View Full Version : Abandoning

The Lady
07-30-2007, 04:03 AM
I've been at a story for the last month, off and on. It keeps growing, becoming deeper, I know more and more about each character, the plot twists, etc. I estimate for the current 8 to 9,000 words I have, I've probably written 25,000.


It's only as I write it down that I realise that's true.

The thing is, its not working and I want to abandon it.

I think part of the problem may have been that someone was waiting to crit it for me and that put me under pressure. I hate having to hand over stuff for people to find the obvious mistakes. Another was that I lost confidence in my narrative structure. I had a tendency to speak of things (occasionally ), as if I was looking back in time at them. Then I would carry on, maintaining chronological order but withholding information that the narrator didn't have at the time, but did have looking back, if you know what I mean.

I began to wonder if that could work. I changed it. I changed it back.

I must have started the damn thing about six different times.

Anyway, tonight, I decided, enough is enough. I'm abandoning. Maybe, when I am a successful published novelist, :D I may pull this idea out and turn it into a novel, but for now, I am setting me free to write other things.

I'm just wondering, what experience others have of abandoning.

Is it the right thing to do? Are some stories just beyond you at a certain stage? Do they always annoy you or do you just walk away with a big smile on your face and a hearty sigh of relief that the giant struggle is over?

I'm relieved in a sense that I've given up with this one. I'm just wondering had anyone else got this particular t-shirt.

07-30-2007, 04:11 AM
I have loads of those t-shirts. In fact, I've packed some of them up to give to the needy. But others hold sentimental value, and I'll hang on to those a bit longer, perhaps wear them again. :)

Soccer Mom
07-30-2007, 04:44 AM
Have you ever finished a novel? because if you haven't, I'd urge you not to abandon it. Sometimes writing is hard. Sometimes it feels like crap when you're writing, and it really isn't.

Abandon the idea of handing the draft over. Just write the thing, and when you're done, polish it before you even think of handing it over. And if you aren't satisfied, you don't EVER have to let another soul read the book. Really. You can stick it in the bottom of a drawer.

But you'll have learned something just from finishing the project. Seriously.

If you're in the habit of finishing novels you start and just know from experience that this one won't work, disregard all the above.

Simon Woodhouse
07-30-2007, 11:59 AM
I usually try to see something through to the end, even if itís not going well. I console myself with the idea that the more it has gone wrong, the more I've learnt from it.

The Lady
07-30-2007, 02:13 PM
This morning, I had a think about this damn story and I realised, I may have started in the wrong place. I can think of a scene in the middle that would actually have made a very nice starting point.:)

But no, I am abandoning. :flag:

I also thought this story would make a very nice entry for me into the WOTF contest, and that may have influenced me to write in a voice similar to the voices of many of the winners in the WOTF anthology (because there is a type) and I think I pressured myself too much. One day I will write this story for fun maybe. Not now.
I suppose that's the thing, I'm leaving it aside for a long while, not just throwing it away.

Simon, that attitude in myself has kept me going this far. This story was wrong from day one I think. I've fixed so much up that maybe I just consider this story a crock at the moment.

Thank you SM. It's not a novel though, and I've finished lots of other short stories. No I've never finished a novel but I want to, so I can't spend the rest of my life trying to sort out this story, which seems entirely likely judging by how long its taken me to get this far . So novel more important. Story abandoned. I invested so much it in that its hard to leave it, but I do think its the right thing to do.

Siddow, no way I'm giving my story t-shirts to the needy.:tongue Just no way.

Celia Cyanide
07-30-2007, 06:14 PM
I had to abandon my novel year. I know you feel like you should stick it out, but I just had to say, look, it's not you, it's me. This just isn't working. There is that whole guilt trip about how the novel will never be complete without me, but that is just too codependent for me.

You need to find the right story for you. Writing a novel is a big commitment. Are you ready to commit to this one? Maybe you are, and you just don't know it.

I ran into my ex-WIP earlier this year, and decided it would make a better screenplay. I'm directing it in the fall.

07-30-2007, 06:18 PM
Start over, if you like, but abandoning a novel is always a bad idea. The ones that are the toughest to write are also the ones most likely to sell.

As for pressure from a critique, get in the habit of never showing anything less than a finished, polished draft, and the pressure goes away.

07-30-2007, 06:27 PM
My agent loved the first book that he got from me. He quickly made multiple copies and sent it to the majors (the ones who requested it). Dumb me, I began the sequel of that book and struggled for five solid months to finish it. It's an all out invasion story that makes Independence Day look like a kiddy carnival in comparison, topping out at 440 pages of fight, conflict, war, death and destruction.

When after a year, the first book did not sell, I abandoned the sequel The Omega Wars. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I never went back to the first draft to edit it. The reason: it's a marketing consideration and nothing else. The writing and storyline might be the greatest of my efforts yet, but I'm of the opinion that it won't sell, ever, without the crutch of the first one taking off.

So, it does happen. I did start to feel really bad about halfway through the sequel. However, I did force myself to finish it. I just couldn't see not completing something I set out to do. If anything, it instilled within me a dicplinary rule--Finish what you start. Even if you have to shelve it for the time being. Perhaps I'll revisit both of those books and figure out how to make them more appealing. At least they are there.

Good luck. And try to finish that project. Sometimes your writing is not as bad as it seems. The other little muse sitting on the other shoulder is oft times a little devil whispering dirty little things in your ear. Don't listen to that one. He's often a liar.


Soccer Mom
07-30-2007, 06:30 PM
Well, if it's a short story that won't work (and you mostly finish them) then by all means, stuff it away in a drawer and move on to the next projects.

Short stories are like fudge (IMHO). Sometimes they just won't "set-up."

