H is for Hanging It Up

   Posted by: Faith   in Everything Else

How do you know when a story just isn’t working?hangers

You know those stories. The ones that came out of a moment of genius & inspiration, the ones that you sit down to work on and end up pounding out the first 5,000 words in one afternoon.

The ones that, when that afternoon ends, come to a screeching halt as you scramble to avoid hitting that sudden, looming brick wall.

You mull. You plot and replot. You try one direction, the another, one point of view, then another. You let it sit for three months, read it again—love it—and then realize you’re still as stuck as you were three months ago.

Is it time to let that story go?

How do you know when to hang it up and move on?

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 9th, 2011 at 3:23 pm and is filed under Everything Else. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far


When to let go is something I still have yet to figure out. I think I just try and go with a gut instinct,and even that’s not always clear.

April 12th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I don’t know…there were times I lost inspiration on a fanfic and just couldn’t write anymore, but those were very, very rare. With all the novels I’ve written in the past seven years (my co-author Faith and I have written three, and I’ve written three by myself) I haven’t given up on any of them. The one that I’ve written over the past year was SO HARD at first. I had characters, and I loved them and wanted to write them, but the plot would just not solidify. I couldn’t even get past the first chapter for a while! I finally had to step back and forget everything I thought I knew, and totally restructure the plot. It worked! But as I began writing it, I soon found how hard it really was. I got to 18,000 words and was so frustrated because nothing was working, and it felt like all I’d been doing was dragging the characters along and trying to get them to WORK. And then my co-author told me, “Commit, Laura!” and I did. And you know what? It took me until I got to 45,000 words into the novel before all the characters finally clicked and it felt natural to write them. It has never taken me so long on anything I’ve written for that to happen. But when it did, it was total relief. I knew exactly who they were, where they were going, what they would do in a given situation. The book is now in the hands of my betas and it is 115,000 words long.

Would this have worked on another story? I don’t know. Every writer is different, and every story is different. Maybe you can find a different angle by talking to a writer friend–or a non-writer friend–who can help bounce plot. I would be lost without my friends, the ones who tell me to commit and the ones who let me email them long, rambling messages going, “these are my ideas but I don’t know what to do or if this makes sense!” or the ones who read the story as I’m writing it so that they can help point out when something isn’t working or a character is acting out of character. Sometimes we get so close to our stories that we can’t see clearly.

April 12th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

It’s true, every writer IS different. There are stories that I gave up on a few years ago that I still *hope* to go back to and try to fix… but I wonder if I should just let them go. But it would be a shame to never give them a second chance! It’s the clarity of distance that definitely helps.

April 14th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

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