Aug 09 2011

8 Reasons Authors Don’t Complete Their Manuscripts

Published by at 4:47 pm under Getting Published,Plotting,Writer's Block

COMMITMENT ISSUES

1. The author is working on too many projects to finish one. It’s far better to complete one manuscript than to go halfway on two. Most publishers won’t consider an unfinished novel manuscript from an inexperienced author.

 

2. The author is unwilling and/or unable to set time aside for writing. Alternately, perhaps the author sets aside a regular time, but is not consistent about actually using it. If you put aside one hour per day for writing, you can pretty easily write 1-2 pages. (Actually, I’d like to phrase that more confidently. If you can sit down for an hour and do nothing but write, you WILL write at least 1-2 pages. If you can do 1-2 pages a day in sequence, you will have a manuscript drafted within 6 months). If you’re writing at your computer, I’d recommend turning off the Internet because I find it tends to reduce productivity.

 

3. The author gives up on the manuscript and starts another. Moving on could be a good idea if you’re more likely to finish the next one, but are you?  What will be different about this next one?  (I know too many authors that switch from one to the next to the next without actually finishing any).

 

I feel that one of the most common reasons an author will give up on a manuscript is if the main character doesn’t seem to be working. If that’s the issue, you could probably salvage a substantial portion of the story by working in a second point-of-view character (either a new character or an interesting, preexisting one). After you’ve finished the first draft, you can opt to remove the original main character altogether or do some rewriting so that the two perspectives mesh together more coherently. (A caveat: I would not recommend lightly deciding to do 3+ points of view. If you already have two POVs and want to add a third, when you come to the end of the first draft, I’d recommend carefully considering whether one can be removed and/or merged into another).

 

3.1: When is the best time to give up on a manuscript?  If you’re just in the brainstorming phase, I don’t think it costs very much to shelve a premise and try something else.  The more time you’ve put into it, the more I would encourage you to try to salvage it rather than toss it out altogether.  For example, one possibility is to consider a new main character (as above).  You could also consider a different genre.  For example, you could probably switch from superhero action to detective/mystery or vice versa–the story will feel radically different even though most of the plot events could remain.

 

PERFECTIONISM

4. The writer constantly rewrites chapters before the first draft is complete. Generally, I’d save major rewriting until you’ve finished the first draft (unless, perhaps, you want to overhaul the plot and it would be really confusing to push forward with what you have). Rewriting before the first draft is complete strikes me as a mostly-hopeless venture because you probably won’t have a very good idea of where the story is going before you get there. (Even if you outline—there’s no way to predict which ways you will adapt and change your outline over the course of writing the book until you actually do).

 

5. The author sends it out for beta-reviews too early and gets discouraged. Unless you’re desperately stuck, I wouldn’t get reviewers involved before the first draft is complete. Reviews are usually written with the mindset of “How can this be perfected?” and a story early in the development process might have hundreds of issues that could be perfected.  Getting a review that points out these issues early in the development process could shake the author by convincing him/her that the story doesn’t have much promise.  Please don’t worry about that—when you’re ready to rewrite, you can execute darn near anything better.  I’ve seen too many really strong stories start out as sort of crappy drafts to believe that a draft’s crappiness is something to get discouraged about.

 

Until the first draft is complete, I think “How can this be completed?” is a much more pressing question. Don’t worry about perfection until you have a draft completed. (For one thing, I feel it is nigh-impossible to perfect a piece that hasn’t been drafted. Finishing the draft gives you a scaffolding to build on or ingredients to cook with).

 

DIFFICULTIES WITH PLOTTING

6. The author loses track of where the story is going and allows that to discourage him/her. Don’t worry about it, just keep writing. It’s okay if your first draft has rough and/or nonsensical transitions, plot elements that are introduced but totally neglected, etc. It’s much easier to deal with those when you have the full draft in front of you. (Then you can examine which plot threads didn’t quite pan out and can be removed, which plot threads should be developed more fully, how to create smooth transitions between your scenes, whether to reorder the scenes, etc).