07-31-2007, 03:50 AM
Oh yeah, I deal with the "abandon or stick with it" question a lot. I'm dealing with it right now, in fact. The novel I'm writing right now is chewing-on-tinfoil bad. It's my third try writing one (two failed attempts, both abandoned after less than 10K words). I don't know what's going to keep me going on this one, knowing that this will be trunked, but I promised myself that I would write "The End" before making any rash decisions. If I keep quitting my novel WIPs, I'll never know whether I can ever finish a first draft, let alone a polished novel.

I've found that this approach is motivating me to write faster. The faster I fail, the faster I'll learn what I need to do to succeed.

07-31-2007, 04:10 AM
I could easily abandon the novel I'm working on now, and would like to, but I am going to get to the end if it kills me, or I kill the characters.

Chasing the Horizon
07-31-2007, 05:17 AM
For my completed novel I wrote over 250,000 words to end up with 120,000 usable words. Nine months after I started I'm now stuck on the final three scenes of the third rewrite. I've rewritten the beginning six times as well. Never, in all that time and with all difficulty, did I ever once so much as think about giving up. Even though I'm stuck right now, I would still never dream of just quitting and writing something else. I'm completely in love with the story.

This was not my first attempt at writing something. I have about 20 story beginnings on my computer and never once did I manage to complete so much as a short story. Then I had this idea, and had written 50,000 words before I even realized I was working on an actual novel, not a short story. I finally had the right idea.

I honestly couldn't imagine trying to write an entire novel where I thought I could actually at some point quit. Even a novella or short story would be next to impossible unless it relentlessly demanded to be written.

If you can give up on the story, then by all means, do, because it's probably not that great a story to begin with.

Christine N.
07-31-2007, 05:34 AM
You can always cannibalize it for characters and storylines in some other work.

The Lady
07-31-2007, 05:04 PM
I'm completely in love with the story.

I have about 20 story beginnings on my computer and never once did I manage to complete so much as a short story. Then I had this idea, and had written 50,000 words before I even realized I was working on an actual novel, not a short story. I finally had the right idea.

If you can give up on the story, then by all means, do, because it's probably not that great a story to begin with.

OK, I've answered a lot of the people on this thread by rep point in case you think I've forgotten anybody. I didn't. I read you all. :D And ponder.

See the thing is this is a short story/novella.

I have written and completed short stories before. I've brought about eight of them up to what I would consider a high standard. I've had one published, one broadcast on national radio(and shortlisted in a v. good competition) and another won me about 200 euro in a fairly local writing competition.

But my heart is in novels. This story has had about six weeks of my life, all told. I don't know do I love it but I do like it. (one day it could be a novel :D) and like I said before, I can now actually conceive of it, being structurally altered and actually working out.

But there's a novel kicking my bum, pardon the imagery and I think I'd prefer to bury my head in that. I had started work on it before and got sucked in by the lure of completing short stories (less delayed gratification there)
Also, don't they tell you, don't get suckered into short stories, novels are where careers are made. And I loooove novels, so that's an easy decision.

Now, I actually have never finished a novel before, not even a shaky old first draft, so I can see all the advise about not abandoning being very important there.

But I do think this one particular story has taken too much time, at this time.

I have got fonder of the characters and it has certainly taught me the importance of being sure of your world (when world building is part of a story as it will be in the novel. Not being sure of my world was 25% of the problem here) So, what I propose to do, is knock out the first draft of the novel, and then while it stews, give this story one last try, perhaps around Christmas.
But for now, no way. That convoluted mess has me beat in a temporary way, at least.

I've found that this approach is motivating me to write faster. The faster I fail, the faster I'll learn what I need to do to succeed.

Ah, yes, Meow Girl. Been there. I did a few gigantic nights with this one. Just brought in new plot turns and character growth and got that word count heaving and The End still tantalisingly out of reach. :D

You can always cannibalize it for characters and storylines in some other work.

No way. They'd only screw that up too. :D No, they're staying where they are, and I'll get back to them, around Christmas.

07-31-2007, 05:11 PM
By the way, I did abandon a project last night. This thread describes my original dilemma:


I ended up writing one article for the magazine, but decided to abandon the second one last night because I no longer wanted to work on a non-paying project that I didn't even enjoy. I had promised myself several months ago that I would submit only to paying markets from now on, so that reinforced my decision. I'm trying not to feel too guilty about it.

So there are exceptions to "finish what you start," I guess!

Cav Guy
07-31-2007, 05:16 PM
I don't typically abandon work, at least not in the sense of tossing it out, never to be seen again. I will go away from things for a time, especially when they start fighting me or wandering like you describe. After a few months I'll go back and take a look. Sometimes things can be saved, or that spark comes back. If not...I leave it on the back burner for a few more months.

I've found this works well for my creative process (which seems to run in ways that are contrary to accepted practice), but as always YMMV.

In non-fiction I've abandoned a fair number of projects. That has more to do with economic reasons, though (research was getting too expensive, no good paying market...that sort of thing). Those are tough, since I don't write about something unless I have a deep interest in it. But sometimes you just have to walk away. But even those projects linger in a box in the spare room. Waiting...

Danger Jane
07-31-2007, 08:52 PM
Maybe give it a little time then come back to it. But sometimes stuff you thought wasn't working turns out to if you sit on it for a little while and work on something else in the time between.

08-02-2007, 12:23 AM
I've only abandoned one screenplay - it was too similar to another idea I had. I liked the characters and the background, but I preferred the setting of the other idea. I've had ideas I've abandoned, though.

Yup, once I start, bitter end. I hope I learn something from the writing, so those weeks of my life aren't wasted.