Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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Do you try to finish every piece of fiction you write?

Every performer dreads these words: “Boo! Rubbish! Get off! My cat sings better than you, and he’s been dead five years!

In my days as lead singer and keyboard player with the (deservedly) unsuccessful rock band, Gentleman Jones*, I heard those words often. Luckily, my old gran couldn’t attend every gig, especially after she got banned from the Woolwich Tramshed for injuring two bouncers (she took exception when they told her to at least wait for us to start playing before she hurled ice cubes and abuse at the stage). After the court served gran her restraining order, I remember telling her, “You think those songs were bad. You should hear the ones we don’t play.

Whether it’s songs or stories, I believe one of the lesser-known skills a writer needs to acquire, is the ability to tell when it’s all going horribly wrong. Many writers find it hard to accept that much of what they create is simply not good enough. In the case of fiction, I’m not talking about prose or even literary style. I mean character development, sub-plotting, even the overall story idea.

How many times have you read bland books in your preferred genre? The blurbs looked great, they were your kind of stories and you were excited to read them. They weren’t badly written or anything, but still they left you with that ‘meh’ feeling.

Sure, someone thought they would sell, and they may even have done so (if the writers were already established and/or had a big marketing organization behind them). I’m sure those books didn’t start out that way, but somewhere between the idea and the finished product, things went off track.

If you read a bland book, are you more likely to read something else by that writer? Probably not.

I know some people feel they should try to finish and publish everything they write, if for no other reason than to get their name out there, but I disagree. To me, recognizing when (and why) it’s time to give up on a story is at least as important as recognizing when (and why) it works. It’s perhaps the main reason I use outlines, because if the big picture isn’t going to turn out okay, I’d rather find out before I spend months working on the first draft.

How about you?

Do you try to finish every piece of fiction you write?

Poll #1818957 Do you try to finish every piece of fiction you write?

Do you try to finish every piece of fiction you write?

I finish every story I start work on
I finish more than 75% of the stories I start work on
I finish 50-75% of the stories I start work on
I finish 25-50% of the stories I start work on
I finish less than 25% of the stories I start work on
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments

*In deference to the old adage 'Give the public what they want.' Gentleman Jones disbanded in 2004. The band's website has gone, but if you'd like to hear their theme tune, you can find it here.
Tags: fiction, writing

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