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The story that I can’t write

I had this idea for a story well over a year ago. I wrote it but something didn’t quite work. I posted it for critique in The Fiction Workhouse. They said it had many flaws and suggested I concentrate on one part and cut another. I left it to simmer. I have kept on thinking about it, wondering how it could be strengthened. I sat down recently and tried again. I thought I’d had some great inspirational idea. I cut parts ruthlessly, wrote some new bits. I left in the stuff that had positive feedback, expanded it. Then I asked a couple of writers whose opinions I respect to take a look. One said there was too much that was unrealistic and I should chop those parts. I did. I sent it to another 2 writers. They both said, hmmm, not your best work, and it could really do with some more magic. One even went on to describe exactly what I had cut.

Still, nobody actually thinks it “good’. And I have been left utterly baffled. I think I have lost what my original vision was, and in trying to please I may well have cut the heart out.
I’d love to know if any of the other writers who read this have been defeated by one particular story. Does it mean the story is doomed? Or perhaps I just haven’t found the right way to tell it yet.
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5 responses »

  1. Rightly or wrongly (if that is a word!) I always finish every story. Even to the point that I won’t start someting else until it is finished. I won’t always be happy with it in the end, so might not send it off anywhere, but I like to work until at least the 4th draft and see what happens in the process to the story.It is just my method though and probably dangerous – since I am bound to get a story which cannot be tamed and end up stuck!

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  2. Kerry – I have finished the story what feels like a zillion times. It’s just that it’s not working. So do I dump it forever, leave and see what happens, or keep pushing on? I’m all out of ideas!

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  3. Oh god, yes! I have a story I have written maybe 100 drafts of, coming at it from every imaginable angle. I love the premise – elderly man sits in library slicing out pages of books – but the actual plot eludes me. Why?? Why is he doing it? I thought I knew, an early version of the story got shortlisted for a comp, but it didn’t matter because it just wasn’t working for me. I felt like I was beating my head against a wall… and as of now I have given up. I am not even looking at it. I am hoping some magic will happen and it will come to me – who he is, why he is doing what he;s doing.One thing that did help was that I did rewrite the story as a tiny flash. Or not rewrite, start with the same premise and let myself go, played with it, it came out more like poetry. I love the flash, but it still doesn’t satisfy me that I have written the story I feel I really want to write. I haven’t found the Story yet. Let it go. You have to. It will come back to you again, some time, somewhere. Put it away. No other course of action. Peraps somewhere, in the middle of another story, it will come to you, how it should work. Or it was never meant to be a story. Who knows?

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  4. Sara- Yep I’m with Tania put it away for 6 months or a year. Who knows what will happen in the meantime which could influence the story. I have still have so few stories that I hold onto them all for dear life but if they aren’t good enough I put them in a “future possibles” folder and hope, when I take a peek a few months down the line, they’ll be masterpieces!

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  5. hello! yes, I have a story like that. My first bit of writing. It’s a bloody winner, I’m sure of it but it’s got stuck. I’m stuck with it. Not in the mood, don’t think it matters if I write it or not. That’s where I’m at with it. So, if I get in the mood and find it has some sort of resonance with me as I am now, I dare say I’ll crack on with it but until then, it remains on a memory stick somewhere – I forget where.

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