View Full Version : Finishing what you started

Jake G
05-02-2010, 03:55 AM
I wasn't sure if this should go in "Novels" or "FAQs". I feel like I've stumbled on this topic before, so I decided to put it here. Anyway:

I'm trekking through my third novel. The problem is, it's horrible. God awful. No publishing chance at all. I want to stop writing it, but I always hear that it is best to finish the novel. For, at the very least, a writer gains more experience and can learn from his tribulations and failures.

So, even if I have another topic that I am much more optimistic about, should I still go ahead and finish this problematic beast? Thanks.

05-02-2010, 03:57 AM
You could always leave it for a bit and take a look at it again with fresh eyes later. Sometimes I do this and it isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was.

If it is as bad as you think it is, then just leave it. At least, that's my opinion. Just don't make it a habit :)

05-02-2010, 04:02 AM
How close are you to finishing it? If you've only got 10-20k left, I'd say yeah, push on.

Either way, you might want to go back and edit some of the more suckalicious parts to see if you can pinpoint what went wrong and figure out how to fix it. Familiarize yourself with the kinds of screw-ups you make so that you'll recognize them quicker next time and hit delete before they cause major problems in the narrative.

Unless, of course, you already have a crystal clear idea of what went wrong and continuing the project would be utterly pointless drudgery. Then, by all means, work on something else and pretend this one never happened.

Or not. You can always feel free to ignore the chattering monkey. :D

05-02-2010, 04:06 AM
So, even if I have another topic that I am much more optimistic about, should I still go ahead and finish this problematic beast? Thanks.

Is it just bad or is it fatally flawed?

The former can be fixed and polished in a second draft, but the latter, not so much.

Take a good look at it, be honest, and decide if it's worth continuing. Sometimes it's just not.

If it's simply a case of being more optimistic about a new project then it's a different issue entirely.

05-02-2010, 05:03 AM
Many writers (including me) get caught up in the slog of finishing one book and are tempted by the next new idea to come along that tempts us to start on it, abandoning the work in progress.

My suggestion is to soldier on and finish your current WIP. That way you'll have an accomplishment under your belt. Then start on the new shiny.

Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving the current WIP unfinished so you can start the new idea and start something of a precedent. You work on the new idea and then another tempts you along the way, and you could end up with a string of unfinished works.

Finish what you started. :)

05-02-2010, 06:17 AM
If you've been able to finish two previous novels, then you're obviously capable of finishing novels. So that is not your issue. It's possible you need a break, or it's possible that you should just drop that book and write something else.

Elizabeth Moon was recently writing on this very subject: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=26651.

Don't feel you _have_ to finish something. If your love of the project is gone, then it's gone, and you as a writer will be happier and more productive working on something else. And, you never know, you might come back to the project in a year, see what was working, and be able to finish.

If you choke on _every_ project that's a different story.

05-02-2010, 10:36 PM
If it were me and I knew that I could finish a novel with no problem when it wasn't flawed, I would leave it and spend my time on projects that deserved my attention. Who knows, maybe in the future, you will want to come back to it.

Jake G
05-03-2010, 04:37 AM
Thank you all for your help. Just to clarify, I write my novels by hand in order to slow the process down. Thus, going back and editing it in its current state would be quite difficult and time consuming (basically a rewrite).

I think I'm going to put it down for a little and see if it picks up energy...or dust.

05-04-2010, 03:20 PM
I would finish it, then leave it for a couple of weeks before coming back to it.

Edit as you type and then do a full rewrite if necessay.

I bet you'll find that it's not as bad as you think. Perhaps you just need some detachment

05-04-2010, 10:52 PM
This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with writing, but sometimes when I'm working on a beaded project and I don't like the way it's going, I'll set it aside and work on something else and then when I'm ready, I go back to the original.

I don't know if it can be done like that for books.