Knowing When To Quit

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This post is not about quitting writing. No, even in my darkest moment I don’t seriously consider that. It’s about knowing when to give up an idea that’s just not working.

I have been struggling with the urban fantasy WIP for months – nay, it’s years now. Having started from the beginning four times, and never getting more than 10,00 words in, I knew in my heart there was a serious problem. So I sent it out to a few beta readers to get some other opinions. And all the beta readers, independently and unanimously, have told me that the plot, for a variety of reasons, just isn’t working.

There are some parts that can be salvaged. Some good ideas have come out of my world-building, including a sub-plot involving Loki the Nordic trickster god that seems to have some mileage. But the main plot has to be scrapped, as everyone who’s read the WIP thinks it’s either too weak, too flawed or just plain not working. And I think I need to get a better handle on my main character, too.

In some ways this is a bit depressing, but to be honest it’s nothing I didn’t already know, deep down. The problem is I now have a couple of characters and a sub-plot, but not enough to fill a full-length novel and no idea what the main plot’s going to be. So I have decided to abandon this WIP for the time being. Maybe if I let the idea stew in my head for a while, it’ll cook up something tasty in time.

Sometimes you get too close to a manuscript to be able to see its flaws. That’s when its useful to get other opinions. And painful as it might be, there are times you have to let go of the idea you’ve been dogging so hard you can no longer see that it’s falling apart. And I think that’s where I am at the moment.

So I’m letting go of my supernatural private eye for now. Some time ago she stopped talking to me, and I failed to listen. I’m rather hoping that some day soon she’ll appear again, saying, “this is my story, and this is how to tell it”. At that point I’ll go back to the computer and write it down.

In the meantime, I’m going to carry on chronicling my amateur sleuth’s adventures. She’s been talking to me quite a lot of late. It’s time to listen.

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