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It's For The Best. . . Abandoning Your Messy Story

It's For The Best. . . Abandoning Your Messy Story
  • The one about werewolves on the subway
  • The one about a renegade karate instructor
  • That one about the woman with the mysterious blood
  • The other one about the grannies that solve the pill mill ring. 

For every story I write that makes its way to your e-readers, there's at least two or three that end up not surviving past it's first few chapters. I end up seeing that I only had enough material for a strong intro then I lose steam once I see that this is truly going nowhere. 

My inoculation against these self-terminating stories is to write an outline before all else. Even my shortest stories all have a framework I'm working with to ensure that no matter what deviations I take, all paths lead back to the original goal of the story. 

Once my story skeleton is done, I find it easy to daydream about filling in all of the missing details that really make writing fun. How can I really complicate the protagonist's life to make it seem impossible for him to achieve his goal? Where can I throw in a joke or two? What boundaries can I set to ensure I don't wander too far from the path?

Still, I want to find utility in these abandoned concepts. On occasion, I'll convert a strong beginning of a book into its own short story. There always the nuclear option of simply using the concept that I fell in love with as a hyper short piece of flash fiction and chalk the whole thing up. 

What are your strategies for coping with a story you fear abandoning?

When do you know it's time to let go?

What do you think of this story?

Heart eyes Beautiful  
Thinking face Thought-provoking 1
Nerd face Inspiring 1
Grinning Entertaining  
Open mouth Jaw-dropping  
Cry Moving  
Money mouth face Biased  
Triumph Annoying