Story Ideas: When to Abandon?

At some point in the process of melding a story into gold, you may have to abandon the story. The gold, turns into a mirage, fools good, banga dung. There are two main reason’s why authors abandon a story.

Wait… I Saw This Movie Before

During the process of asking questions and figuring out how the story, you may run into the situation that you have realized that you have “seen this movie before.” When it happened to me the first time, I had to sit back and stare in disbelief. I wondered if I was really suited for the writing life. This is the mirage, the fools gold.


However, it is not a bad thing if you took the movie as an inspiration. When you were coming up with the base few ideas to develop the story idea from, and one of them was a character, place, scene or thing-a-whatsit, then having that show through the developed idea is not a bad thing as it was intentional.

If that is the case, it is not the time to panic. The solution, -simply stated, but not simply to implement- is to think of some twists and differences that were nowhere near the movie that you took the inspiration from. The idea is that finding something that is the opposite of what you wanted to do. It is adding another base idea. If it is done well, it’ll give the story the uniqueness that you are looking for.


If the story resembles a movie where you didn’t intend to have any type of resemblance, then you may have a more significant problem. Your subconscious has been writing the story. This may or may not be a big deal. The first course of action is not to do anything drastic. Put the lights ad hammers down. No need to burn the notebooks. It will be fine. The next thing to do is to put your story idea away and ignore it for a few months. Work on something else.

After the while has passed, go back to it and read your notes and the idea. Does it still resemble the movie that you have seen?  How bad of a resemblance? As per the first part of the blog series, all stories are built out of other stories. The similarity may be to a level that it may be okay to leave. In which case, keep going.

If it is at a moderate level, then you may be able to add an opposite idea to diversify the story idea. However, if it is at a major scale, the level where it is evident that anyone may see the resemblance, then this is a major problem. At this case, it may be time to pull out the lighter and to kill it with fire.

Well not that far, but it is time to put the notes away into a dead story file and to move on. Use some individual components of the story idea and use them, but on the whole, the story isn’t worth pursuing.


The other reason why a story gets abandoned is not the fault of the story, but the creator. This is what I call a squirrelled story. This is when the author finds a new story to work on before he is done with the first story. This happens to many authors in the course of there writing careers.

They are working diligently on a story when they get a brainwave on another story. They then up there current work on hold to chase after the squirrel. This is not good productivity wise as there will always be another squirrel.

I know, as I have seven unfinished novels that I have been working on throughout a few years that I need to finish. That is a major part of my goals for this year. I need to finish those stories.

The best way to deal with these squirrels is to not ignore the ideas, however, don’t chase them either. Write down the idea into a notepad and file it away. Go back to them once the current novel is complete. Finding story ideas is a learned skill that needs the practice necessary to keep at a functioning level. If you ignore the ideas, you risk losing that skill. If you chase ever story idea that you come across, then nothing will ever get finished.

That’s it for this series, next month will be a whole new series. Stay tuned for more next Sunday.

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