I can understand your reluctance to let go of a book that has had so many hours put into it already
(especially when you like what's been written so far), but after reading your email, my first
thought was that you may have to - there didn't seem to be anything left for you to
If a writer doesn't know where the story is going, it's difficult to plot it further...
and if that writer has already tried rewriting it without success... then what’s left?
Then I thought some more. (After all, I don't like to admit defeat!) There's always something worth
trying. And, for what it's worth, here's my suggestion.
Try something completely different. (Only YOU will know if you have the time to do it, or if you
feel like doing this at all.)
Set yourself an hour a day to work on the story (even half an hour, if an hour seems too
difficult) and JUST WRITE.
Don’t worry about where the story is going. Don’t worry about what might seem to ‘fit’. If it
feels so foreign that it might as well be someone else’s work... then let’s have some fun
with it and treat it as though that’s exactly what it is!
You know those writing games that are sometimes done in classrooms or in writing workshops, where
someone writes the beginning of a story then passes it on to the next person, and they write a bit
then pass it on, etc etc, until you end up with a hybrid story that belongs to everyone? That's
pretty similar to what we'll do here.
Here's how it works.
- Read through the story so far (or even just the last chapter written).
- Take the story from where it is and write for an hour (or write ‘x’ number of pages, if that
works better for you) with the sole aim of keeping the action going and making the reader continue
to turn pages. Each time you finish writing for the day, you MUST leave it at a point where there
is a question to be answered, or a mini-hook, or a suspenseful moment. It doesn’t matter whether
you know what is going to happen next. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. This is
something that the next writer in the chain will have to worry about! (Of course, that ‘next
writer’ will be YOU, when you start the next day’s session.
- The next day, read through what you have done the day before, AS THOUGH IT HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY
SOMEONE ELSE. Your job is solely to pick up from where the ‘previous writer’ left off, and to do
exactly the same thing again... write a segment of the novel that will keep the reader turning
pages, build the tension, keep the story moving, and finish on a mini-hook...
Can you see where this is going? It takes away the responsibility of HAVING to plot, or HAVING to
finish the book, and so on. All you’re doing is writing a scene, or a series of scenes, or a number
of pages, that will keep the story moving and give the next writer (cough – YOU) a good
starting point for next time.