How do you know when to let a story die? I've had some characters since middle school and their story has changed dozens of times since then. I finally, finally say down and put the time in and made a plotline, fleshed out each arc and background story, tied up the loose ends. But I simply don't find the actual writing part fun anymore. It's like I've told myself the same story so many times that I'm tired of it. Forcing myself is only draining my will even more. Advice?
Old stories never die – your significant other just keeps 17 copies of the novella he wrote in college on successive hard drives of the past 20 years and there’s a stack of hard drives taking up a corner of the book shelf where actual books could be and – sorry, got distracted there.
If you’ve stopped having fun, it’s time to find new stories and new characters to tell them. That old writing was practice for the new writing you’re going to do. It sounds like from your question that you are ready to move on.
Just save your old work. You might someday find a character hole that one of your old friends can fill.
– mod Aliya, who is also a digital packrat and cannot really complain
Anonymous asked: How do I know if my plot is moving too fast? And if I feel it is too much too early, how can I slow it down? I don’t want to bore readers but I’m worried I’ll run out of story.
I have run into this problem more than once and the easiest way I’ve ever gotten around it is by writing my first draft quickly so I can get the story written down. If your plot is moving way too fast and it’s your first draft, don’t worry. That’s the time you shouldn’t worry about the pace all that much.
Worry about pace in your second draft. This is something I swear by because I have written fast, shallow drafts that are maybe 20,000 words, and by the time I’m finished with a revision, it’s about 60,000 words. (I know 60,000 is pretty short for a novel, but that was more of a pet project for a friend than an attempt at writing something to publish. I’m proud of it nonetheless). So where did that 40,000 or so words appear from between the two drafts?
Reimagine the story with vivid scenes. In a quick first draft, the first thing that drops out for me is always description, a lot of the details about the setting, and action the characters can be doing in each scene. My first drafts are full of characters sitting around talking. It’s so much more interesting to make them do something. Working one scene at a time makes a big difference. I’m not anxious about it because I already know what’s going to happen next so this part of the revision is actually pretty fun.
Time to flesh out minor characters. You know what the protagonist is doing, now take a look at what everyone else is doing. While a lot of times I’ve considered some of this and have an idea of what is going on in the lives of all the minor characters, in the revision, I have to draw that out further.
Extra scenes needed? Sometimes the story is really moving too fast. In those cases, I first look to see where I can add some kind of lull in the story. If the protagonist has just escaped the clutches of evil, I try give them a moment to catch their breath. This is a great moment for the protagonist to process whatever just happened and it will help with the pacing of the story.