Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When Do You Abandon a WIP?

So, you're writing along, loving your story, loving your characters, loving torturing your characters and suddenly . . . BAM! Wall. Maybe it's "writer's block" and you should just push through it. Maybe some part of your story or plot is just too flawed to fix without a complete overhaul. Maybe that other story that has been niggling at the back of your brain has just become too shiny.

Whatever the excuse, you are no longer excited to write the story.

You no longer love your characters.

Torturing your characters no longer gives you the thrill it used to.

You don't particularly care what happens at the end.

Were every last one of your characters to perish in a sudden ninja-zombie apocalypse, you'd be okay with that.

You've tried for weeks, and you just can't figure out why the antagonist wants what they want--or why the hero would be against that.

If you were reading this book, you'd put it down.  Forcing yourself to continue feels as exciting as studying for the bar exam. Writing one more page will cause your brain to melt.

So Stop. 

Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo. All month, I pushed myself to write 50,000 words. And I did it. I wrote Every. Last. Word. Then, a few months later, I forced myself to outline (yeah . . . backwards). Most of the original 50,000 went in the wrong direction. (I'm not a very good pantser.) So I threw most of it out and started writing it again. I followed the outline. It was mostly interesting, but I just ran out of steam. I'd figured out what the antagonist wanted during the outline stage, but it made less and less sense as I wrote. Finally, though I was pretty sure what came next, it was just too boring to think about.

That's why I have this folder:

The Trunk isn't the end. Maybe I'll pull it out in a few months, dust it off, suddenly have an epiphany, and decide to finish it. In the meantime, it's just another half-finished novel. And that's okay.

I get to work on New-Shiny now.

Have you ever abandoned a WIP halfway through? Was it hard? Have you ever finished writing a book and wished you'd stopped halfway through?


  1. I have actually, for me it was I didn't feel I was doing the story justice and wanted give it time to marinate before I went back to it.

  2. I'm fabulous at abandoning books around chapter 8. There's only one time I pushed past that and didn't finish writing/polishing the book. So, if I think I story really needs to be told, I force myself to make it passed chapter 8. It's worked well so far. Get out what I want on an idea, but feel I can through it if needed, or actually make myself finish things.

  3. I found your blog from the GUTGAA event. I couldn't resist checking out a few blogs before the event started and following them as well.

    I loved your line about the trunk in this post. Ya put something away and then come back to it.I also loved your 'about me' section. It was really fun and different.I love your plaid background too.

    Russo @ www.threegnomes.blogspot.com

  4. A timely question for me as I have started and abandoned several WIPs recently and it is usually when I am just not feeling it. I know it's all coming out forced and stilted and I am not bowled over enough to get to the end and then revise. Hopefully the newest idea is a winner. Following links from GUTGAA so following.

  5. as a plotter, when i outline a novel i can feel if i the story is going to make it thru the honeymoon phase or if i'm going to have to force myself to suffer thru a boring relationship out of stubbornness. if the outline makes me smile, i go for it! but sometimes ugly blocks might creep in later, thats when i question if its worth it to keep going or break up!

    right now i am totally in lve with my wip's. ready to edit & keep tweaking as i query. my problem is knowing when/to quit trying to find an agent/publisher...