Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click here to see a full list of participating blogs.
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Back in February, I started writing a story for Tomorrow News Network called “A Pound of Flesh.” In it, a telepath would attempt to communicate with a species of intelligent bacteria native to the planet Mars. But much like a bacterial infection, the story kept growing. It got complicated. It was about telepaths, intelligent bacteria, prisons, war, religious cults, and the food industry. It had some political commentary as well. The story became so complicated that I had to stop.
I’m more of an intuitive writer. I like to feel my way through a story rather than plan the whole thing out in advance, but in this case, with a story giving me this much trouble, I had to do things differently. I wrote an outline and discovered that the story had at least nine different plot threads. Nine! All of them essential to the story I wanted to tell. It would be difficult to deal with nine plot threads in a novel. In a short story, it’s almost impossible.
So after a few days of soul searching and some time away from my writing, I made the decision to abandon the story. I’ve already done eleven short stories for this series, so I took some comfort in knowing that I got so far without encountering a problem like this.
The bad news is that I’m now two months behind schedule, and most of the work I did for “A Pound of Flesh” is unusable. The good news is that the new story, entitled “Mother Mars,” is turning out really well. I’m excited about writing it, and I’m even more excited for you to read it when it comes out sometime in the next two weeks. It has only two main plot threads: one about the human colonization of Mars a few centuries from now and another about the ancient Martians living several millennia in the past.
But abandoning a story was a hard decision. I liked “A Pound of Flesh.” The scenes with the intelligent bacteria were extremely creepy and fun to write. But as a writer, I have to be prepared to give up on a concept that isn’t working.
So how about you? Have you ever had to give up on a writing project (or other kind of project) even though you really liked it?