 

7. The author writes out of sequence and gets horribly discouraged when the story fragments turn into an incoherent wreck. I’d recommend writing chapter one and then chapter two and then chapter three and only skipping around as a last resort. If your manuscript is giving you anxiety, I think it’ll help a lot to focus on what’s coming next chapter rather than worrying about what could happen 10 or 20 chapters down the line.

 

8. There are too few goals, obstacles, character growth and/or consequences to propel the story past writer’s block.  For more details here, please see this article on writer’s block and this one.

Beating Writers' Block

Some other twists you can throw in:

  • The character’s goals change.  A character might “fail” at a goal because he decides that it is no longer worth pursuing.  (More commonly, failures are caused by external opposition).
  • The character is initially unsuccessful but keeps trying.  (For example, the Captain America movie would have been pretty boring if Rodgers had given up after the Army told him no the first five times).
  • A problem or obstacle could be self-inflicted.   For example, in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, there are external villains (the 7 Evil Exes) but the biggest obstacles to Scott’s relationship with Ramona come from Scott himself, like his irresponsibility and immaturity.  (He, ahem, cheats on her with a high-schooler, which is not the best way to win a 24th birthday).

 

For another style of plotting, please see Organizing Your Story with Cause and Effect.

51 responses so far

51 Responses to “8 Reasons Authors Don’t Complete Their Manuscripts”

  1. B. Macon 09 Aug 2011 at 4:49 pm

    The idea for this article came from the anonymous Google user that searched for top reasons manuscripts don’t get finished. Thanks, international man/woman/child of mystery!

  2. Castilleon 09 Aug 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Out of the four novel manuscripts I have attempted, I have only finished two so far.

    Those two were BOTH Nanowrimo manuscripts, written under a very rushed 30 day deadline.

    Out of my four manuscripts, I have permanently canned two of them. (My 2nd, and my third.)

    My first novel manuscript still shows promise, even though it was still unfinished. It is the only manuscript that I have ever gotten which looks like it could actually make a publishable length of 80k words. (I abandoned it when it was 40k words and the story wasn’t even half over.) I sometimes feel like I could go back to it, flesh out some of the characters and erase some obvious mistakes I made.

    My fourth novel manuscript was for Camp NanoWrimo… Somehow I got tired of writing for 30 days nonstop and just speeded up the plot to finish by the end of the month. 50k words… I was having a bit of trouble thinking of things to increase the word count without it seeming like useless filler. Now that I look back on it, barely a week after finishing it… I feel that with some work and revisions it could be something. I see where some new character could be inserted already to strength the narrative.

    Right now… I’m trying to focus more on short stories before I wander off into a novel again. I’m definitely not abandoning the fictional universe I created just because of the failure of the 2nd and 3rd novel. (My 4th was a standalone that had nothing to do with it.)
    …Instead, I’m just going to retconn everything in my own head, and pretend that the events in those works never happened.

  3. Wingson 09 Aug 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Usually I can figure out how a story begins and where it’s going. It’s the middly bits that are harder to write.

    On the bright side, spur-of-the-moment writing like for NaNoWriMo is exceptionally helpful for getting through the middles of stories (Almost all of the characters in Strawberries and the Meaning of Life were added initially to move the plot along, and I actually managed to get from the beginning to the plotted finale within 30 days).

    – Wings

  4. B. Macon 09 Aug 2011 at 7:27 pm

    “It is the only manuscript that I have ever gotten which looks like it could actually make a publishable length of 80k words. (I abandoned it when it was 40k words and the story wasn’t even half over.) I sometimes feel like I could go back to it, flesh out some of the characters and erase some obvious mistakes I made.” Well, you could take it up to 90,000 words pretty easily. If 90,000 isn’t enough, maybe you could split it up into two novels and then try to sell the first one. Or maybe you could write it up to (let’s say) 100,000 – 120,000 words and then cut out unnecessary scenes until you got to the length you wanted to submit at.

  5. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Aug 2011 at 3:01 am

    Getting through a first draft is so hard… I’ve split my current project into three parts so that I’m not too overwhelmed by it, I’ve finished the first part and I’m close to the end of the second, but God is it difficult to keep focused. Every time I look at what I already have, I start to think it’s complete crap. XD

    I have so much to change later, characters to cut, plot elements to add or change, description and dialogue. At least I’ll have the framework of my draft when I work on my second copy.

