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To shelve or not to shelve? (1 Viewer)

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KatPC

Senior Member
To shelve or not to shelve?
That is the question.

I have just finished a very rough first draft of a novella. Its around 8k words long and I created then whole story around a name. Being a 'pantser,' I happily wrote, with no boundaries, letting the words flow and the story develop, only to come to the end and becoming totally unsatisfied with the ending. Having gone back and did a quick read through, I noticed the story lost its way, and two stories emerged. I have been pondering for some time about what to do next. To cut one part of the story, is possible, however there are many interlinked points, which if deleted will need major reworking and will cut the novella by half.

Shelve it and put this down as good practice?
Save it and rework the whole thing!?
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Hmmm....try this. Heads you put down to good practice. Tails you rework the whole thing. Flip the coin and if you are disappointed with the result of the toss, then there's your answer.

But... my gut feeling says don't shelve. Make the two stories work. There is nothing wrong with two plots...in fact, it is desirable.

 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
To shelve or not to shelve?
That is the question.

I have just finished a very rough first draft of a novella. Its around 8k words long and I created then whole story around a name. Being a 'pantser,' I happily wrote, with no boundaries, letting the words flow and the story develop, only to come to the end and becoming totally unsatisfied with the ending. Having gone back and did a quick read through, I noticed the story lost its way, and two stories emerged. I have been pondering for some time about what to do next. To cut one part of the story, is possible, however there are many interlinked points, which if deleted will need major reworking and will cut the novella by half.

Shelve it and put this down as good practice?
Save it and rework the whole thing!?
I’m not a pantser so can’t give the best advice, but I suggest you tackle this issue as you would untangle a knot. Pull the threads out and see where they intersect and separate and move things about so your stories work together.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
This doesn't really give us enough information to make a good recommendation, but based on the sketchy information, I'd recommend you put more thought into it and find a way to bring your two story threads back together into a satisfactory ending, finishing the story with something you're happy with. Finishing is good experience, and everything you finish gives you more confidence the next time out. Also, taking a plotting puzzle like that, solving it, and making it work, is a confidence builder.

You're the author. You're in control. So take control and make it work.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
I'm with @vranger. A closer look at the piece would be needed to tell for certain. Like if the stories are jarringly different tone or subject or meaning, they might need to be separated to each show their best. (Just a thought, without seeing the text)

However, since you pantsed your way into this, there must have been a necessary reason the stories came together as they did. Those "many interlinked points" are there for a reason. I'd look closely and see what's tying them together and explore what is flowing between them that would be lost if they were separated.

Because of those possible mysterious forces, I'm with @Taylor's make them work. That feels most true to your original intent. Since you're at 8K you've plenty of space to construct a likely "cocoon" to envelop them both.

Oops. Did I just suggest a third story? This could get messy, no?

PS:
Shelve [Save] it and put this down as good practice
Save it and rework the whole thing

[2021-08-06 2245]
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
I can't advise you one way or another but I've just been through similar although mine is 95k words!

Rather than just shelve, could you do a sort of re-write? It's what I've started to do, carve it into sections and tweak where needed and completely redo the ones where it doesn't work using your experiences from writing the 1st draft as a learning tool.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
To shelve or not to shelve?
That is the question.

I have just finished a very rough first draft of a novella. Its around 8k words long and I created then whole story around a name. Being a 'pantser,' I happily wrote, with no boundaries, letting the words flow and the story develop, only to come to the end and becoming totally unsatisfied with the ending. Having gone back and did a quick read through, I noticed the story lost its way, and two stories emerged. I have been pondering for some time about what to do next. To cut one part of the story, is possible, however there are many interlinked points, which if deleted will need major reworking and will cut the novella by half.

Shelve it and put this down as good practice?
Save it and rework the whole thing!?
I am also deliberating on what to do with my novel (about 80,000 words) written in 2012 for NaPo. Do I try and resuscitate it or let it languish for another ten years on my hard drive never to see the light of day. I used the stream of consciousness technique haha... and never went back to edit. Didn't have the luxury of time.

Once you've hit 10 valid posts you will become a senior member ... why not post a couple of chapters to the Fiction WS to assess style etc.?
 

Turnbull

Senior Member
Okay, let's see...

