I need help. Should I give up on my story?

I have a story idea that I love, but I’ve realized a few things that upset me deeply.

  1. In order to maybe one day publish a book, I need to be able to even finish a story. Problem is, I can’t plot a book to save my life. I come up with a beginning, a scene that happens at the end, and then I can only think of random ideas and I can’t tell if they belong in the story or not.

  2. Every attempt at an outline becomes an unrelated series of events that even I as the author can’t really follow. I could switch my plot points around in any order (except for an obvious beginning and end) and it wouldn’t look any different. I know because I literally did this (and then successfully resisted the urge to cry out of frustration).

  3. I have been stuck at 6 chapters and 15,000 words for three months. At this point I’m thinking I should just wait for the awards I applied for to wrap up and then leave the story unfinished. I’m just upset because I have been trying to finish the damn story since January and have written a clean 20,000 words that were all useless and meandering because I just don’t understand how to plot. Nothing I have watched or read has helped me understand how plotting is even supposed to work.

My question: What should I do? Should I give up? Start over? I have tried the pantser method and ended up wasting my time. But I don’t understand how plotters do it no matter how hard I try. I kind of just want to give up and abandon this story, which would make me sad, but I’ve been trying to come up with a plot for a year now and nothing is working.

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I don’t think you should abandon your book right away. You say you love the story and you’ve already written 15,000 words, so it would be a shame to leave it at that. If your previous methods don’t work for you, there are three things you could try before trying to plot or write any further:

  1. Whether you’re a pantser or not, passion is key to motivation and inspiration. Do you feel passionate about your story, and what elements of it are you most enthusiastic about? Is it the characters, the world, the final conclusion of the story? If you sit down to write without feeling that passion every time you think about your story, it will never work out. That being said, remind yourself of your enthusiasm whenever you force your fingers to type the words.

  2. You say you only have a beginning and an idea for the ending. Obviously, if you’re not a pantser, that isn’t enough to get you started. Before you type even one more word, grab a blank sheet and start writing down some aspects of the story: What is the main theme? Who are the main characters? What is the story about? What are the stakes? Those are the same questions you have to ask yourself before writing a blurb, so why don’t you try writing one first? It may help you get some facts in order. Only when you have an answer to those questions, you can proceed to write a story.

  3. When you’ve done all of that and you still get no inspiration for the story’s middle part (which is the hardest part for many writers), just write some random scenes you want to integrate into the plot. Nobody says you should start writing at the beginning of the story; just write what comes into your head. It doesn’t matter whether you’ll keep the scenes in the end or not; interacting with the story world and the characters in it may help you form a better picture of how everything should fit together. After all, first drafts are seldom perfect, and you’ll have plenty of time to rearrange the scenes and perfect the language/plot in the editing phase.

I hope this was helpful. I wish you all the good luck with your story! And remember, there are many writers who spend years to finish their greatest work. :blush:

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Never give up. Never give in.

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Write all your ideas down fuck a plot just write until you reach the end. Wait a month then read what you wrote. Find what your point is pick from those points and then try to plot. Done.

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No! Don’t give up! Would you like some resources? These guys really really helped me out when I got stuck.

Summary

Check out all of Hello Future Me’s videos, especially his “On Writing Series.” He does an excellent job of giving you plot tips, and his videos helped me improve immensely. He has a book called On Writing and World Building that I would highly recommend. I have it open beside me all the time when I’m writing. Here is his channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFQMO-YL87u-6Rt8hIVsRjA

K.M Weiland has a book called “Creating Character Arcs” that is immensely helpful in progressing plots centered around characters. It’s a workbook that has tons of questions to plug your character into, and everytime I get stuck I’ll work through some of them and it helps me out like, 99 percent of the time.

Check out “The Scriptwriter’s Bible” for some excellent plot development tips. It has a great section on how to write effective dialogue and has a really really good analysis on how to write in the Three Act Structure efficiently (25% build-up, 50% middle, 25% ending/climax/resolution)

Afraid of falling into tropes, or confused about which ones you’re currently writing? Check out Trope Talks by Overly Sarcastic Productions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSSL_0ddi3s&list=PLDb22nlVXGgcljcdyDk80bBDXGyeZjZ5e

And if you need an awesome resource for organizing your plot and figuring out how to progress, check out Campfire.com. I use it to make DnD campaigns and to plot my stories.

It looks like you have some really good ideas. I think you’re stuck because you have so many of them, and you don’t know where to go next. I promise if you take a break to outline and reset, you’ll surprise yourself with how talented you are, and your story will just take off. I think the resources I gave you will help you get unstuck, because they definitely help me.

