When Nathan Bransford offers writing or publishing advice, we listen…and advise y’all (especially prose writers) to do the same. Today, his guest author, , gives us some super important info, namely, how to stop yourself from continuing to write in what could be a fatal (metaphorically only, of course) direction.
For the last year and a half, I’ve written nearly a dozen drafts of a novel. I wrote (or rewrote) 1,000 words every day, cancelled plans to work on my novel, and dreamed of publication.
Recently, I decided to put my novel in the drawer and move on. It was gut-wrenching, but I know it was the right thing to do.
In this post, I’ll talk about why I came to that decision, how to mourn an unfixable novel, and how to move on.
Knowing when it’s time to let go
About six months into the writing process, I knew my novel wasn’t going to work.
My plot was boring. I would re-read the story and find myself tuning out after the first third of the book. If reading it was boring, you can imagine how boring it was to write; I had to bribe myself with cookies to finish chapters.
A boring plot is not necessarily the final death knell of a novel-in-progress. So I re-plotted individual chapters and added more spice, ultimately writing five more drafts and about 100,000 more words.
Unfortunately, my characters were grieving (there’s a lot of death in the book), so a more energetic plot didn’t match their motivations. I was adding surface-level excitement to a fundamentally uninteresting story arc. The book was just a series of emotionally intense but pointless scenes.