Friday, October 15, 2010

How Do You Know When A Story Just Won't Work?

I've seen this pop up on blogs occassionally, so I know there's some advice out there somewhere.  I have a story...the robot story, you may remember from my last blog...that seems to get worse with every rewrite.  Most of my stuff gets better with revision, but this one just can't find a voice.  I'm thinking I need to retire it.  My critique group suggested as much at my last face-to-face.

So how do you know when to give a story a peaceful burial?  It's hard for this one, because I'm emotionally vested.  It was my first story, and the one my group loved at first.  I don't know why it's lost its way.  Unfortunately, I've sent it in to be critiqued at the Missouri conference, so I'll have to resurrect it one more time post-mortem.  I wish I had sent another one, but in a moment of weakness, I thought it was worth the CPR.

There is one more life-saving maneuver to try.  I think I'll rewrite it in first person, andsee what comes out.  Maybe Alberta (or Juliet as she was called previously...I got criticized for changing the name, too!), wants to tell the story herself.  I hope she can help, because I've got the funeral home on speed dial.


  1. I'm fairly new to your blog, so I'm not familiar with the saga of Alberta aka Juliet. Good luck in MO at the conference, maybe you'll figure out just the right thing to fix it.

    Sometimes you have to shelf a story for a while and then come back to it. Sometimes it may be a long time and you may change it completely....that draft that you shelved might be the seed of an idea for the final version.

    Best wishes. :)

  2. Okay, how was the conference? Did you get useful advice?

    If not, here's my two cents: go back to your early drafts, the ones your crit group liked. Think about the feedback you've received over all the drafts of this thing, the big-picture stuff: plot lines, ramping it up, etc. and forget everything you've done to it since then and apply all of that feedback to the early drafts. See if that helps.

    Good luck with it!