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Author Topic: Unfinished Work
Member # 6724

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Hi guys.

I am totally new to writing. I've written more in the last 2 months than ever before.

I have been finding that I will get an idea that i think is legendary and start writing it up. But I have been finding lately that I hit a wall and start on something new.

I have about 7 different stories that I started and went hard on for a while, then I hit a wall and just stopped.

Is this normal? Do people often just go on and then hit a spot and say "this sucks" or "now what?" and put the work aside/ throw it out?. Should you struggle on and finish it anyway? I think it might be easier to throw them out if I finished them first (if that makes sense).

how bout the rest of you? how do you handle these situations, if you ever have them?

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Robert Nowall
Member # 2764

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Lots of times. I've had novels die on me after as much as fifty thousand words, and hosts of short stories that died after one or two pages. But I get interested in doing something else (or doing nothing at all), and they go on my figurative backburner.

The weight of them oppresses me from time to time. But when I'm working on something else---not right now, I'm in a dry spell---things look better to me.

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Member # 7110

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I've got a ton of unfinished stories on my hard drive, to the point of it being almost ridiculous. Occasionally I go back and mine good ideas out of them to use in more stories that end up abandoned, but slowly I've been coalescing some really good ones.

But anyway, it's all right. It happens, and sometimes you go back and work on them some more.

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Member # 5174

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Never throw anything away - if you really loved an idea to begin with, you will eventually find out the right place and way to use it.
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Member # 5952

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Yes. Many many writers go through this. I know I have. The trick is to just barrel on through. Take it on faith that the story is going somewhere and just go for it.

This came up in another thread recently... I'll try to dig it up.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Member # 59

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One possible reason for this is that the story needs at least one more idea to make it finishable.

A suggested exercise would be to first pull out two things: your list of ideas that you haven't done anything with yet and your pile of unfinished stories.

Second, you take one of the unfinished manuscripts and pick one of your unused ideas. If you like, you can write one each on a set of 3x5 file cards, turn them over, and "pick a card, any card," or if they are listed on a single sheet of paper, close your eyes and wave your hand around and then put your finger down on the paper, then open your eyes and see which idea your finger is closest to.

Third, try to figure out how the idea you have "randomly" selected could be worked into your unfinished manuscript. You may have to do some major rewriting to work it in, but if you come up with something, it will be worth it, right?

You can also do the random selection with two to three ideas, and see how you can make them work together.

You can take a couple of unfinished manuscripts and put them next to each other and then take an idea and see if it will help you combine those two manuscripts (or the ideas those manuscripts are based on).

These are all suggestions that may or may not work, but if they can help you get excited again about something you haven't finished, they're certainly worth a try.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited February 04, 2008).]

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Member # 5638

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I've been finding the flash fiction challenges quite helpful in this regard. Now, instead of a pile of unfinishable stuff, I have a pile of unfinished--but finishable--material. I regard that as progress.

Short fiction isn't to everyone's taste. I happen to like it, and I find that the flash challenges make me write a story from beginning to end, complete with a small number of characters, a plot, and a hook. When I revise them, some will stay at around 1000 words and others will grow. Either way is okay, I know the story is there, somewhere.

(Also, in my newfound wisdom, when I look at the older unfinishable stuff I'm beginning to see ideas I can use some time in future, and why it wasn't finishable. I'm glad I kept it.)

There's one thing, Devnal--at least you're writing.


[This message has been edited by TaleSpinner (edited February 04, 2008).]

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Member # 6724

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Could someone be a dear and explain to me what "flash fiction" is? I worked it out in my head to just be ultra short fiction stories. is this all it is?

If so, how short does it have to be to be flash fiction?

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Member # 4080

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Go buy OSCís characters & viewpoint (ISBN 0-89879-927-9) as it is actually very helpful but also contains some interesting techniques to challenge you to come up with new directions.

Obviously, different things work for different people but I personally have to get excited about one story and spend so much time imagining the characters that they become my friends. If I have too many stories mulling around in my head none of it is likely to live on the page very convincingly.

With regard to writing, the most overwhelming thing to me is the constant warnings from successful writers that writing requires much much more effort than 99.99999 percent of the population would ever bother to do. Some of the greats seem to find it quite irritating when they hear people say that they think they could write a novel if they just had the time. Point in case is an article by Kevin J. Anderson in the middle of the latest WOTF book.

I have to believe (since I didnít start writing when I was five) that there are essentially two types of successful writers. Those who meet with success because their sheer determination and effort simply overwhelms the odds, and those who are just talented. The talented may not start writing until theyíre 50 but once they do, their uneven, untaught natural rhythm is just magical.

For example, I believe a metronome would completely throw off a truly gifted pianist who places emotional pauses in the music like a well-acted scene from a play. Thereís just no counting the space between love and loss and new life. It is what it is, if itís real. I knew a teenager like that once. Never had a lesson in his life. Couldnít read a lick of music and far too lazy to try. Hardly ever played. But he could play anything. He could just make stuff up on the spot, all you had to do was provide the emotion. Someone died or someone was born but the mother died during the birth. Anything you could dream up really. He could put tears in your eyes with 88 keys. It was his timing. A joyful, high-end, rapid twinkle, like fairies in the sun or a sustained note of sadness and loss like a distant church lamenting a passed son.

Well anyway, thatís what I believe. A rather self-serving belief, I admit. Since, if I am wrong we should all just give it up now. At least thatís what Kevin J. Anderson would have us believe.


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Member # 7392

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I have to confess that I often fall victim to the same sorts of tendencies. The important thing is to make sure that your idea's don't perish all together. If you keep them in a word file you'll be able to review them as necessary,
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Member # 4849

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Flash Fiction is generally under one thousand words.

Flash Fiction challenges usually consist of a trigger (writing prompt) and limit the time you have to complete them. It's a great way to think on your feet, and keep writing. Sometimes you get a short-short (flash fiction piece) and other times you get the beginning of a larger story, or an outline.

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Grant John
Member # 5993

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I had this problem while writing the last book of my trilogy, I just couldn't find a way to go on, and I set it aside for over 12 months feeling quite annoyed seeing I had worked for years writing the first two and I really liked them, but how could I sell the first two books of a trilogy I believed I could never finish?

Then one day I was really bored and did my very own marathon of The Lord of the Rings extended editions (yes all 9 glorious hours) and I realised the fun of the first two books wasn't present in the third, my characters had grown up too much, become too powerful, become too arrogant. The next week I wrote the other half of the novel, writing more each day than I have ever done before. Find why you loved writing the start and make sure you haven't lost it.


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