strikes fear in me.

    Ehh, I don't know... really not sure what to do at this point. I think trying to write a full-length novel was my first and biggest mistake. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a writer. Thanks for the replies, everyone. I duuno, I'll figure something out, maybe...
     
  13. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    You could check out Rachel Aarons - 2 k to 10 K writing faster, writing better. It's not a bad little book. I was surprised to find I was already doing some of the techniques she suggested. Such as prewriting a scene and not doing a lot of character planning. She has other good suggestions like keeping a record of your writing to discover how & when you're doing your best writing. And how to escape not finishing.
    It was actually some of the most sensible advice I've read in a while.

    You could be burnt out form over planning. I've been there. Or you could be stuck in a scene which feels boring and you want to skip it. Maybe you should.
    I have ditched a lot of stories over the years some I don't regret ditching others - I do. I want to finish them. So you have to decide if this is a story you want to tell and is worth telling or set it aside and move onto something fresh.
     
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  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Peachalulu has it spot on. It could be that you're simply burnt out. Put it down and go work on something fresh, something you've never thought of before. Ignore this one for a while, pretend it doesn't exist. If the pull returns, go back to your notes and decide if that story is worth tackling again. If it isn't, if you want to walk away from it forever, that's cool too.
     
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  15. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    I'm not entirely set on quitting. I think it could be that I'm burnt out. Perhaps it is because my story's main focus is on an armed uprising/revolution, but first I must write all of the development stuff at the beginning - establishing characters, brining people into the cast, letting my characters form an idea of what they're going to do, get them to know and trust each other, all of that needs to be done before the first shot can be fired. All this time, I've been thinking about the big, exciting battles that are to come later - the real story stuff, like when my characters finally get their hands on some weapons and things start getting interesting.

    And I've been looking forward to getting to that part ever since I conceived the idea, and maybe it's just that it's taking so long that I feel like I may never get there. It's just going so slow and my enthusiasm is wearing off.

    Might it help to write ahead, skip a few days or even a few weeks and get to the meaty core of the story to satisfy my excitement, then go back and fill in the gaps? Just so I know it's going somewhere and I have something to work toward?
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can write your story in any order you please. And you may discover you don't actually need a lot of that other stuff.
     
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  17. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you are describing is a data dump, which may be off putting to the readers. It is best to let the setting and the characters emerge at their own pace. If you are a planner writer, then you need that background for yourself, but not for the reader. Think of something to snag the readers' attention, then fill in the blanks. And concur.... never ever delete anything. It can always be reused. My WIP originally began as with a sword training bout between two Roman soldier , in some sort of Chinese gymnasium. That was discarded on first rewrite, but 1. it introduced ME to two of my characters, who continued to evolve through the story, and 2) I reused the bout between one of the soldiers, but his opponent became a rather fierce Xiongnu female warrior. I kept the part about her tripping over a nightsoil pot and taking a piss bath, but the whole thing worked with just minor changes.


    If you don't know whether you are a planner or pantser, you might bogging down in planning you don't need, because someone told you that was how it was done. My outline for my 250K completed WIP was
    1. Roman diplomatic mission goes to China by ship
    2. Gets hijacked
    3. Somehow get ship back, continue to China
    4. Have trouble in court. One or more condemned to death.
    5. Romans have to choose between honor and duty, choose honor
    6. Jail break, trek across 5000 miles overland
    7. Many people to to kill them, keep them from getting home.
    8. Find they succeeded after all

    Considering that story takes 800 pages and my readers love it, that was all the planning that went into it Characters appeared as they met them, played major or minor roles, then they left the stage. I often had no idea what was going to happen in a chapter, or it turned out different from what I expected. And I couldn't plan it, because I didn't know what was going to happen so I couldn't research what was going on in the first century AD, until I told the story!
     
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  18. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    And in fact if that exciting part is what you want to write, write it! After you do, you will find threads that need explaining and you can walk them back and write a preceding chapter, or walk it forward and write a explanatory chapter. The writing part is fun, I am part of the story, and I am just taking dictation from my people. If you are not having fun telling your story, then try doing it a different way
     
  19. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    No, no, I don't mean an info dump, not at all. I mean the establishing events leading up to the revolution, i.e., the main part of the plot. It doesn't just happen straight away, something has to cause it and those involved must prepare for it. People have to meet each other, connections have to be made, recruitment needs to happen, etc. All with a shadow of tension coming from the fact that what they are doing is highly illegal and must be done secretly.

    Totally not an infodump by any means, it's just a part of the plot that I want to get done already.
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only way I can think of is to do one of two things:
    1. write "THE END" and walk away (he said, jokingly), or
    2. write a synopsis/outline and stick to it.
    Sorry, but that's all I've got. I think if you impose structure by using a synopsis or outline, you may find it easier to bring things to a close.
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    OK, I think we've come to the crux of the issue: You've set up a gigantic story that isn't easily hammered to its finer details. You're basically trying to write a war novel from the prelude, the war, and the conclusion. I've been there before, with my fantasy.

    Here's what I recommend: start smaller. Write a more manageable plot that doesn't involve a complicated revolution with multiple sides clashing for victory.

    Or, as @ChickenFreak noted, write down the parts you are most interested in first, get them all down. Don't worry about how they got to that point, just write it out.
     
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  22. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you said in your OP, that the story has its hooks in you and won't let you go, then just write! See what happens. There is an interesting story there if it has captured you, and it can capture your readers, too, if you put it down. You can second guess yourself to death AFTER you finish the first draft. (NEVER do major editing while writing the first draft, it is a motivation killer... why my WIP was not finished 13 years ago)

    Little trivia: Margaret Mitchell began "Gone with the Wind" with the last chapter, and wrote the intervening chapters in no particular order, as the mood moved her. Quid facet, facet! What works, works.
     
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  23. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well said.

    In fact, @JadeX , the recommended approach to any war story is to find one character, the one most affected (or at least, very heavily affected [because who can say which person is most affected]) by the events of the war, and make that character your protagonist. Tell that character's story and let the war serve as a backdrop.

    Because as you implied, writing about every aspect of the war will take up the rest of your life.
     
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  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    An excellent example is George R.R. Martin. Dude's been writing A Song of Ice and Fire since the mid-1990s and the story is still not finished from what I've heard. Not saying he hates it now, but one can see what would happen you attempt to write a gigantic war novel where you examine every aspect of the war. Had he stuck with just one character like Tyrion Lannister or Dany, the series would've likely been a lot shorter, and not taken as long.
     
  25. uncephalized
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    uncephalized Active Member

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    It's my understanding that this is exactly how the brain works. Every time you go down a certain mental path, it gets trampled down firmer and it becomes easier and easier to have that thought again. Thinking about other things, or interrupting the progress of an unwanted thought with a contradictory one, is exactly how you retrain your mental habits. This is similar to cognitive behavior therapy for people with depression and OCD, etc. And that stuff works, better than drugs.

    It probably would have been a better story too. Five books in I am so burned out on new characters I don't really care about, and old characters I love being randomly and capriciously murdered, that I am not sure I am actually going to finish reading the series even if he ever gets it all done. (Personally I think he's going to take the ending with him to the grave.)
     

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