Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane

     Every writer can attest to the fact that we are our own biggest critic.  No story we write will ever be perfect, the characters will never be quite as real on the page as they are to us and there will always be more to add.  Sometimes, a story will feel as though it is beyond salvaging and so it is set aside for something new.  This can be due to boredom, frustration or just plain lack of potential.  How do you know if a project is truly beyond saving or if it just needs a bit of TLC?

     One way that I can tell that a project is worth reworking is when I set it aside and weeks or even months later, it starts to permeate my thoughts again.  Much like when the story first came to fruition, its voice grows louder and louder until it can no longer be ignored.  A project that refuses to be ignored is one that must surely be worth sharing.  It may require minor changes, or it may require a complete rewrite, scrapping entire paragraphs or even chapters.

     Eventually, we must reach a point where we say that the story is good enough; good enough to be shared with others, even if we still have changes to “perfect” it.  Beta readers, friends or family are the perfect starting point.  Sharing your work with another person is the first step to completing it.

     But sometimes, a project truly is not worth saving.  Maybe it made sense while it was in your head, but once it was put on paper, you found it really just didn’t work.  Maybe the characters were too flat or not real enough and no matter what you tried, you just couldn’t bring them to life.  There are some cases where a project is just beyond repair and despite our best efforts, we must choose to scrap the whole thing and move on to the next one.

     How can you tell if a project is doomed for the scrap pile?