1. Let the story rest in your brain and pick it up six months from now for a more objective approach.
2. Find a beta reader and get a new opinion.
3. Take each story path and imagine what would happen if you followed that path. Pick the one you like better.
4. Use the story as a prequel to two concurrent story series.
5. Write some completely new story and move on with your life.
6. Have some tea, think a while, and then add another completely different path that doesn't match up with either one.
7. I dunno...maybe make mashed potatoes, or something.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
This doesn't really give us enough information to make a good recommendation, but based on the sketchy information, I'd recommend you put more thought into it and find a way to bring your two story threads back together into a satisfactory ending, finishing the story with something you're happy with. Finishing is good experience, and everything you finish gives you more confidence the next time out. Also, taking a plotting puzzle like that, solving it, and making it work, is a confidence builder.

You're the author. You're in control. So take control and make it work.
I apologise for the lack of clarity. I wrote this story for a friend, she is in this forum so I don't want to reveal too much. During my research (into short stories) to make a 'good' short;, there shouldn't be too many plots as it will lose focus and always to provide a happy ending for a reader. I am not sure about this thus it has led to more questions in my head. The main story is based around a young girl named Mitsou, but to move the story along, I added a female character to the male protagonist, to help develop the story into a different way. In order to justify her inclusion, I developed a simple backstory, thus merging two stories into one, my worry is if the 'main' story about Mitsou is lost.


I can't advise you one way or another but I've just been through similar although mine is 95k words!

Rather than just shelve, could you do a sort of re-write? It's what I've started to do, carve it into sections and tweak where needed and completely redo the ones where it doesn't work using your experiences from writing the 1st draft as a learning tool.

I am open to all suggestions. I am happy with the start and middle, but the ending I am not overly pleased with hence my question.

I am also deliberating on what to do with my novel (about 80,000 words) written in 2012 for NaPo. Do I try and resuscitate it or let it languish for another ten years on my hard drive never to see the light of day. I used the stream of consciousness technique haha... and never went back to edit. Didn't have the luxury of time.

Once you've hit 10 valid posts you will become a senior member ... why not post a couple of chapters to the Fiction WS to assess style etc.?
Oh dear. I have a first draft novel too, 80,000 words as well. It's a lovely story but full of mistakes, hence a writing friend advised me to start small and work this way.
P.S. I know about the posts and workshops thank you.

Okay, let's see...

1. Let the story rest in your brain and pick it up six months from now for a more objective approach.
2. Find a beta reader and get a new opinion.
3. Take each story path and imagine what would happen if you followed that path. Pick the one you like better.
4. Use the story as a prequel to two concurrent story series.
5. Write some completely new story and move on with your life.
6. Have some tea, think a while, and then add another completely different path that doesn't match up with either one.
7. I dunno...maybe make mashed potatoes, or something.

:D
I certainly won't let it sit for six months, but reworking seems like the best suggestion.


Oops. Did I just suggest a third story? This could get messy, no?

It won't be number three, one is enough.
:)
 

Lawless

Senior Member
Shelve it and put this down as good practice?
Save it and rework the whole thing!?

I would ask a completely different question:

"What do I want to write now?"

I mean, you want to write something, don't you?

Do you have a story idea that is closer to your heart than this novella you're not happy with? If yes, write it and let the novella wait for its time. But if the novella is closer to your heart, work on improving it.

I put an SF novel that was maybe 4/5 complete on hold because I got more excited about a fanfic novel. It was a pity, kind of, but I felt the new project was more important to me. It proved the right decision. As of today, I've posted 272 chapters of that fanfic thing. There'll be 10 or 20 more chapters and it'll be finished. Then I can return to that SF novel and I'll be very happy to meet it again, so to speak, having gained some distance and hopefully some new insights.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
I would ask a completely different question:

"What do I want to write now?"

I mean, you want to write something, don't you?

Do you have a story idea that is closer to your heart than this novella you're not happy with? If yes, write it and let the novella wait for its time. But if the novella is closer to your heart, work on improving it.

I put an SF novel that was maybe 4/5 complete on hold because I got more excited about a fanfic novel. It was a pity, kind of, but I felt the new project was more important to me. It proved the right decision. As of today, I've posted 272 chapters of that fanfic thing. There'll be 10 or 20 more chapters and it'll be finished. Then I can return to that SF novel and I'll be very happy to meet it again, so to speak, having gained some distance and hopefully some new insights.

How interesting. We all have different situations and I would happily classify myself as a Recovering Amateur. I have an 80k first draft novel that is my main goal, but I set that aside to write shorts to improve my style and narrative voice, at present I make too many novice mistakes and to iron out a 1k - 2k work is a lot easier, just that I had this story barking in my mind for a long time, and the pen flowed.

Reworking seems to be the most suitable solution. I will put this down and head into a period of reading and research, gain a different perspective before a remake.

Thank you everyone
 
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