You’re happily writing your novel, and then suddenly it all turns to dreck. You hate what you’ve written, and can’t see any way to rescue your book. Moreover, you don’t want to rescue it. You want to delete it from your computer, and never have to think about it again.
STOP! Don’t delete anything. Not yet.
Your novel’s dead — or is it?
The “I hate my novel” disaster happens more often than you’d believe. Although it’s a horrible feeling, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve lost your inspiration, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t return. It may do. You may get a flash of insight, and complete the rest of the novel easily.
Where are you in the novel? Most writers hit a wall about three or four chapters in. Grit your teeth, and write. Write anything. Your inspiration will return.
If you’re past the mid-point, the same thing applies. You can get your inspiration back. White-knuckle it. Write. Before you know it, you’ll be back on track.
In short — complete the novel, no matter how gruesome you think it is. You may well be wrong.
You’ve completed your novel, and it’s not worth publishing
You know this because:
- You hate the characters;
- Your story doesn’t make sense (beta readers got confused with it);
- You don’t have a story — you just have a bunch of characters;
- You can’t tell your novel’s story in a paragraph or less;
- You have too much story: a beta reader suggested that you’re writing three different novels, in three different genres…
Turn your failed novel into a short story, or several short stories
Leave your novel for a couple of weeks. Then reread it. Can you find a couple of short stories in your novel? If you can, you’re golden. You usually won’t find a section of your novel which works as a story as-is. You’ll need to do some additional writing, and rewriting.
If you can’t find anything which would work as a short story, get some help with it. You may be too close to the project to be able to look at it objectively. Ask someone you trust to read it — can he find a story?
Here’s our basic short story template for reference.
What did you learn?
A “failed” novel can teach you a lot. Here’s the big thing you’ll learn: you can write at novel length. That’s good to know. You’ll also know how to avoid the mistakes you made.
Perhaps you didn’t pay enough attention to genre. Choosing the right genre is vital, as we discussed here.
Or perhaps you got all tangled up in your plot. It got too complicated. You introduced too many characters…
Whatever happened, you’ve learned from this experience. Every writer has disasters. Over time, you’ll look back on your disasters fondly — you’ll realize that each and every one contributed to your success.
Keep writing. 🙂
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