When should you ditch a story?

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To date, all the stories I wrote for my uni assignments have remained untouched on my USB since graduation. It’s been around five years now and I know that I might never go back to them. And that’s ok. There are a quite a few reasons why I’m probably not going to bother with them and they are:

  • I don’t like them (I wrote them to criteria guidelines and not entertainment).
  • There are other stories I like more or think are worthwhile writing.
  • I know they are bad (Bad, being plot).

Some time ago I opened a short 2,500 word story and tried to see if I could make it worthy of self-publishing. It turned out that my first ever story I wrote for uni was pretty effing terrible. No wonder I barely passed that class. I could make the sentence structure better, but I couldn’t get over the plot holes and it was cliched as hell. Give me an award for reaching the cringe-worthy level of over 9000!

I also have other stories that are not from uni that are currently dormant because I’ve been neglecting them for a variety of reasons;

  • They’ve got a good base, but need more attention and ideas added.
  • More recent stories are taking up my spare time and my growth as a writer has improved their first draft quality to the point of encouragement.
  • Something about it just doesn’t seem right and I can’t quite put my finger on it (Trust your gut guys and move onto something else in the meantime).

What I was interested in a few years ago has changed and it will probably change again. One of the biggest things I can say to other people would be if you think something is not right about your story then you’re on to something. Notice I said not right instead of wrong? That’s because there are more than one way to tell a story or write a novel.

When you come to a place like this, it is best that you take a break of however long you think you might need for you to wrap your head around it. Be it a few hours to a few weeks. I like to think of my stories as I’m working behind the bar at work. It gives me time to plan what I think are the best routes to take. Personality wise, I’m more of a ‘take my time to plan’ instead of rush ahead because I’ve learnt that it is how I make mistakes.

That being said, some stories are just bad through and through. Even as a child I was picking up on things in books that disrupted the entire reading experience. Whether it be a single sentence of being preached to or a single word that is the wrong tense (These were from traditionally published books too). You could have a decent story, but a book’s sense of verisimilitude is just as important. And this could be the thing that doesn’t make it worthwhile and you have to ask yourself, Should I go back and try to fix or just ditch? And the answer is yours and what you think is best for you.

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