- 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?