  6. steton 10 Aug 2011 at 3:28 am

    Where did you find that lovely chart?

  7. B. Macon 10 Aug 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I made it in Photoshop. (If you, or anyone else, would like to use it, please go ahead).

  8. Aj of Earthon 10 Aug 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Personally, it’s #2 that gets me the most. Sometimes, but not necessarily always, finding time to get into a groove can be difficult. It’s one thing to think about the story all day long, about the characters and the plot points and set pieces, etc… but consistently finding the appropriate time (and also the appropriate mind-space) to actually write the narrative, is another.

    I find a good mixture of focus, determination and also expectancy helps in that regard… but still, sometimes it’s hard to get that groove.

    Vigilance!

  9. Grenacon 10 Aug 2011 at 7:23 pm

    For me it’s 4 :I

    It’s mostly trying to find out where to go for the next chapter. Everything typed comes out as boring to me and I scrap it to start again.

    I find that reading helps a lot with this. Reading awesomely written stories is like an adrenaline rush. Then of course there’s music. Really awesome music.

    Also the “Permission to Suck” article was a wake-up slap to the face. I applied it to my drawing too. The rough draft/sketch can be horrible, ‘melt-your-face-off” abominations because the final draft/lineart will be the refinement of that piece and ‘the best’ work. Drawing wise, it’ll probably still suck, but ‘shiny desu’ makes everything pretty \o/

  10. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Aug 2011 at 7:43 pm

    At the moment, I think my problem is 8. I need more conflict – the last time something major happened was a character getting the crap beat out of him a few chapters ago. I make terrible things happen but it feels like the characters get over the trouble too easily, or fix it too soon, but I also don’t want it to be wangsty.

    In my next draft, I really need to make it harder for them to be happy, without making them miserable all the time.

  11. Contra Gloveon 11 Aug 2011 at 1:48 pm

    #3 is how my current story came to be. I had come close to completing a manuscript before, but I went back over it and it was a mess, so I just mothballed it for a moment to write the short story that eventually became my current novel manuscript. I realized that I would enjoy writing about a magical girl more, so I did that, and I must say, it worked wonders!

    I’ve largely avoided #1, since I realize that any first draft needs your full attention.

  12. carol ritzelon 13 Aug 2011 at 11:12 am

    i like this name.twiter for twitter any how, in college we had to write 15pages in a day ,a do or die , no excuses. now its an automatic . no problem with it.

  13. Anne R. Allenon 13 Aug 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Excellent analysis. I think I’ve probably abandoned manuscripts for most of these reasons. Writing in fragments does NOT work for me. Of course, there’s also the reason that the premise kind of sucks. Or that you’re trying to make a short story into a novel. Or vice versa.

  14. […] Superhero Nation: 8 Reasons Authors Don’t Complete Their Manuscripts Once you identify your problem, solving it is that much easier. […]

  15. VicNoiron 17 Aug 2011 at 7:13 pm

    In my love of entertainment, I often get into ‘moods’ where I’ll watch, read, play, etc. one particular thing. A lot of the time, this makes me want to write fan fiction and since my mood can change in a moment, it has left me with lots of different, unfinished fan fics.

    At least when I’m in a non-specific comics mood, I can just write the kind of comic I’d like to read (though I often fall prey to #3 when I try this).

  16. […] B. Mac at Superhero Nation details 8 reasons authors don’t complete their manuscripts. […]

  17. […] 8 reasons authors don’t complete their manuscripts, by B. […]

  18. Gurion Omegaon 16 Mar 2012 at 5:53 pm

    What is Camp Nanowrimo?

  19. Gurion Omegaon 16 Mar 2012 at 6:01 pm

    I REALLY REALLY REALLY need to develop discipline for writing ONE NOVEL AT A TIME.
    But I have made some progress; the novel I originally started a forum on this sight has (conceptually) soldified. But currently I have only five and a half pages banged out, two and a half not considering the prelude. I’m going to try gradually slipping into the daily writing, ie, instead of a whole sixty minutes, I’ll do twenty-five to thirty, and then from there. Wish me luck?

