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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have this standalone novella that I've been trying to finish for a long time.  The characters and plot are all decent, IMO.  And I actually have quite a bit of the story written so it would be nice not to just throw away all that work.

But from the get-go, this story has just been (I don't know how else to describe it) heartless for me.  I have not really gotten into it the way I have my other stories.  I like the plot line so I keep telling myself that if I could just tough it out a little longer I will eventually get in the zone.

Hasn't happened.  And I'm not sure it will.  It just feels like I'm robot author when writing it.  No connection at all.  Just creating something I've been programed to do. 

Anyone been in this type of situation before?  What do you think?  Tough out a first draft and go back for some major editing?  Trash it?
 

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Generally, dump it in the 'maybe one day' folder, and leave it for a few months. Sometimes I'll suddenly know what to do with it despite not consciously thinking about it for months, other times I'll open it up after months or years and realise it's missing X. Occasionally I'll open it and realise it's great, I was just burnt out. :)
 

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I had this same problem with the WIP that I just finished when I first started writing it about a year ago. I knew the characters were good, but something about the story just didn't work. Here's what I did. I wrote down all the characters names that I'd used so far, along with important character points. I renamed the file to previous version. I opened a brand new document and saved it with the name of the WIP and started a completely new story. I started with the idea of the first scene from the old one and essentially reversed everything about it. Now, 60k brand new words later, it's my favorite story I've ever written. :) It may not work for you entirely, but maybe it will get some ideas flowing at least.

Something else you could try: When I'm really writer's blocked, I tend to write short stories in the same world just to keep my mind working on the characters. Maybe you'll discover something new that way that will pull your whole story in a direction.
 

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I'm sure I'm stating the obvious, but without your heart in it, people won't feel anything... BUT... I'd ask myself "Why?"  Why don't you feel it?  What's missing?  Is it a character?  A scene?  The timeframe?  The setting?  I once wrote a 10,000 word intro to a story and just felt blah about it.  I realized I was writing it for the wrong genre... I tweaked it, added more to it, made it into something I'd want to read... and I loved it. 

IF by some chance it's just not the right story right now and you really really really can't get into it... file it away for a rainy day.  8)

My favorite horror novel, Pet Sematary, almost didn't get published because Stephen King wasn't sure of it.  He had it all done but hid it.  He gave it to his publisher to satisfy a contract... so you never know, right??
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Upon rereading what I already have down, I think the characters I have need more personality.  None of them grab me because none of them seem real in my mind.

Ugh.  I hate this.  I wouldn't be so bent out of shape if I hadn't already spent so much time on the story already.  Alas, the little heartbreaks that go with writing.
 

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I heard Robert Olen Butler speak about his process of dreamstorming - basically he sits and wake dreams vivid scenes, writes a scene sentence on a 3x5 card, goes on to the next scene, and so on until he gets to the end. I tried this method and found it helped get my scenes sharper, and my conflict more intense. Try it. His book is From Where You Dream. But the method is simple enough without the book. You'll find the heart of your story.
 

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Sometimes, just to come at it from another angle, 'heartless' can be good. Depending on what's going on in the book, having a certain 'detached' feeling in the narrative (or the character) can make things real interesting. I think of a title like 'Smilla's Sense of Snow' - the coldness itself begins to feel passionate.
I suppose what I'm saying is, don't always assume you got it wrong - maybe you got it right.
Perhaps doing what some of the other posters have said, and putting it aside for a while and then looking at it again, you'll find the key to it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ian Fraser said:
Sometimes, just to come at it from another angle, 'heartless' can be good. Depending on what's going on in the book, having a certain 'detached' feeling in the narrative (or the character) can make things real interesting. I think of a title like 'Smilla's Sense of Snow' - the coldness itself begins to feel passionate.
I suppose what I'm saying is, don't always assume you got it wrong - maybe you got it right.
Perhaps doing what some of the other posters have said, and putting it aside for a while and then looking at it again, you'll find the key to it?
I get what you're saying. When I'm writing my sci-fi, I would agree with you. However, this is a romance lol. So.... heart could be in order ;)
 

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I would put it away for a little while as maybe the time isn't right for you to tell this story. 

Also, maybe you are making the romance prominent when it should be more of a sub text to a different main theme.  I know that I could never write romance.  I would find it so difficult.  But I could make it secondary to a main plot. I always say that I don't mind characters falling in love, I just want them to while someone is trying to kill them. LOL Maybe your heart is not in romance right now.  :)
 

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Kathleen Valentine said:
It happens sometimes -- I'm just in a place where a certain storyline doesn't grab me. And if it doesn't grab me it sure won't grab my reader. Usually I put it aside until my perspective changes --- or I forget about it.
This! This! This! Who knows, you may have an epiphany on how to change the plot or some other white lightning moment.

The other side is, you could be using up time on a story you're not that keen on, instead of working on something that you really love!
 

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That happened with one of my short stories. It was a good idea, and I tried to start it, but I wasn't motivated to do much more with it. It was a non-genre story. When I made it into sci-fi, I found my motivation. Maybe you do need to tinker with the characters, or the setting, or something else, in order to find the "heart."

And as for wasting time, well, I've gone through at least a few full drafts of a couple of my novels, and multiple drafts of some short stories. Don't sweat lost time; somehow or another it pays off. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
RobertLCollins said:
And as for wasting time, well, I've gone through at least a few full drafts of a couple of my novels, and multiple drafts of some short stories. Don't sweat lost time; somehow or another it pays off. :)
Good point. Everything you write adds to your collective skill as a writer, I suppose.
 
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