1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Starting a new book with an incomplete one hanging in the balance

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by John Carlo, Aug 8, 2010.

    Just want people to weigh in with some thoughts. I'm 30,000 words into my first novel (I'd say about half-way through), and I want to leave it alone for a while and work on another novel. I know the grass is always greener on the other side (when your book is just an idea, and before the hard work of actually writing it), but I really feel it's not laziness. I simply just don't want to write that particular story at the moment. Yet, I also don't want to be the guy who says he's writing a book, but never has anything to show for it. Any thoughts, anyone?
     
  2. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    Strange one that.

    If you have written half a novel and then just don't want to do it any more, then perhaps the reader would not be interested either, which would indicate that maybe it needs a new approach. If it doesn't interest you, how could it interest anyone else?

    Of course, this new novel you are thinking of might be the one you are destined to write, and will have your full-attention. It also depends upon why you write in the first place - self-satisfaction? or to be an author?
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Its your decision but I would finish your first draft and then decide. Have you had any of it reviewed?

    Nothing galvanises me more than when I get a good review or comment. After all I am writing my book to be enjoyed. I was struggling with my first draft when two teen readers came back one compared it to Lord of the Rings and the other too Eragon, that was the moment I realised it had potential to be more than something I did as a hobby.

    When i was finding my second draft hard, I wrote a short story I posted on here, the reviews were so good there were faults but the reviewers wanted to read more, so I kept writing.
     
  4. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Many writers are known to have written stories in their primitive years, left it lying for many years, then come back to it after many published stories. You are definitely not the first one to do so. So, don't dump the project entirely, just keep it as something you'll do at a later date. I am certain that any day an idea will spark and nobody (not even yourself) can stop you from completing the story. Meanwhile, go ahead and write the other novel you want to write.
     
  5. natsuki
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    natsuki Active Member

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    There are some writers who can't work in just one project and prefer to write two novels together or a novel and a short story, etc. It is a personal choice, but try no to put your project completely aside.

    Write the other novel. Maybe you just need some time away from the one you are currently writing so you can come back later with new ideas.

    Good Luck :)
     
  6. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Hey John Carlo,

    That’s a tricky one. I’ve fallen into the same trap myself, and it’s hard to decide which direction is the right path. Because on one side, you want to stay attuned to your main labor. But on the other side, you want to break out of that usual grind, and do something new.

    Hmm…I’d go with writing your other novel. It would be a good break from an accumulated number of thirty grand, and you’d be able to revive your thirsting, adventurous, writing side.

    Who knows? Taking that hiatus might help you to incorporate new and exciting elements into your first novel.

    Hope this helps.

    Tayleea91
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Lots of writers have worked on several projects at once. Isaac Asimov said that when he got bored with the book he was writing, he'd pull that page from the typewriter, grab one from another manuscript on his desk, and carry on with something completely different. John Gardner used to work on at least two novels at once. John Steinbeck wrote the stories in The Long Valley while working on The Grapes of Wrath.

    Of course, all these writers I just mentioned are dead. But don't let that stop you!
    ;)
     
  8. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    Looks like it is official, John Carlo - you is dead LOL
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's all too easy to fall into the bad habit of making starts but not ever finishing anything, so be sure you finish at least one of the two, before going off into a third!
     
  10. SerraSwift
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    SerraSwift Member

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    It's not uncommon to work on two at once, but it will take discipline to ensure you don't begin a series of false starts. Some other posters on here have made great suggestions: put it away for awhile, hand it to someone to look at.

    If it were me, I would probably do both of those things. I'd give my static draft to a trusted friend to read and critique, while also starting on the new project. Sometimes working on something new can jolt your brain and give you ideas for your first project! And of course a critique may hit on what you knew was wrong with it, but didn't know how to fix.

    You could also set all writing aside for a little while. Jot down the ideas you have for book #2 (so you don't forget them) but don't start working on it. Put book #1 away. After a few weeks, continue working on book #1, and re-read everything you've written before writing any new material or chapters.

    Good luck, in any case! Let us know how it goes!
    Serra
     
  11. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Thanks to all. This was a great help. I was beginning to think I was committing an unforgiveable writer's sin by not seeing a project through to the end. I'm sure I will go back to it at some point. Just need to explore something else at the moment.
     
  12. Skaruts
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    Skaruts Member

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    There's no point trying to squeeze out some more juice out of the dry squeezed half of an orange, if you have the other juiceful half begging to be squeezed.
    :D
    Follow your inspiration.
     
  13. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    It is not an unforgiveable sin. The book that I am working on now I put aside about a year ago when I realized that I had written myself into a corner. I worked on something else, finished that, and am back with the first project. The year away gave me some perspective and I think it will be a stronger book.
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am a literary juggler. I always have about three works in process at any given time. (Well, not always. Right now I just completed one and started shopping it so I really only have two working - though the third broke the surface a couple of days ago and I have taken notes for it already!)

    How do I handle 3@1? While working on any particular project, the idea may go cold for me or another project idea may pop into my head and I have to get it down. I switch to that other project and work on it for a week or a month or three or four. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an idea for the first project will come to me and ... I'm back at work on that one! And, yes, I do complete them. Of course it takes longer to get one finished, maybe but, it keeps me writing with a passion on whatever project I have at hand.

    Just don't make it too easy on yourself to set that first project aside. You don't want to forget about it.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes, you need to get away from a project for a while, either to work out a plot line or resolve a knotty problem. You don't want to not write, so you turn to something else. I've done this myself more than once.

    The best story I ever heard about this was about novelist Alice McDermott (whom I actually knew slightly when we were both 14 - I crashed and burned because I wasn't old enough to drive). She was once interviewed and asked what she was working on at the moment, and her response was, "Actually, I'm working on four different things." She also said that her publisher wasn't happy about it, but she had to write what she had to write. This was after "The Bigamist's Daughter", "That Night", and "At Weddings and Wakes".

    So what you feel is best for your writing.
     

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