I have many. I think of them often and vow I’ll get back to them. Chances are I won’t because I get fresh ideas that I do start and finish.
I have so many rough drafts, it’s almost ridiculous: first drafts, fifth drafts. One manuscript has been taken apart so many times, chunks are missing. The reason these books are still drafts is because I didn’t plan. I plunged head first into NANOWRMO or some other exciting “Write Fast” activity and I neglected to give sufficient thought to my characters, their GMC or my beloved 3-Act structure.
Yes, I know there are successful seat of the pants writers out there. I’m not one of them, unless you count eleven rough drafts a success. I definitely know how to finish a book–it’s the grunt work of a SOTP manuscript that I don’t particularly enjoy–the rewriting of a book that’s got too many holes.
And that’s where planning comes in. The more you plan, the easier the rewrite.
The late Stephen Cannell planned extensively. He stated that sometimes he wrote 60 page treatments of his novels, then he’d never look at those pages again. He knew his characters and story so well, he didn’t have to refer to his treatment.
I especially like his outlook on unfinished manuscripts.
Cannell said, “You get nothing from an unfinished project, and you learn nothing.” At some point he made a deal with himself that he would never abandon another project; he’d write to the end. That’s when he started on his road to success.
So what are we going to do about our backlog of poems, stories and novels? Any ideas?