Do You Have Unfinished Manuscripts?

unfinishedHow many of us have unfinished works in our computers? I bet a lot. Sometimes we get an amazing idea for a story, we furiously write it down, come up with characters, develop and plot and after feverishly working on it for days and weeks at a time…. it fizzles. Why does this happen? I can blame writer’s block, lack of time, computer problems, but that’s usually not it. You can always come up with some excuse, but for me, the real reason is that I probably got bored. And if “I” get bored with my own story, you can imagine how readers might feel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean I’m not capable of finishing a book… just maybe not this one.

The question begs, what do you do with these stories? Especially those that are halfway, to three-quarters of the way, written? Can they be saved? Do you even want to save them? Should you finish them as an exercise and put them in a special “where the sun don’t shine” file, or do you occasionally take them out, dust them off and try to “fix” them? I have four novels in various stages of production. Some are in genres I never usually write in and I use these books to “play.” When I need a break from a serious WIP, but still want to write, I go to these “where the sun don’t shine” novels and work on them. Some of them are actually decent, some of them are terrible and some of them I will never show anyone because of subject matter (you fill in the blanks 😉 ) But the fact is, they are there, I know they’re there and I don’t necessarily want to let them go.

I wondered if I were the only author that has unfinished works in their arsenal. This week I asked authors Charity Parkerson and C.K. Raggio for their input on this subject. They had some great, thought provoking responses.

Question #1) Do you have any unfinished works? Or do you have stories you start but don’t finish and what do you do with them?

C.K. Raggio: I have quite a few short stories in numerous notebooks near my desk. When I get frustrated or stuck on whatever novel I’m writing (and hard liquor and yanking out my hair doesn’t cut it) I take out a short and work on that instead. It helps me to clear my mind and refocus. It also gives me a feeling of accomplishment once I get to the end of a draft and feel like I’ve improved on it.

Charity Parkerson: I have one book in particular that has sat on my computer for over a year now that I’m beginning to think will never be complete. While writing A SPLASH OF HOPE I always intended for it to have a sequel, but so far, it’s not happening. Sometimes if I have several things that are around 1000 words, I’ll find a way to piece them together to start a new story and it will spark an idea.

Question #2) Do you think it’s okay for writers to have stories that never get finished?

C.K. Raggio: Definitely. I think sometimes a story starts in our head but isn’t ready to be completed. Sometimes we need to grow in our own lives before we are finally able to go back and finish the story’s journey. I believe every tale we tell in some way is connected to our experiences, fears, goals and ultimate dreams. Life will sometimes throw a curve ball and a course we thought we were following changes direction, so even if a story is never finished it’s not a bad thing, it just means we may have drastically changed before we had a chance to polish it to perfection.

Charity Parkerson: I think every writer does have stories that never see the light of day. If in the end it doesn’t work for them then most likely it’s not going to work for readers. Writing is never a waste of time, but not everything is right for publication.

Wise words, ladies. I agree with everything you’re saying and love the idea that maybe sometimes we need to “grow into our lives” before we can finish them. And I love the concept that even if we don’t finish, it’s not a waste of time because it might “spark other ideas.” Really great advice.

For more information about the authors above, please feel free to contact them here:

Charity Parkerson is an award-winning author of several books including 15 Amazon bestsellers. She can always be reached on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson You can also check out one of her novels, THE SEXY & THE UNDEAD at http://www.amazon.com/The-Sexy-Undead-Witches-ebook/dp/B00CLYIMD0/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1373661362&sr=1-6&keywords=charity+parkerson

C.K. Raggio is a thriller/horror writer with a taste for the dark side. Her debut novel HERON PARK is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Wx537w You can visit C.K. at her website http://www.ckraggio.com/

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12 thoughts on “Do You Have Unfinished Manuscripts?

  1. It’s my personal opinion that projects (stories) tend to stall and go unfinished due to insufficient preplanning of the original idea. What I mean is that the original idea hasn’t been developed enough to carry itself from start to finish, which leads to on the fly development, writer frustration and/or loss of interest, and eventual abandonment. It’s no reflection on the individual writer; we all have our own ways of doing things. I recently revamped my writing process to include a system of benchmarks designed to tell me how I’m doing and where I’m at and it’s been paying dividends almost from the get go. Of course, some ideas never get too far for one reason or another but the majority are definitely doable.

    Great post and I look forward to more of this type. 🙂

    • While I don’t see it as poor planning, I do get what you mean. If I had made an outline of the book, start, middle, end, I’d know where I was going and maybe I’d have finished it. Sometimes I just write without a plan – I have a vague notion of the start, the middle and ending, but not a clear plan – your system of benchmarks is a perfect way to make sure you stay on track.

  2. I have a couple of what I call ‘trunk novels.’ As in stuffed in a trunk and locked away, lest anyone stumble across them and cast scorn in my direction. In my case, the trunk novels turned out to be early (possibly premature?) versions of books I did finish, so I don’t believe the effort was wasted. I pull them out and dust them off and read them, sometimes, when I need to be humbled.

  3. In the 2nd yr of NaNoWriMo, I was invited to participate and did. I failed miserably but I had my reasons — don’t do a cookbook and also my father passed away the month before. Not the best excuses, but… Anyway, I have done it every year since and finished. Sometimes I immediately go back and drop anywhere from 15k to 35k of crap that was written with the intent of fixing in the future. Some of the books actually have seen light of day in publication including the one I am now finalizing “An Amish Voice.” I enjoy NaNoWriMo because it allows me to write 50k words in 30 days and I can write about almost anything and in any genre. I’ve written fantasy, sci-fi, detective, paranormal, romance, historical and adventure. I can flex my writing muscles during that time and yes, they become files that remain hidden except for the first chapter or two which I humbly offer a free read on my website to those who have the gumption to peruse. I don’t even want to attempt to count all the short stories lingering in files. I have a directory called “writing” which has several sub-dirs that include books, shorts, ideas, old-stuff, articles, classes, misc, unsure and each of those sub-dirs have several directories too. That ‘writing’ directory gets backed up on a regular basis to a huge terabyte drive. I even created my own personal “cloud” directory on one of my obscure webpages, hidden behind a password secured directory, where I keep a backup, too. Now that I think about it, I really should stop doing NaNoWriMo and just try to get all the books I’ve written, published. What a novel concept!!

  4. I don’t have much myself but I tend to write a lot of things in my head before I even sit down at the computer. I work through ideas enough in my mind that I can usually tell if it’s something that I can expand on or work through before I spend much time at the keyboard. I do have a few snippets and scenes lying around that might grow into something more some day 🙂

  5. I have two novels I completed, edited, yet, I haven’t considered publishing them. I was a new writer when I wrote them, and they’ll need work to make worthy of publishing. Someday, I might read them away from the computer, and write them again from scratch. That is if I run out of the other ideas that are running around in my head.

    I agree with what you, Charity, C. K., writing, whatever it is, is not a waste of time. Thanks for posting this thought provoking blog.

  6. It’s a good practice to save and maintain all of one’s writing, because sometimes inspiration strikes at later times, and it would be unfortunate to not have your material handy to pick right up from where you’ve started.

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