When To Call It Quits

frustration1Have you even been in a situation with a book where it just doesn’t seem to be working. You started out with a great idea, characters are fleshed out and talking to you, the plot seems pretty tight and you’re into the first hundred or so pages. Suddenly, it all falls apart.

The characters you thought were so terrific now feel like stick figures, the plot is so full of holes that it’s a wonder it doesn’t leak … and that great idea … just doesn’t seem so great anymore. But wait! You’ve invested hours into this book and you’re into it for a hundred pages. What do you do? Back up and try to re-work it? Breathe some life into it and hope for the best? Or do you just bag it?

Fortunately, I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve been lucky in that each book I’ve started, I’ve been able to finish. Are they all good? Probably not. Would some of them improve with some major revisions? No doubt. But I don’t think I’ve written anything that I would just toss out. I think it’s the fact that I’ve invested so much time and effort into these stories that I could never bring myself to discard it.

Might not be practical in the long run, but I sincerely believe that no book is hopeless. You must have seen something in that story when you began it. Could be that you just need to set it aside for awhile (maybe years) and come back to it again one day. Maybe this is a story that just wasn’t meant to be written at this point in your career.

So what do you think? Do you have any books that you think might be salvaged? Or are you one to just chuck and write it off (no pun intended) to a learning experience?

About Liz Kreger

Liz Kreger writes science fiction/romances and to date, has two books published by Samhain Publishing ... FORGET ABOUT TOMORROW and PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. Liz is presently branching out to contemporary paranormals and is experimenting with urban fantasy.
This entry was posted in Liz's Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to When To Call It Quits

  1. Michelle says:

    I’ve only ever not finished one book, and I don’t think I ever will.

    But my first three completed books, while I would not inflict them on unsuspecting agents or editors, could come up to scratch with a total rewrite. Will I ever do that? Not sure, but particularly that first book, I’d love to give it a shot.

  2. Kath Calarco says:

    Liz, did I ever mention that your blogs are essential to my Mondays? Well, if not, I meant to. Today’s, in particular, has assured me that all my stutters and stops don’t make me a quitter. I have three WIPs stewing on the hard drive. I abandoned each for varying reasons, all that you mentioned. First and foremost, though, they just stopped talking to me.

    I know I’ll return to them because I always finish what I started, albeit slow. I’ll get there.

  3. Cynthia Eden says:

    Interesting post, Liz! I have started books that I haven’t finished. It’s pretty rare for me (and was more toward when I first started writing), but I don’t view those books as wastes. I like to think I learn something from every story. And I also like to think that maybe, just maybe, I’ll go back and finish these stories one day.

  4. spyscribbler says:

    There’s one… but I haven’t admitted defeat, yet. I make every single one work. The one in question is becoming a point of pride, so I expect I’ll finish it someday!

  5. Edie Ramer says:

    I’ve started a few that I didn’t finish. I like to try new things, and sometimes the stories don’t fit my voice. Or sometimes the idea was good but not enough to make a book.

    Your blog today is timely, because I’m having problems with my wip. I’ve lost the core story and I’m going to take time today to see where it went astray and how I can fix it. I love this story too much to give up on it.

  6. Marcia says:

    I’ve chucked manuscripts that aren’t working for me. In fact, I have about 20GB on my hard drive(s) of stories that have stopped singing to me, both finished and unfinished. Oddly enough, most were victims of a better idea coming along and sweeping up my attention. I might go back to some of them. Someday. But others? Not a snowball’s chance. The ones I had finished need some serious work and time that I’m unwilling to donate to them right now. Not when I have a WIP that’s singing like a soprano. 🙂

  7. Jody W. says:

    Sure, I have shelved things. So many ideas, so little time! But is shelving a chapter the same as shelving 100 pages? I have a 60,000 word manuscript shelved right now and another one I was cowriting with a friend that was nearly 50K before she quit writing and I got distracted by new baby stuff.

  8. Lee says:

    I think all my manuscripts that I’ve put to bed, half finished could probably be salvaged, if I took the time to do it. My problem is, when I don’t finish a book is I loose the momentum to keep it going. The plot holes become the Grand Canyon, and it needs major revisions. Then get struck with a new, and what I consider a better story, and move on. The problem I have, it leaves me several unfinished manuscripts. I have several finished too, but just as many waiting for CPR.

  9. Liz Kreger says:

    Whether to attempt a total remake has to be a personal decision, Michelle. When you think about it, fixing an entire book is a major undertaking. Great if you believe in it enough … waste of time if you don’t.

