Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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Abandoning A Story

Posted by Luther D. Powell on April 11, 2012

‘Tis a dark, depressing and gloomy topic: abandoning a story.

Okay, so it’s not that bad, but don’t you feel like a cruel and horrible person whenever it comes time to say, “This story isn’t working, these characters aren’t interesting, they must go”? It’s a feeling comparable to that of saying goodbye to a friend who lives far away, burying your pet hamster, tearing down the LEGO castle. Life goes on, but it still feels lame for the time, you know? I think I’ve reached that point with a story I’ve had in mind for maybe four years. I’ve only actually written about one page of solid material, and I just don’t see it amounting to much.

Is this common for the rest of you writers out there? What do you do when you feel the need to scrap an idea and focus on something new?

One of best pieces of writing advice I’ve received in the past few years is that every writer needs a mental shelf or drawer to hide ideas away in, when they choose not to put them on paper. A story not working out so well? Put it on the shelf, come back to it another day. I’ve done that with a handful of plots, especially since getting published for the first time, but I do feel like this old story idea might only ever be just that: an old story idea, shelved for eternity.

I’m one to cherish character names and personalities even if I never write them into existence, but there’s just something about having to say, “This was a cool idea once, but not anymore,” that kind of bums me out, leaves me restless on what to write next. It was pointed out recently in my Creative Writing Workshop class that in truth, none of us ever really invent characters or ideas out of nothing. We’re constantly being influenced by what’s around us, taking what we like and holding on to it, using it in stories, creating our own plots and scenarios. That said, is it really possible to completely abandon a story you’ve created in your head using influences from everything else around you?

I’d like to think the same spark, flare, spice, what have you, which stirred these ideas in the first place still lingers in my mind, waiting to find its place in another story. I do hate to call quits on an overall plot, but who knows? Maybe something will spur it back to life later on. On the bright side, part of my lack of interest in continuing this particular story has to do with my being so engrossed in perfecting another story lately, which has indeed been going well. Win some, lose some!

In other news, for those of you who have read my short story, Front Row Seats, featured in OtherSheep Magazine, my day was made a bazillion times better by a surprise visit by the real-life ‘Ted Bokelmann,’ aka Teddy Brown. My freshman year at BGSU, Teddy was my RA, and he and I connected well and became close buds. A uniquely Christlike friend, this man has made a huge impact on my life in the three years I’ve known him, and this is totally me giving a shout-out to him. Teddy, I love you, brother! He recently got married and is off looking for a permanent home with his wife, so I don’t get to see him much anymore. It brightened the atmosphere of my whole apartment complex to have him stop by for a few days, even though I almost didn’t recognize his cleanly-shaven face.

I’m also pleased to say that my mom has shown a friend of hers at work the initial sketch for my current commission piece. Most of my commissions these days come from ladies my mom works with, which is fine by me. I love drawing portraits in general, so if I can earn a few bucks from it, I’ll draw whoever however wherever. Anyway, Mom said the lady told her that she cried when she saw the sketch of her niece, to which I responded, “That’s either really good news or really bad news…”

Thanks for reading, cheers and God bless!


In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

4 Responses to “Abandoning A Story”

  1. Mom said

    What about when you finish reading a good book or a series and you feel like you’re losing a good friend?

  2. Getting to the end is a shock, isn’t it? Sometimes when a favorite author comes out with a new book I buy it, then look at it for a week or two, getting up the courage to read it, knowing it will come to an end, knowing that I cannot savor it but must gobble with hardly any chewing the first time and knowing that I will have that pain that’s sheer as a heart attack when it’s over.

    When you’re moving ahead so fast, it’s okay to have LOTS of ideas, jot down cool character references for another time, even plots and scenes for someday. Cannibalizing a story that’s not working is a legit practice. I once came across a story I’d written fifty pages of and had completely forgotten about.

    • Luther D. Powell said

      I appreciate your advice. Funny thing is, I used to be pretty set on writing this crazy-elaborate fantasy series, and I was happy to bail out on it when I realized writing fantasy just wasn’t a strength of mine. :P

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