Keep a writing journal. This was the suggestion I posted on Goodreads, because I got the impression that it was a new writer posting the question and wanted to share this brilliant idea that I picked up from Pinterest earlier this year. The idea was to keep a journal, but instead of a traditional one, fictionalize an indecent that’s in your mind, and create a flash fiction or short story around it. I created a file on my computer for my writing journal with folders for each genre, because the idea really took off with me. I absolutely love it, because writers have so many flashes of inspiration, but not all of them are good enough for a story on their own, and this gives them an outlet. I save my short pieces by genre with a title and date, so I can go back to them if I get more ideas to develop them in the future which, incidentally has already happened, as I used a journal story from February for the prologue for The Tenth Dimension. Just because it doesn’t stand on it’s own doesn’t mean that you won’t find a purpose for it later, either to develop it more or to insert it as a scene in a bigger work.
Rewrite it as a novella, novelette, or a long story. This was another popular suggestion on that thread, with good reason. Quarantine and Resonance are fiction projects that are close to my heart, but I just couldn’t squeeze 50,000 words out of them. In time, I came to realize that not all stories are meant to go no. Some are compact and fit well in a shorter space all their own, and there’s a pretty good market especially on Kindle for these shorter works. Case in point: Hugh Howey’s Wool was a huge hit, and it logs in at around 10,000 words, so don’t discount the shorter stuff. See if you can simplify it into something more concise (eliminate rarely seen characters and flat secondary plots) and self publish it as a $0.99 tale to entice readers to check out your longer works (or to get a start in publishing and building an audience, if you’re just starting out). And FYI when new readers check me out, they often go for one of these shorter tales before investing in my full length novels.
Break it up into shorter pieces. If you’ve made significant progress and got stuck in the muddled middle, consider breaking the story into several different tales and posting them separately. A fiction tale can be divided into a series of related short stories, and a non-fiction tale can be broken down into shorter pieces as articles. I did this with my first failed attempt at writing a sequel to Battleground Earth – Living by Faith in a Pagan World back in 2005-2006. I had a draft of a full novel, but further reading and reflection made it clear that this was not a viable project and would need too much work to be publishable. Instead of scrapping it, I pulled the better parts from it into shorter devotionals that I submitted to magazines and websites, and many of those pieces were published. If it isn’t viable on it’s own, it may have a life as something different across several shorter works.
Not all ideas are great ones, but that doesn’t mean that something may not have a life of it’s own in a different incarnation. Don’t be too quick to give up when you get stuck. It may be that the idea that you started with has a life different from what you expected.
That’s all today. Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend.