When to abandon a story

In my last post I talked about working on the first-draft manuscripts of ten stories – how some were close to ready, others needed a lot of work and one had been “abandoned entirely”; the ideas were worth revisiting but the manuscript itself wasn’t . I’m keen to write a story for the Southern Horror Writer’s Club, since I’m, technically, from the south, so I really want this story set in New Zealand’s South Island to work. I tried a rewrite from scratch last week – similar ideas, but kept two of the characters together so their conversation can do some of the explaining (“telling”) about the situation. It was much more pacey, action oriented and flat out – the new draft opened like this “Connor pushed the stolen Range Rover up over 160, barely slowing for the corners” (that’s 160 kph, which is about 100 mph, I think). (The original draft had been much more introspective and gazey – “Jeff stepped back off the jetty, cradling his twisted wrist” and so on). The rewrite didn’t work – too much pace, not enough character … I just couldn’t get a feel for it. But I still want to submit to the club, the deadline is approaching. So I sat down with the characters (I like Jeff and Connor and Sandra, naive as they are) and put them in a new scenario. I’ve been writing that story for a couple of days and I’m about 1500 words into it and this one doesn’t work. So the three manuscripts are going in a drawer for probably six months and then I might see what may be salvageable from them – who knows, that stolen Range Rover might make a reappearance sometime.

Meanwhile, still wanting to make that deadline, I’m starting a new story – “Doubtful Sound”, with different characters and a way different scenario. We’ll see how that goes.

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