  20. B. Macon 16 Mar 2012 at 7:21 pm

    “Based on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help you write the rough draft of your novel in a month… other than November!… Writing begins on June 1 [or] on August 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by the last day of the month. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.”

    Good luck on your schedule. I think starting out with a page (~300 words) per day is okay, and you can probably do a page in 30 minutes. If you can get your pace up to 2 pages per day, you can do a 90,000 word manuscript in 150 days.

  21. YoungAuthoron 17 Mar 2012 at 5:27 am

    I finished a manuscript, however, I’m rewriting and adding chapters only because i feel they are necessary to plot development. thats ok right? and i started another manuscript for another story, but i stopped, even though i know i could finish it. what should i do with that one?

  22. B. McKenzieon 17 Mar 2012 at 6:17 am

    “I finished a manuscript, but I’m rewriting and adding chapters because I feel they are necessary for plot development. That’s okay, right?” Sure. I would recommend rewriting, adding chapters/inserting scenes and removing chapters/deleting scenes as necessary. The above post only cautions against heavy rewriting while the author is still in the process of writing the first draft, but I’m assuming that you have enough of the plot developed that you have a pretty good idea where you’re going.

    “I started another manuscript for another story, but I stopped… What should I do with that one?” If you have one manuscript drafted, I would definitely recommend 1) rewriting that, 2) eventually showing it to beta reviewers, and 3) submitting it to a few publishers. Repeat cycle until published. I wouldn’t recommend giving up on the manuscript and/or switching to another project until you’ve spent at least 6-12 months on this.



    YA, I’d also recommend spending 30-60 minutes once a day or every few days on studying the mechanics of writing (e.g. grammar/punctuation/capitalization). Even a really solid story is dead on arrival if it has hundreds of typos*. (If a manuscript takes, say, an extra 100 hours to proofread because of excessive typos, the extra editing would cost $1500 worth of labor. Also, the editors are probably overworked to begin with, so it’d be a problem for the other books they were working on).
    UCLA’s Graduate Writing Center has a useful roundup of resources here.

  23. R. Foxon 17 Mar 2012 at 12:06 pm

    another thing to consider is to start working on your second unfinished manuscript while you put your first one away (lock it away so you dont get tempted to touch it) for 6 weeks or so. That will put your focus completely on the second one you are writing. Then after the 6 weeks you may be done with the second and can lock that one away while returning to the first. The beauty of it is that the first will feel like a book you are picking up new, thus allowing you to view it critically for the second draft. I find that if i go straight from first draft to second without downtime I am much to attached to it, thus I prevent myself from making necessary cuts and edits. I find that I try to justify reasons for leaving bad writing or poorly constructed and unneccesary scenes in because I am still too emotionally invested from the exhaustion of the first write. Secondly, you sometimes may forget about scenes you wrote, thus when you come back to them it is as if they are nearly foreign to you which again lets you read it with an objective view helping to make good edits.

    all in all, this may help you to fight splitting your focus between two stories which may result in two poor or two unfinished stories, letting you focus on creating one good one or possibly even two good ones over a period of slightly longer time.

  24. B. McKenzieon 17 Mar 2012 at 4:12 pm

    “I find that I try to justify reasons for leaving bad writing or poorly constructed and unnecessary scenes in because I am still too emotionally invested from the exhaustion of the first write.” I find your solution very helpful.

  25. YoungAuthoron 17 Mar 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks B. Mckenzie! the reason i stopped the other one was b/c ( i know, this is really lame) but i couldn’t think of an exciting way for the main character (he’s an assassin) to kill the three people in the beginning. i wanted it to grab the reader’s attention and absorb them in the action.

  26. Rick Crawfordon 25 Jun 2012 at 4:32 pm

    The writer constantly rewrites chapters before the first draft is complete. That’s the one that tempts me a lot. I get sidetracked with rewriting before I finish the first draft. I promise my self I will try not to do this anymore. ;))))

  27. WritingNinjaon 17 Sep 2012 at 8:23 am

    6 and 7 happened to me. I’m not really saying that I trashed the thing and will never write it again. I think the whole story needs a complete rewrite. My draft isn’t finished because I hit a big climax part and got struck. I think it’s because I didn’t plan enough. I spent a lot of time learning what not to do. 😛

    I’m starting a new story. I’m pretty confident I will finish this one because now I have a lot of tools to keep me on track. Including a binder where I have all my scenes, research, maps, and characters listed.

  28. B. McKenzieon 17 Sep 2012 at 12:27 pm

    “I think it’s because I didn’t plan enough.” I’m getting the impression that perfectionism is a bigger issue than planning is. There’s no corner you can write yourself into that you can’t write your way out of, although it may not be pretty (e.g. once the manuscript is drafted, you might end up scrapping thousands of words or perhaps tens of thousands on words on plot arcs and scenes which didn’t bear as much fruit as hoped*).

    *It’s perfectly acceptable in a rough draft to have major holes in the story. Once the manuscript is drafted, then you can smooth out the transitions, fill in any plot holes, and generally improve everything. The first draft is just scaffolding and doesn’t need to be pretty.

  29. WritingNinjaon 18 Sep 2012 at 11:24 am

    I guess it is perfectionism. I’ve been writing a story that is about magic set in modern times. I’ve been pretty good about keeping the magical world and the human world separated. The big part I reach in the story is where a crises happens where the humans will know about the magical world. Or I can just keep the magical world hidden.
    If I work hard enough I can just write myself out of it.

    The problem is I find myself worrying more about the fact that my main character is flat enough that if I took her out of the story, then it wouldn’t effect it. I don’t know what I want my characters to do, how to change, and how they help the story move along. At this point, I just want to set it aside and give myself a break and come back to it. The ideas aren’t bad, it’s just a big mess to work through and I’m kinda sick of working it out.

  30. amaloneon 31 Dec 2012 at 9:20 pm

    This is one of my favorite articles! I am extremely discouraged with my plot and I’m fighting to finish. Do you think it would be a stupid move to have my love interest betray my hero if she had to do it to keep her parents alive? It would make more sense to the story but I think it could be damaging to the reader if that makes sense? Or maybe I just really want the reader to like her ?

  31. B. McKenzieon 31 Dec 2012 at 11:01 pm

    ” Do you think it would be a stupid move to have my love interest betray my hero if she had to do it to keep her parents alive?” I don’t know what her personality is like or what betraying the hero would entail, but I think it might be plausible that someone would betray one loved one to save two. I’d recommend adding significant consequences to this decision, though–for one thing, it’d probably kill the romance in short order (unless PERHAPS there are some extraordinary extenuating circumstances, like her risking her own life to save him from her betrayal or otherwise majorly sacrificing herself in an act of contrition). By the way, killing the romance would probably be okay–it would just force you to come up with a different reason to keep the love interest in the story.

    “Or maybe I just really want the reader to like her?” It doesn’t sound likely that she will be very likable, especially if readers don’t care all that much about her parents. (It probably won’t go over well with readers if she’s sacrificing the main character in an attempt to save two faceless and forgettable side-characters).

    While the love-interest will probably not be very likable after her decision, it’s possible that the main character and readers will miss the romance the characters had before her terrible dilemma drove them apart.



    However, I suppose it depends on what the betrayal entails. Are we talking about something likely to result in serious physical harm for him?

  32. amaloneon 01 Jan 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for responding! Here’s the scenerio, I’ve written them into a seemingly safe place to hide underground with other teens who are all the product of a gov. Conspiracy involving aliens. Underground seemed like the best option since the bad guys are everywhere and I used it as a way to explain they are half alien but… now I’m frustrated. I was thinking maybe the gov built the underground facility and they don’t realize it until hero tries to escape and learns they are only at the bottom level and the experiments etc. are located at the top levels or the gov finds them thanks to the girl who the bad guys used to lure hero and she did it because they threatened to kill her parents.
    Love interest is very close to her parents who are Romanian immigrants that have sacrificed a lot for her education etc. (Parents make a brief appearance in the story) Either way something has to happen! Also, do you think I’m using too many cliches? Since they are hybrids they do have powers but they aren’t easy to use on the surface due to environmental factors which is another reason for the underground hideout.Hope that helps? Sorry my grammar is so bad i’m going back to school to improve! I really appreciate your feedback! I have no one left. My family can no longer tolerate my endless pleas for feedback and my friends politely change the subject.