I’m always down to beta read if you need some positive encouragement. Send me a message if you want me to read your work and tell you what you’re doing really well. I also have a review shop open if you’d like me to write you one of those; I do an in depth analysis that’s geared towards helping writers understand what they’re doing and help them progress their plots. I don’t critique because well, there’s too much negativity on this site already, and I only have a minor in English so I don’t feel qualified to do that sort of thing.

I’m a plotter, I spend forever planning. I really respect pansters because that just doesn’t work for me. If you want me to plan with you, I’d love to, because outlining is my favorite thing in the world. Writing is the painful part for me, lmao. I have a discord where I’ve been connecting with writers and we’ve been helping each other out with stuff like this, you are welcome to join us.

Please don’t give up, I’m sure your project has A LOT of potential. I hope these resources help you continue to pursue it.

-Rowan

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First of all, never give up a story if you want to write it. You will figure out a way to make it work, you just have to take a deep breath, maybe step back for a little bit to give your brain a break, and then keep going.

Not everybody is a pantster or a plotter. There is a thing called plantsing which is in between. You start out with your characters, whatever details of your world you feel are necessary, and the most major plot points, then you let the rest naturally tie itself together. It gives you the best of both worlds, with a direction to work towards without all the work and constricting feel plotting can include.

That being said of you think you need to plot but aren’t sure how, there are about a million exercises and tools I can give you if you want, I’m an obsessive plotter and have been collecting strategies to do it for like 7 years.

It sounds like you just don’t know what story you’re trying to tell. Which is fine, it can be really hard to figure out, and middle is the hardest part for tons of writers so you’re not alone. My advice would be to take that mental break if you feel you need it, then when you feel refreshed and can get back to the reasons why you love this story, maybe find someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. It’s usually really helpful having somebody you can talk spoiler-full plot ideas with and who can help you flesh them out and figure out what’s going on. Feel free to message me for that if you want, I love doing it. Like seriously looove it, I’d be more than happy to help

Then from there maybe you can decide if you want to try some plotting strategies and see if you can learn more about how to do it or try plantsing or whatever.

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When it comes to giving up an idea, it varies upon the reasons. If you really like this story and have a passion for it, don’t give up on it. Perhaps shelve it for a later time, but don’t throw it away. If you lost the passion for the story and you’re not in love with it, then don’t waste your time on it. Move onto another project.

Plotting isn’t for everyone, and neither is pantsing. You have to find something that works for you. I’m a plantser: I plan, but in a very vague way. If you want to plan a story, try planning it chronologically. Some people can use brainstorming and bounce each idea around before they put them in order, but I personally can’t do that. I have to plan in a chronological way. So, if bouncing around isn’t working for you, start at the beginning and work your way toward the end. The best way to do this is to first start with a simple plot idea.

To give an example, I’ll use my current project. The idea I came up with was: a young soldier looking to avenge his family from a magical queen who created an intergalactic war.

To expand on this, I have to start at the beginning. How does the story begin with what main characters? What is their goal? My story starts in the middle of an ambush where my characters are helping people out of a burning building. It then cuts to my MC talking to the Twelve Presidents (pretty much the people in charge of the entire world) and wanting to hunt down these magical creatures to put a stop to everything. His main goal is to get revenge since the queen murdered his family and his entire village.

Then you move onto what important details comes after this. What happens after the inciting incident? How do they get closer to their goals and what blocks their way? For my MC, he has to actually look for these sorcerers since no one knows where they live. In this case, he and his crew fly around from place to place, looking for them. They never find them, but along the way, they do meet multiple people who will help them later in the story, one of whom gives them powers to help defeat these magical creatures.

And you continue on from there, asking yourself question after question until finally, you reach the end of the story.

Thing is, you don’t need to think too hard on the planning because you can change things as you write. You just need to get something down to help you start writing. I actually had to change a lot on my manuscript. Once I started writing it, my computer restarted itself to a point where I lost my whole outline. I don’t have an outline now (took me months to create one, and I wasn’t even finished), but I’m going off memory and making it up as I go along. I’ve changed a lot based on what I remember from the outline, though.

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i’ll be the devil’s advocate here and say that if this story drains you as much as your tone suggests, you should take a break. from what i’ve gathered, you have trouble with the story’s structure/plot. i believe you have clogged up your creative tubes right now, because plotting is something everyone can do with the correct education. seriously, just take a break. do other things. explore ideas. find inspiration anew. once you do those things, i assure you you will learn how to plot much more easily. right now you simply sound exasperated. i get it. we’ve all been there. don’t give up, just take some time off!

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As Neil Gaiman is fond of saying, “Finish what you started”.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be finished.

You can perfect it afterwards. :slight_smile:

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