Friday, January 20, 2012

Abandonment issues

Abandoning a book isn't an easy decision.

Well, if you've only written 1,000 words it's kind of easy. 10,000 is tougher. But, 63,910?

See, that EXACT word count is where I am now. The project, a YA religious horror novel that was going good for about 4 months, suddenly turned into A Nightmare on Book Street. It's seriously messing with my productivity as I lose day after day trying to figure a (good) way to untangle the numerous plot threads I've lost control of. Things seemed so perfect in month 1 when this baby was 50 smoking pages of intense they-won't-be-able-to-put-this-down goodness. 200 pages later, with no end in sight, not so much.

What to do?

Maybe 'abandon' is too strong a term. Maybe me and the book need a break. If I love it, let it go and all that. I'm on the fence, but if I decide to put this one away after all this work I can live with it. Why? Because I typically finish my work. I've written over a half-dozen novels. I just finished a draft of YA Urban Fantasy novel (hopefully more on that soon) in October, and soon I'll have to devote all of my attention to performing edits on WHISPERTOWN, so there's plenty for me to do.

You, however, probably want to know if and when YOU should abandon a book. That's an easy assessment once you answer a simple question. What do YOU typically do?

Sometimes an idea doesn't pan out. If that's a rare occurence for you, there's no harm in letting a so-so story go to work on something more promising that you can finish. If ALL of your stories don't pan out, so you never finish anything, you may need to consider that you have Abandonment Issues. The issue being that you abandon all of your work when it gets hard. That is something we can not abide.

If you normally finish the writing you start, letting a rough idea or two go isn't the end of the world.Who knows, you might come back to it later. It's happened to me before.

If you tend to start more than you finish, DO NOT ABANDON ANYTHING ELSE! You have to get over this hurdle sometime. Might as well be now.

It always gets hard. Doubt seeps in. Neither are reasons to abandon your book. In fact, now that I've typed that, maybe I'll reconsider letting go of that project I've come so far on.

You should reconsider, too.

Lamar "L. R." Giles writes for adults and teens. Penning everything from epic fantasy to noir thrillers, he's never met a genre he didn't like. His debut YA mystery WHISPERTOWN is about a teen in witness protection who investigates his best friend's murder and stumbles on a dark conspiracy that leads back to his own father. It will be published in Summer, 2013 by HarperCollins. He resides in Virginia with his wife and is represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Find out more on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


  1. I've a story I set aside years ago just a couple of chapetrs in. The funny thing is that it won't let me go. The characters keep whispering in my head. Maybe I'm just bonkers or maybe I should give in to their voices :-)

    1. Kate, I don't think you're bonkers. Or maybe I'm bonkers too and we're just enabling each other. ;)

  2. Love this post! 63,910 is a lot of words... but when they're not working together just right, it can be a huge relief to put them aside for a while and start the story again with a clear mind and a blank page.

    1. Thanks, Caroline. Just as an update, I've decided NOT to abandon that particular project. It took the whole weekend of beating my head on the desk in between tweaking some troublesome chapters, but I now see a way through the woods. :)

  3. Very good point about the Abandonment Issues thing. Well said!

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