  10. Liz Kreger says:

    Awww, thanx, Kath. Glad my blogs can make your Mondays bearable. 😆 Three books languishing? Wow. Still, I know what you mean when they stop talking to you. Perhaps its a matter of they’re just not ready to continue the conversation, but will some day. Hope so … because it sounds like a lot of time and effort put into them.

  11. Liz Kreger says:

    Y’know, Cyn? I was just thinking of that. Each book is never a waste of time, but rather a learning experience. I know that stuff I’ve written long ago isn’t nearly as good as what I’m doing now … IMO. I have one that with a lot of revision will be a good book. I would never abandom it, but I gotta get off my butt and get going on the revisions.

  12. Liz Kreger says:

    LOL. I hear ya, Spy. Never say die.

  13. Liz Kreger says:

    I can see where interests change, Edie. I’ve been fortunate in that paranormals seem to be a natural fit for me. I know that if I were to attempt a romantic/suspense or comedy, that I would lose interest and never get beyond the first few pages. I’ve had ideas that never went anywhere because the genre didn’t interest me enough.

    Good luck in getting back on track with your WIP, Edie. Its a good one and I’d hate to see it get sidetracked.

  14. Liz Kreger says:

    Oooo, I can’t see chucking entire manuscripts, Marcia. I’m of the belief that nothing is hopeless and given how much time you must have invested in this work … I’d have a hard time giving up on anything.

    Still, if you’re comfortable doing that …

  15. LaDonna says:

    Hey Liz, terrific blog! 🙂 I’ve finished all mine, except the one I was working on when I started edits on Butterfly. I intend to finish that one in the future. I love it too much not to.

    The one I’m presently working on is going slower, and I’m basically taking it apart like Edie to see what’s what. It breaks my heart to set a story aside, probably why it only happened once.

    I have many, though, that I’d love to rewrite one day and sub. 🙂

  16. Liz,

    Great post. I’ve never chucked a ms. I’ve left them alone for a while, one I left for a few years but when I came back to it, the story flowed. In the meantime, I had written another which flowed. So I guess the story wasn’t quite ready the first time.

    My theory, and this is only my mantra, is I never give up on a story totally. Just set it aside thinking it’s not ready yet, or I need to do more thinking on it, like Edie says she’s doing today.

  17. One. But I did finish it. At the time I started it, I couldn’t make the plot work. I tried everything, finally shelved it and wrote a different book. Then I came back and finished it. That book (Stolen Seduction) will release next year. For me it really was the “not the right time to write this” situation.

    And for the record? I ALWAYS hit the “falling apart” stage with every book. But for me it happens about 3/4 of the way through, not at the 100 pg mark, and by then I’m so ready to be done, the thought of giving up doesn’t even cross my mind.

  18. Liz Kreger says:

    Wow, Jody. I don’t think I could bring myself to shelve a book that I’ve invested so much time in. A chapter or two? Maybe, but not a 60,000 word manuscript. Personally, it would make me nuts. 😆 However, I do understand the concept of new ideas and an eagerness to move on to new projects.

    (Babies also have the tendency to take a lot of time)

  19. Liz Kreger says:

    That’s a situation where “when I have time I’ll take care of the problem”, Lee. Trouble is, we never seem to find the time. Plus there always seems to be bigger and better things to move on to.

  20. Liz Kreger says:

    Way to go, LaD. You sound tenacious with your stories. Finish it and then move on. 😆

  21. Liz Kreger says:

    That’s what I suspect would happen to a lot of people, Mary Jo. Sometimes you just have to leave a story alone for awhile (whether months or years). Sooner or later, its ready to be written Something about that story attracted you in the first place. Perhaps its just a matter of distance making the heart fonder.

  22. Liz Kreger says:

    Fantastic, Liz! My one book that was a potential to be shelved as the very first book I’d ever written. Turned out this was the second book I eventually sold to Samhain. It did go through major revisions, but I had enough faith in this story that it was worth the effort to work it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the point where I thought a story was falling apart. (Knock on wood). This is probably because I tend to picture scenes and the story in my mind. I’m continuously mulling over the story and figuring out directions … even when I’m not actively writing.

  23. Jody W. says:

    Liz–maybe if my 60K manuscript had been destined to be a 100K manuscript, yeah, but the rate it was going, we were talking 200+ (epic fantasy), plus far too many idiotic plot choices that nobody but me would think was either funny or cool. It needs to be totally overhauled as a YA, but I’d rather start something else from scratch! As for the book with my cowriter, I can’t legally finish it, really, because she’s not writing any more.

Comments are closed.