Do you love this story?
Is the story structure solid?
Does it have a unique hook?
Does it pack an emotional punch?
Despite parts that make you want to pull your hair out,
are there really good parts too?
Fortunately I was able to answer yes to these questions. While not every story can be saved, I realized this wasn't a question of whether or not my story was worth saving, but whether or not I was willing to put in the hard word to rescue it.
What to do? In WRITING MAGIC, Gail Carson Levine tells how she writes several versions of some scenes, then chooses the one that works best. And in this great post by Susan Sipal we're reminded to follow J.K. Rowling's example and "...rewrite until we get it right."
And there are still two life preservers I haven't thrown yet:
- Beta readers. We're too close to our own work, and it becomes impossible to separate the "what were you thinking?" moments from the "wow, this is good" moments. Plotting & pacing issues, inconsistencies, and unnatural dialog might become white noise to the writer, but beta readers will point this out. A life saver indeed.
- Patience. This is the tough part. I want my story to be perfect right now. Levine reminds us that no book is perfect, even those currently sitting on shelves (although some are darn close). And there's no rule that says the 5th, 7th, or 18th draft must be the draft. If we're patient, the true story, the one that was meant to be told, will come to fruition.
Is your story worth saving, or should you allow it to sink quietly to the bottom of the sea? In my opinion, that's a personal choice each writer must make. If you've found a resource that helps with this decision, please share it in the comments.