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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
1(2.4%)
I finish more than 75% of the stories I start work on
16(39.0%)
I finish 50-75% of the stories I start work on
9(22.0%)
I finish 25-50% of the stories I start work on
7(17.1%)
I finish less than 25% of the stories I start work on
6(14.6%)
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments
2(4.9%)


*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.


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Comments

tracy_d74
Feb. 14th, 2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
Well, I just started finishing stories within the past three years. Within the past three years...half of the six stories I started I finished. BUT only one was submitted. Four will be trunked forever (more than likely) and one will be resurrected when I become a better writer (hopefully). The story I'm writing now...well...I'm on the fence about it. In its current state it may be destined for the trunk. I can't seem to make it match what is in my head. It may be I don't have the skills at the moment. So...it may be temporarily trunked after I complete the first draft.

But I know what you mean about established authors with bland books. I think you get on a contract and you HAVE to produce something. Unfortunately, life has ups and downs and that can impact your writing. If it is an author that I KNOW produces great stuff and has an off book, I am forgiving. If it keeps happening...well...obviously I will stop purchasing their stories.
jongibbs
Feb. 14th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
'In its current state it may be destined for the trunk'

I know what you mean. At present I have first drafts of three fantasy novels which may never see the light of day :)

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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