I started working on a particular story many months ago. I made it about 10,000 words in before it slowed to a halt. I continued to work at it a little each day, but it felt like I was forcing myself. Pushing and shoving the word count higher. It was a high concept idea unlike anything I had ever done before. It required world building – which I’ve never done, and third person POV -which I am not a fan. It is dark and doesn’t have much room for my humor. It has the potential to be a great story – but I have learned in the last few weeks – it’s not my story.
I argued with myself over this. I knew deep down that it wasn’t my story to tell, but it felt like giving up. I knew the story from cover to cover. How it would start, how it would end. The eerie details that would give it the chill factor. Hell, I scared myself with some of the scenes that I was rolling out. The problem was when I tried to write it, it died on the page.
There are two things that caused the death of this story. The first is that I didn’t love it. When I realized that I wouldn’t buy it – I knew I shouldn’t tell it. It’s not the sort of story that I read. With the internet, write what you know has grown exponentially, but write what you love – that should still be true. Secondly, I didn’t believe it. The world is coming to an end and all of humankind is depending on one couple. These stories are everywhere, both movies and books, and people eat them up. I can enjoy them, but when I’m done I’m left with the question, “Why?” Although my story was unique and had a great spin on things with twists and turns that leaves the readers guessing who is the good guy and who is the bad, I can’t in good conscious write a story that leaves this big of a question floating out there. I try my best to not leave holes – and why these two people are so darn special – that’s a pretty big hole.
There are many things that I absolutely loved about this story. Characters that I adored and wanted to watch grow, the twists that I was speaking of earlier, a unique take on the devil and the end of the world. Because of this, I will not be hitting delete and adding them to the recycle bin. Instead they are getting a new home titled “The Scrap Pile.” I will leave it in tact like a car in the junkyard to be sold for parts when needed. Who knows, maybe Jared and Caitlin will find happiness in another story that is more my style. They deserve it after all I’ve put them through.
I’ve killed a storyline before, but it was normally because it was not going anywhere. And it normally happened a great deal sooner than this.
What was the most work you put into a story before you realized it needed to go to your “scrap pile”? Did you keep it or delete it? Did you immediately dive into something else?