  33. GENESISon 22 Jul 2013 at 2:32 am

    you guys are useless i thought i could find something out from here but cant really find anything it no use so you guys should just delete this page whoever make this is, i am not joking i am not trying to hurt you but i am telling you the true

  34. NJHeroFanon 22 Jul 2013 at 3:14 pm

    GENESIS, I’d love to see your website, blog, or constructive posts that can help someone. Don’t be shy now… Can you share a link?

  35. B. McKenzieon 22 Jul 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I’m not hurt, Genesis, but I am a bit confused as to what the issue is. Was there something in particular you were looking for that you didn’t find? How would you have approached the article differently?



    Genesis, if English is your first language, I would recommend either looking into careers that are light on writing or getting a KILLER proofreader. If English isn’t your first language, I’d recommend taking it up with your ESL/TESOL program.

  36. Blackscaron 23 Jul 2013 at 11:16 am

    Oh, jeez, number two is my biggest downfall. I go onto the internet to research one thing relating to my novel, and when I check the clock, two hours of mindless web-surfing have gone by.

    I’m going to have to start shutting my internet off whenever I go to write, it seems.

  37. Blackscaron 23 Jul 2013 at 3:50 pm

    #3: Did you mean: me, every time I try to write something?

    I think I may scrap my current manuscript, as I can’t see my plot going anywhere.

    However, I have a fully-formed outline for my new idea, from beginning to end. I’ve even planned out what the final confrontation will look like. It will feature the same characters from my past one, albeit modified quite a bit.

    I feel horrible about changing everything so suddenly, but I think it’ll work out better in the long run.

    So, I’ll be posting things about my newest plot sometime soon. I’m going to force myself to commit to it, this time! 🙂

    -Blackscar

  38. B. McKenzieon 23 Jul 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Blackscar, if that is an issue, can I suggest Write or Die ($5) or Freedom ($10)? I’ve found that both are very helpful.

    “I think I may scrap my current manuscript, as I can’t see my plot going anywhere.
    However, I have a fully-formed outline for my new idea, from beginning to end. I’ve even planned out what the final confrontation will look like. It will feature the same characters from my past one, albeit modified quite a bit.” Solid… I’m definitely a huge fan of recycling unused material. I’d encourage you to have a few friends and/or people from a writing circle check out a summary of the original manuscript to see if you can kick-start your original story, but if you do have to start a sort-of-new story, reusing previous material will almost certainly help with productivity and morale.

  39. Blackscaron 23 Jul 2013 at 5:14 pm

    @B. McKenzie

    Thank you so much for the suggestions! 🙂

    I think I’ll give Write or Die a try. I’m probably going to hate myself for it as soon as I download it, though I know I’ll be thanking myself later once I’ve finally finished a manuscript. (Kamikaze mode legitimately frightens me, but I don’t have any other choice.)

    Now, all I need to do is actually buy the installment, and I’ll be all set.

    -Blackscar

  40. Creedon 21 Sep 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Alright my friend, How about this…What happens when you have the idea in your head laid out pretty well, but you get writers block? Don’t know what should happen next? How should it be constructed? a little advice would help! thank you

  41. B. McKenzieon 21 Sep 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hello, Creed.

    “Don’t know what should happen next?” I can’t be very specific without knowing anything about the story, but in general, adding or developing a problem or complication is usually an effective way to get past writer’s block. Look back to what your characters have already done. What are some potentially negative consequences which could result from their decisions? (E.g. creating/exacerbating a conflict with a protagonist or a new antagonist, the character losing or jeopardizing something he/she values, giving an antagonist an opportunity to act, making an antagonist more powerful in some way, adding another goal, etc).

