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Thread: Abandoning your novel?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Abandoning your novel?

    A few months ago I finished writing my second novel, and a few day ago I started revising it. I had fun and gained experience writing it, but the more I read it the more I find myself thinking "This story really isn't that interesting. I'm not sure anyone would want to read this." I'm thinking about dropping it for now/ever and moving onto my next idea, one that I'm incredibly confident in.

    Anyone else ever abandon their novel (finished or not)? How did it go? Did you ever go back and fix it?

  2. #2
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Welcome shs22, you should visit the New Members forum.

    I've abandoned dozens of novels, split between the story just not moving or the writing was just too hard to work with. And no, I've never revisited them. I'm too busy with my current WIPs.

    In your position, I would just pave ahead and leave history as history. Take what you learned from your mistakes and put the effort into your new work. You'll always throw stuff out, and I believe it's a great value to be able to easily place a story down and move on.
    Last edited by WillSauger; 12-05-2012 at 04:26 PM.
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    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    WS offers one option. Here's another: Move on, but don't give up on that bad boy completely. Even if the thing doesn't work as a whole, parts may be salvageable. You never know when some phrase or idea from it might come in handy. Plus, maybe you can pluck something from it, expand on that. . .
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  4. #4
    Super Procrastinator Kallithrix's Avatar
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    I abandoned a novel I started writing when I realised that fanfiction isn't publishable... *facepalm*

    But the novel was also complete crap, so that was fine. I did learn a lot from writing it, mainly about what not to do. I still find some parts of it hugely entertaining, and I'll go back and read them from time to time. One day I may even take the parts I liked and make something original out of them.

    But my current WIP is taking up too much of my time already, and is a bajillion times better.

    So yah, move on. It's not failure, it's experience
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  5. #5
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
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    Yep. I have abandoned a WIP. I knew while writing it that it was just a hot mess I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. The other day I opened the file and was surprised to find that it's not complete crap, so maybe one day I'll resurrect it.

    I'd say move on, but don't delete anything. There may be chunks that'll be of use to you in the future.
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  6. #6
    This is not Kelly Kapoor Story Hour aixsponsa's Avatar
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    Yes. I got 22,000 words into my first novel when I realized it was kind of boring. I took it as 22k words of practice.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    Sometimes we're too close to what we've written to assess its merits. I'd recommend trunking the novel, then looking at it again in, say, six months. You might find it's not as bad as you think now. Or it might be exactly as bad . Either way, work on something else in the meantime. If it needs to be abandoned, just leave it in the trunk.

  8. #8
    Soaking up information. L.Blake's Avatar
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    I know without question my first novel sucks. I would never subject anyone to reading it. I take the parts I think will work for others stories and leave the rest. It was a huge lesson in what not to do.

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  9. #9
    is Envy Augustine amrose's Avatar
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    I recently tossed the hard copy of my non-finished second novel. I used elements from it in a novella I published (the one in my sig). Parts of my first novel are getting cannibalized into my current WIP. No doubt about it, though. That first novel is/was garbage. Good concept, lousy execution.
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  10. #10
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    I abandoned a novel many years ago. It got no where further than a badly executed prologue. The concept seemed cool at the time, but the more I think of it now, it was just lame.

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  11. #11
    The grad students did it NeuroFizz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shs22 View Post
    A few months ago I finished writing my second novel, and a few day ago I started revising it. I had fun and gained experience writing it, but the more I read it the more I find myself thinking "This story really isn't that interesting. I'm not sure anyone would want to read this." I'm thinking about dropping it for now/ever and moving onto my next idea, one that I'm incredibly confident in.

    Anyone else ever abandon their novel (finished or not)? How did it go? Did you ever go back and fix it?
    My bolding. Why not find out for sure before abandoning it? Is the problem really related to your suspicion about how interesting it is, or are you just afraid to put it out there for serious critique? Either way, what if you are wrong, and it IS something we would want to read? Or, what if it just needs a little work to be in that category? Abandoning it without getting solid answers to these questions seems like a premature move to me.
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  12. #12
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shs22 View Post
    A few months ago I finished writing my second novel, and a few day ago I started revising it. I had fun and gained experience writing it, but the more I read it the more I find myself thinking "This story really isn't that interesting. I'm not sure anyone would want to read this." I'm thinking about dropping it for now/ever and moving onto my next idea, one that I'm incredibly confident in.

    Anyone else ever abandon their novel (finished or not)? How did it go? Did you ever go back and fix it?
    shs22!

    I have not abandoned a novel before, but I've put it away for awhile then come back to it.

    Look, you've worked hard on this novel. If you need to, set it aside and then go back through it and edit it. Make it the best you can. Give it to some beta readers if you need to. But don't give up because you believe the story is not interesting enough.
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  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aixsponsa View Post
    Yes. I got 22,000 words into my first novel when I realized it was kind of boring. I took it as 22k words of practice.
    That's a good attitude to have - practice makes perfect!

    I believe it is very important to save your work, always. You may come up with a different idea for it sometime in the future.

  14. #14
    Walking Anachronism davidh219's Avatar
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    As much trouble as I have sticking to it at times, I believe firmly in the idea that, at the stage I'm at right now, finishing things is far more important than making sure I'm working on the "best" idea, so I try not to abandon things until at least finishing a first draft. Definitely not novels (at least not yet). I abandon my short stories sometimes. I try to tell myself I'll come back to them later though

    My NanoWriMo novel was a first-person sort of science fiction thing about what really happened to Atlantis. When I came up with the idea back in late October, I was really confident about it. Now I'm 20k words in (I failed Nano horribly) and I'm not so confident anymore, and on top of that I came up with an idea for another novel that I'm itching to write. No idea if that's because this idea is better, or because it's new, or simply because it's different (several third-person viewpoints as opposed to the first-person viewpoint of my other novel).

