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Spent so long in the trenches of Unfinished ... At one point, I had about half a million (completed!) words in one series. Sadly, that mass quantity didn't add up to even one full book. So many cool ideas! And characters! Oh my, and what a mess.

I also spent way too long studying at the feet of successful pantsers (Whole Language advocates) who said, "Keep going. When you're done, you'll be able to look back over the whole story and see how to organize it." For them, it worked. For me, not so much. Completion never happened. If I'd kept doing that, I'd be living in a van down by the river, still writing and hoping and never finishing anything.

What changed things: structure.

It was like creating my own 12-step program. I had to surrender my addiction to writing in general and my love of all things new and shiny. I had to admit there was a higher power and its name was story structure. In the process, I discovered that if I attempted to adopt more general, less specific story models -- the ones that encourage writers to create a hybrid of planning and pantsing--my bad habits returned. Usually with a vengeance.

I'm NOT saying pantsing is bad nor am I saying some production and story models are better than others. Self-knowledge makes all the difference. In my case, giving myself any room to pants was like plopping a big ol' bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve in front of an alcoholic. Mayhem resulted. It's also a matter of scale. Some writers may feel a bit lost in the process of writing a book or three. Happens. If you've got TWELVE in the works, I'm thinking we might have the same addiction.

The single most helpful book/story structure model (for me) was John Truby's book, The Anatomy of Story. IMO, nothing else is even in the ball park.

Edited to add: One reason (for me) the generally good advice to "pick one book and finish the darn thing" didn't work was that I wanted/needed/felt like I was on a mission to write this whole thing (whatever that whole thing might be). If I didn't get the characters and scenes and bits and bobs that would, eventually, make up the grand scheme, I'd fail. The whole thing would fall apart. Therein lies the clue to the answer, which is structure. The larger your vision, the more structure is your friend.
 

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My rule: No more than 2 WIPs at once. If one isn't doing it for me, I need to officially scrap it. Otherwise I have to finish it before starting anything else.

Another plot will undoubtedly come along and tease me, as it so often does. The key here is that if that plot decides to linger around until the current WIP is completed, then it was worth it. If it dies a quick death after a few days or weeks, then it wasn't worth writing about in the first place and I wouldn't have stuck to it.
 

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Scarlett_R said:
Another plot will undoubtedly come along and tease me, as it so often does. The key here is that if that plot decides to linger around until the current WIP is completed, then it was worth it. If it dies a quick death after a few days or weeks, then it wasn't worth writing about in the first place and I wouldn't have stuck to it.
Ah, finally someone else with my survival of the fittest philosophy to plot bunnies. ;)
 
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