    Pretty much EVERY major decision can create conflict. Even something as simple as rescuing someone could result in conflicts with the rescued person. For example, in The Dark Knight, Dent bitterly holds it against Batman that Batman chose to rescue Dent rather than his girlfriend. In The Incredibles, a suicidal person didn’t want to be rescued (and was horribly injured during the rescue). Or perhaps the rescued character resents the intrusion (e.g. “I was handling it just fine until you messed everything up”).

    Rescuing someone could also result in the following sorts of conflicts:
    –Conflict related to whether it was a good idea to rescue/help the person in question. E.g. if a serial killer is trying to kill himself, saving him may result in innocent people getting hurt and/or him admitting something which makes life more difficult for the protagonist in some way.
    –Conflict with the people who put the rescued person into danger.
    –Conflict with an unrelated third party (e.g. a girlfriend who thinks that the superhero is sacrificing too much on behalf of others).
    –Conflict with anyone who disagrees about how the superhero went about the rescue/assistance (e.g. a cops vs. vigilantes conflict).
    –Internal conflict — e.g. the rescue/assistance turned out so far from expected that the main character seriously doubts what he’s doing. For example, in Breaking Bad, the main character puts himself into tremendous danger to provide for his family (by resorting to making drugs), but his wife is more horrified than impressed when she learns the truth. This causes the character to (temporarily) give up on his criminal work.

  42. B. McKenzieon 21 Sep 2013 at 9:23 pm

    “Now, all I need to do is actually buy the installment, and I’ll be all set.” Well, buying a $5 program is definitely the easy part. Actually FINISHING the novel is harder. 😀

  43. Creedon 21 Sep 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Haha! Hey great suggestions! The major thing already committed?? My lead character has already attempted to kill his family’s murderer! but that was years ago… the murder’s back, so he’s probably gonna try again. Idk, any thoughts?

  44. B. McKenzieon 22 Sep 2013 at 12:50 am

    “My lead character has already attempted to kill his family’s murderer! but that was years ago… the murderer’s back, so he’s probably gonna try again.” Okay. Has anything changed since the first time he tried to kill the murderer? (For example, if perhaps he had settled down again, we might see conflict between him and his new family).

  45. Creedon 22 Sep 2013 at 10:14 am

    Hmm…He left for the military, then came back to the city and joined the police forces- that turned out to be corrupted. Destroyed ever known file of his existence and service and lives as a repair-man. That’s about all so far though! I should’ve clarified XD his parents were murdered, he’s not married

  46. Glamtronon 29 Sep 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I also get stuck!.. I so love sci-fi and come up with ideas but.. At a point i can’t scientifically back it up quite well(not a science student and not a mistake that i’m not) sometimes research helps..sometimes i don’t even know what and where to read to get what i’m looking for

  47. steven e. browneon 04 Nov 2013 at 8:28 am

    My solution to finishing a book is to create a goal for the main characters and another character who’s sole purpose is to block the main character.

    Then I add two good guy assistants, and two bad guy assistants. Now with 6 balanced characters, there are plenty of opportunities for conflict, growth and side plots.

    I put these concepts in a short book that I am not going to promote here, but you can find it on amazon.

    Without constant, contained conflict, writer’s block will arise.

    3by3 writing method author.

  48. B. McKenzieon 04 Nov 2013 at 8:39 am

    “My solution to finishing a book is to create a goal for the main characters and another character who’s sole purpose is to block the main character.” It seems to have worked well for J. J. Jameson — his vendetta against Spider-Man almost never has any motivation to it. That said, it may be helpful to give the obstacle a goal independent of (and/or potentially assisted by) the main character. I suspect this will result in a more three-dimensional conflict you can develop over time. For example, over the course of Breaking Bad, the main character works with several drug cartels that are occasionally cooperative/helpful but far more often dangerous antagonists.

  49. Anonymouson 22 Aug 2014 at 3:34 pm

    1, 3, 6, 7, and 8 all describe my flaws as a storyteller PERFECTLY

  50. […] 8 reasons authors don’t complete their manuscripts, by B. […]

  51. Tomason 11 Apr 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Are you spying on me??? *looks around with a paranoid face* GO AWAY!!!

    I think you have become my main writing advisor. I’ll keep my fight scenes advisor and my fashion advisor, but you are officially the head of the team.

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