We all have those moments while creating a novel or short story when we think our current work-in-progress is terrible. No one will want to read it and if they do, they’re going to hate it. Those thoughts should be put in the garbage where they belong. They do not help. But, is there ever a time where you should abandon a book?
I’m not going to give you a yes or no. That’s a personal decision. You should find your own way of figuring out if a story should be scrapped. Some people have a full schedule and still find time to write. If you don’t think it’s a smart move to fit writing into your already packed schedule, don’t feel bad about stopping. Do what you feel is right for you.
I’ve published 14 stories and I’ve written more than twice that many. Most of them you’ll never see. Here are the reasons why I abandon certain stories. When I say abandon, I mean stories I’m fairly certain I won’t finish or publish. Not stories I’ve stopped fully intending to pick up later on.
The first novel syndrome
You’ve probably heard over and over again how your first novel will be crap. I don’t care for blanket statements like that but I can also see how that can be true for most people. With my first novels, I was still learning how to write. I made some mistakes, the kind that would require half, if not all, of the story to be deleted and rewritten. I could do that but I don’t feel enough passion for the story to do that. I have a lot of unfinished stories that need a lot of work but I don’t feel passionate enough to put in the effort.
That leads us to my second reason. Chains of the Sciell started as a story about a group of teenagers away at summer camp. They got possessed by aliens and went on a killing spree. It then became a story about magical teenagers stuck in DC’s Air and Space Museum. Then it became something else and something else before it turned into Chains of the Sciell. Something in me couldn’t let that story go. That’s what I mean by passion. Not whether I feel like writing or whether I’m motivated to write. The feeling that I cannot give up on the story. I didn’t just rewrite parts of the original story. I deleted everything and started over, several times.
When I don’t have that fire, it may not be the right time or the right story. If I can just stop and forget about it, then I move on to another story, keeping the abandoned one for inspiration or spare parts.
My style changed
You’re always learning. Your style changes. I may abandon a story because I don’t write that kind of stuff anymore. Years ago, I wrote a horror story set in DC. Now, I don’t set my stories in real-world places. When creating a novel, I use actual places as inspiration and create my own cities, towns and countries. That same story had “urban” slang. I don’t do that anymore.
It’s a great feeling finishing a novel. Sometimes, (most times) you have to force yourself to do it, pushing aside all those negative thoughts. On the other hand, some novels just don’t work. It may not be the right time for you to write that book. And, that’s okay too.
Did you ever abandon a novel?