Who here has started writing a story and, somewhere in the middle, lost interest? Maybe you only got two chapters in and realised you didn’t have enough plot to make a whole story. Maybe you got almost all the way to the end and just couldn’t figure out where to take it. Maybe you got distracted by a shiny, new story which was more interesting.
I’ve done all of the above. And more. I’ve been a lifelong ‘pantser’ which I do believe makes me more liable to quit on a story, because I don’t know where it’s going. I’ve been working on that, trying to figure out at least the major turning points of a plot – the hook, the black moment and the resolution if nothing else – because I figure that if I know at least the end, I’ve got better odds of finding my way there, eventually.
But what to do about all those stories that got abandoned part way through? The ones sitting in a folder on my hard drive… stashed on a USB stick lying in the pen tray… hand-written in a notebook and abandoned in a desk drawer? Are they salvageable? Will they ever see the light of day? Do they even deserve to, or have I grown enough as a writer to look back at them and say, no, let them gather dust?
I have more stories ‘in cold storage’ then I care to admit to. Honestly, I’m not even sure of the exact number. I’d have to go sifting through quite a few places to figure it out, and sometimes I’m not even sure what would count as a story… would the five pages of plot I sketched out on a modern-day Camelot retelling count as an actual story or is it just an idea I’ll never write? Some of them, I very definitely do plan to finish off, and I’d like to tell you about three of my Austen WIPs (Works In Progress) today… and then ask you to help me decide which of them I should make my focus and try to finish off first.
Lydia and the Colonel
Yes, this is exactly what it says on the tin, a Lydia/Colonel Fitzwilliam story. The basic premise is that the Colonel is sent to Brighton at the same time Lydia is there. He ends up thwarting her attempt to elope with Wickham, but accidentally compromises her (they’re caught out together at midnight) in the process. Of course, he does the honourable thing and proposes marriage.
Where I’m up to: Better than half way through. Darcy and Elizabeth have made it to Brighton and been filled in on what’s happened thus far.
What has yet to happen: A wedding… and then the colonel gets called away with the army. He has to. Lydia’s still 15. Darcy and Elizabeth get married and Lydia spends her time living with them, her mother-in-law, and her parents at Longbourn. There’s a time skip and the colonel returns when she’s 18, to discover that she’s grown up into a woman he likes a lot better than the silly girl who tried to run off with Wickham.
Anne de Bourgh’s Diary
I think I’ve talked about this one before. Anne’s illnesses have been caused by Lady Catherine’s Munchausen by proxy syndrome, aided and abetted by a quack of a doctor. Anne is devastated when Darcy marries Elizabeth, not because she loves him, but because she saw him as a potential escape route. She ends up admitting all to her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, goes to live with the Darcys while she improves. It’s an Anne/Col Fitzwilliam story, though Mary gets a side romance with the doctor who oversees Anne’s recovery. It is written purely in the form on Anne’s diary entries, which has been a fun challenge as deep first-person point of view isn’t really something I’ve done much.
Where I’m up to: Better than half way through. The colonel was seriously injured at Waterloo and is now back in England, actually staying at Netherfield with the Bingleys. Anne and the Darcys relocated there too. Circumstances have made Fitzwilliam now next in line for the earldom of Matlock and Caroline Bingley is trying very, very hard to throw herself at him.
What has yet to happen: Er… yes. This is one where I kind of ran out of plot. Caroline needs thwarting somehow and Fitzwilliam needs to make it clear to Anne that she’s more than just his sickly cousin. (Incidentally, she’s not his cousin. Lady Catherine’s not actually her mother. It’s Complicated).
A Loss At Longbourn
The basic premise: Mr Bennet is found deceased in his study the morning after the Netherfield ball. Bingley decides he’s not leaving without saying goodbye to Jane; Darcy accompanies him to make sure he doesn’t accidentally commit and they literally walk in on the household just as Mr Bennet’s body is discovered. Jane’s reactions make it suddenly very clear that she does, in fact, love Bingley, who is definitely Not Leaving now! Caroline and Louisa leave for London in a huff; Darcy decides he’s staying to support his friend. Mr Collins acts like an utter butthead and pretty much announces that Elizabeth is going to marry him without actually getting around to asking her. Darcy lies his head off and tells Collins he asked Mr Bennet for Lizzy’s hand the night before.
Where I’m up to: Maybe… a third of the way through? I have just over 18,000 words down and I planned for a total of 50,000 words.
What has yet to happen: The Bennets are going to get spirited away to London, away from Mr Collins’ control. Though they’re still in mourning, Bingley is going to marry Jane by special license. And then… I think I need a time skip because I want to get them out of full mourning and into half-mourning, so that’s 6 months, which takes us to May of the following year. I’m… not sure about the rest. I think Darcy goes to Pemberley with Georgiana and possibly the Bingleys and Bennets all go to Pemberley together. Or maybe Wickham comes back into play somewhere because I haven’t dealt with him yet. Lady Catherine is going to be Most Displeased if she gets wind of Darcy and Elizabeth maybe-sort-of being engaged. Mr Collins probably marries Charlotte Lucas in a massive huff.
At some point, I do hope to finish all three of these off. I’ve re-read what I have of them recently and the standard of the writing is acceptable to me; I’m happy with what I have so far. I just honestly haven’t decided which of them I should work on next, so please… help me decide! Cast your vote in the poll below!
I’d love to hear any ideas you might have as to where these unfinished tales might take our favourite characters! Please feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments, and your reasons for your choice in the poll, too!