Knowing when to let things go
Ten years ago I started to write a story. It was a strange hybrid, a modern here-and-now setting fused with a matter-of-fact approach to religion, fantasy and magic. A low-concept urban fantasy thriller exploring high-concept theological ideas.
Ten years on, I have an idea of how the story starts and finishes. I know the characters intimately. I feel like I’m at home in all the settings.
And now I’m laying them down and walking away, not forever, but certainly for now.
When the idea for The Long Watch first bubbled up to the surface it was fresh and original. But when the idea came to me I was a lawyer, not a writer. I was training for a profession that left me little time to write, and so I did not diligently pursue the idea.
Since then the reading market has been flooded with religious conspiracy stories, vampire novels, and dark urban fantasy to an extent that my idea seems a little “me too”.
I love the characters, and there are many readers I know who have told me how much they have enjoyed what they’ve been allowed to see of it so far.
But the idea isn’t white-hot in my mind right now. Other ideas, better ideas, are pressing to be heard. So for now The Long Watch goes back into my folder marked “future ideas”, rather than “work in progress”.
Sometimes the best decision to make for the integrity of a story is the hard one. To completely rewrite it. To remove a favourite character who appeared central. Or in this case, to stop and move on.
So readers, what ideas have you had that are now in that awful impasse? Are you brave enough to abandon them, or do you prefer to push on through? And for those who have ever put an idea to the side in the past, have you returned to it with more vigour and better ideas?
The floor is open to you in the comments. Let’s hear your stories.