    So what am I doing? I'm working on both of them at the same time! I realize I'm not experienced enough to know which of them will be worth anything in the end. Maybe neither will be worth anything. Maybe both will have merit. Hard to say until I get that first draft down.

    Also, jumping between two projects helps immensely with writer's block. I just pray that I don't come up with a third idea for a novel before I finish one of these.
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  15. #15
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    If you abandon anything because you don't think others will find it worth reading, you'll toss whatever you've written the moment post-draft depression hits. You learn nothing by abandoning projects before they've made the rounds, except how to give up on a project. Anyone can do that, and most who fail make a habit of abandoning projects. The simple fact is you have no idea who does or doesn't want to read your work until and unless you get it in submission, and keep it there.

    It isn't the writer's job to decide what others will or won't read. That's up to agents and editors. Your job is to write, to finish, and to submit. Nothing else is in your power.

    Follow Heinlein's Rules to the letter, and chances are you'll be a successful writer. Start abandoning projects and chances are you'll be an unsuccessful writer.

  16. #16
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kallithrix View Post
    I abandoned a novel I started writing when I realised that fanfiction isn't publishable... *facepalm*
    It wasn't an S&M retelling of Twilight, was it?


    Quote Originally Posted by shs22 View Post
    Anyone else ever abandon their novel (finished or not)? How did it go? Did you ever go back and fix it?
    My 'first' novel was a NaNoWriMo I did two years back. I hit the 50K mark on November 30 and declared it 'done'. I was tired of it, exhausted, and I had a second, better novel tearing at my head. A year later, with the second novel out being reviewed by betas (I'm slow) I dusted off the old NaNo and started retooling it. It was definitely getting better, but a funny thing happened: another, better idea forced its way into the front of my skull and took priority for the next ten months. That novel is now out being beta'd, while the first one still sits, unfinished.

    It may be time to go back and take another look at the first novel, so I can get properly fired up about the next one, hah ha.

    In all seriousness, you're going to be the only one who can decide whether you should abandon this one or not. The one thing you really want to be careful of is establishing a pattern of not finishing what you've started. Finishing a first draft is great, and congratulations, but if your ultimate goal is publication, you're going to have to carry through all the way. Sermon over.
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  17. #17
    Zombie lovin' elindsen's Avatar
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    I have temporarily abandoned two novels. One I just wasn't feeling and I believe you need to feel it for it to be your best. The second needs a bit more work and I'm kind of burnt out on it. I will come back, but when refreshed.
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  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Billycourty's Avatar
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    For me I have been working on my first novel for (on and off) 3-4 years. I have made all the basic and classic mistakes with this novel,

    but instead of writing four or five novels and making these mistakes, I have made them all in the same story. I have

    rewritten in and rewritten it.

    And you know? I don't regret a moment of it because this story is the story I am trying to tell.

    There is always more than one way to skin anything.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW LJD's Avatar
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    I trunked my first novel after several drafts. I don't expect to go back to it. I'm glad I trunked it, but I'm also glad that I went through extensive revisions first as I learned a lot.

    You don't want to get into the habit of not finishing projects, although you've got the first draft, so that's a good start. I'd probably force myself to do at least one round of revisions. You might work on the revisions for this one and the first draft of your next novel at the same time, perhaps allowing yourself to work on the latter as a reward for spending some time on the former. But if you really, truly, absolutely can't stomach spending more time on this manuscript, then put it aside for now.

  20. #20
    never mind the shorty angeliz2k's Avatar
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    To the OP: you don't have to abandon it forever. You might come back and find that flash of insight that makes the work worth salvaging. You might realize that if you make character x do y, it solves some/most of the problems you had with the story.

    Or, you might just be better off leaving it behind. Just give it time.

    And, yes, I've abandoned a 100k+ novel because I didn't think it was up to scratch. I still really enjoy it and think parts are brilliant. But as a whole, it's not publishable, so I've moved on.
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    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Long ago, in a galaxy you-know-where, I used to abandon novels. Now that I'm a full Jedi, I would never abandon work. If it's not on the market, I tuck it away to rest and visit it from time to time.

    Some things may rest longer than others, that's all.

    You must also be constantly vigilant for the human tendency to be excited over work in the early stages, jaded over work under lengthy revision. Your "boring" novel may not be, and your "brilliant" new idea may fade over time until it looks as dull as the "boring" piece. Pushing through the ennui to produce a finished product is a vital learning experience in itself, and the end product may even turn out shiny.
    Last edited by Phaeal; 12-05-2012 at 10:44 PM.
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  22. #22
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    You could always upcycle the good parts - it could be the spare novel you keep on hand for dialogue, characters, etc

  23. #23
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shs22 View Post
    ... the more I read it the more I find myself thinking "This story really isn't that interesting. I'm not sure anyone would want to read this." I'm thinking about dropping it for now/ever and moving onto my next idea, one that I'm incredibly confident in.
    Sometimes that's the voice of the Procrastination Demon. She whispers in your ear, "Look at that shiny new idea. Leave this drudgery and follow my--I mean, your--dream."

    Before you know it, you'll have a whole shelf full of first drafts and unfinished novels.
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  24. #24
    jlw OhTheHorror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    If you abandon anything because you don't think others will find it worth reading, you'll toss whatever you've written the moment post-draft depression hits. You learn nothing by abandoning projects before they've made the rounds, except how to give up on a project.
    What Jamesaritchie said. Even though I'm pretty guilty of it myself.
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  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Lots of helpful advice here

    I haven't made a decision yet, but I'm leaning towards sticking with it right now. And if I do stick with it I'm going to be extra hard on it. If my "this isn't interesting" sense tingles for even a half a second that section is getting axed / redone.

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