When a Story Idea Doesn’t Quite Work Out


THIS IS MORE within the realms of short story writing, but can apply to novels too. Sometimes I have a great idea for a story, one of those thunderbolts that gets me excited to put fingers to keyboard, you know the ones? – where you think of a beautiful twist and the story is there, like a movie in the mind, from start to finish.

Ocassionally, that story pours out in a frenzied session of laptop abuse, leaving me entirely satisfied with the end result. Quite frequently though, that doesn’t happen. I can’t explain it. I doubt a room full of scientists would be able to elucidate it, beyond registering some neurons firing on a screen and scratching their heads. For whatever reason, that essential skeleton that the story needs to hang from is there; the plot, the twist, but, the end result is Frankesnteinian, with skin hanging loosely, body parts sewn on in the wrong place, and most importantly, the heart is there, but somehow on the wrong side, beating weakly if at all.

As frustrating as that is, in the universe of fiction, there are no words which cannot be replaced or erased. But if the story doesn’t have that organic, richness that you were hoping for? What’s the solution? Editing. If the idea is good enough to get excited about, and doesn’t come to life, just kill it and resurect it, until you like it. Don’t give up on a great idea: do put on the rubber gloves and report to the operating theatre. Let the story breathe, come back to it. Still not happy? Do the same again. Work on another project. Somewhere in the brain that original story is still circulating, waiting to be released. Ultimately, the end result might not be your favourite story ever, or even your best, but you gave it a chance. And the beautiful thing about this writing game, is that whatever you create can ALWAYS be altered, or, used in a different way, it’s always going to be there should you return to it providing your computer, USB sticks, external harddrive, and Cloud haven’t corrupted.

7 thoughts on “When a Story Idea Doesn’t Quite Work Out

  1. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    This is so true. It’s not a good feeling when you get to the middle of a story and you start to hate it. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on jimleeauthor and commented:
    I’ve had this experience. sometimes that “great idea” just refuses to come together that first (or second or third) time. But when it does…right now I’m waiting to see if one such finally sells (at least 10 YEARS after initial idea). Up to the editor now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the magic of writing. it doesn’t go stale and can always be chopped and changed. Good luck with your project.


  3. Great advice. I had the same problem with a recent story I was working on but when I changed it from 3rd to 1st person it seemed to suddenly work. Short story endings tend to be my nemesis though!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A few tweaks can change eveything! I think that’s the toughest part too, the rearranging, fearing losing some all important piece, when often nothing is that big a deal. And for the ocassional neurotic like me, I might save the original and keep it, but do a redraft as a seperate document, so nothing is lost.


  4. That is how I generally feel about this one story I have had in my mind for almost a decade now that I just can’t ever seem to get past the starting stages on. Oh the hooks and plot twists that it had, the story spanning to six books. Oh the humanity! The simple fact is that I am hung on the first chapter… but the rest is there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah sometimes just getting started is a big hurdle. Also I can find my fantastic idea goes on holiday as soon as I start typing. Crystal clear picture in the mind, then I type and it’s gone. Weird.

      Liked by 1 person

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