BetterMost, Wyoming & Brokeback Mountain Forum

Brokeback Mountain: Our Community's Common Bond => Brokeback Mountain Fan Fiction & Poetry => Topic started by: louisev on December 05, 2008, 07:12:59 pm

Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on December 05, 2008, 07:12:59 pm
I think that the reason so many fics get abandoned is a few different reasons, really.  I remember writing my first book-length story, this is going back over a dozen years ago, and I couldn't finish it.  That and four or five other stories that never really got past Chapter 4... and I kept starting to write new stories until I finally started a book and actually finished it.  July 28, 2000.  I had been working on novels since the mid 1970's and it took me 25 years to finally complete a book.  However, by the time I came to BBM and was encouraged by someone familiar with my other fiction to write a fan fic, I was very wary and decided I was only going to write something short and uninvolved, because I did not want the pressure of having to come through for either the fan or other readers to follow up.  So I wrote a 10 chapter novelette.  But that took almost no time at all, and I found myself with an idea for another story almost immediately.  And because this was about at high-tide of the BBM fandom, there were readers EVERYWHERE, and I quickly got a very vocal following when I started posting Taking Chances.  I had expect it to be a 10 chapter story, but BOY WAS I WRONG.

However, not everyone, in fact, very few fan fiction writers have written a novel before, or finished one, and I can say that it is much, much harder to finish a book length story than to start one.  It is also, often necessary to go back and revise things, particularly when you aren't working from an outline (I never work from an outline, I wouldn't ever keep to it.)  Also, much of the impetus for writing a fan fiction story depends upon the feedback and support of readers, and I have seen countless examples of an author stopping dead after getting unexpected feedback from a reader which either makes them too self-conscious to go on, or defensive, or points up difficulties with the plot or characters that the writer does not know how to resolve.  Or someone just being plain mean.  Or the writer being devastated by criticism and unprepared for their own lack of motivation to complete the story after that criticism.

Very few fan fiction writers simply stop writing.  They, like I when I was first starting to write novels back in high school, found a gap in their motivation or inspiration, and deal with it by changing fandoms, going back to being a voracious reader and stop writing for a period of time (I do this as well, since I am an addict-level novel reader) before returning to start work on something new and fresh and leave the old one hanging.

There are some things to look for, however, to determine whether your author is going to finish or leave you hanging.  Primarily, if an author has never finished a story before, chances are that author will not finish the current one.  A few other handy tips:

 1) if the author has completed writing other books of any genre, or other fan fics, chances are he or she will finish the fic you are reading now.  2) if the author posts updates on a regular basis - even if it is only once per month - and keeps to a regular schedule and seems to have time for the writing, then chances are better than even that the fic will be finished.  3) If the fic is receiving a modest or moderate amount of reader attention rather than an enormous fan club of shrieking fans (they DO put pressure on an author that is not necessarily positive in terms of productivity), it is more likely to be completed, because the author is not depending upon audience attention and feedback as a motivator, and just as important, is not getting distracted with "meta" discussions that take away valuable writing time.  4) If the author seems to be devoted to one story at a time, chances are that story is going to get completed.  An author who works on more than one fandom simultaneously, more than one writing project, or more than one fic at a time is dividing her creativity, and the competition for that creativity usually creates two incomplete, inferior products rather than one good solid fic.  And 5) if the author vanishes for long periods of time and keeps setting deadlines that are being missed, or has done the same vanishing act in the past on other stories, then the author is really not motivated to complete the story and it is less likely to be finished.

That having been said, all fan fiction is a labor of love and inspiration, and there are a whole lot of factors that go into a story getting finished.  But I am sure there are those of you who follow the personal blogs of authors whose work you are waiting for to be updated, and they seem to have all the time in the world for other fandoms, other stories they update more regularly, social life, kids, vacations, leaving you to wonder, "so what are we, chopped liver, aren't we ever going to get the rest of that story?"   I have had to face the ongoing desire of readers to see my next story or my next chapter, but I console myself by the fact that I made daily updates to some very long, involved fics for almost 2 solid years before I ever slackened my pace, and I completed every story I started, so if I am making people wait a week or two or three weeks for an update, I don't feel like I am "letting someone down."  And when I take a vacation from writing to read 15 or 20 books I didn't read during my 2 year fanfic blitz, I won't feel guilty about it.  But I'm an experienced author who has experience finishing books - and most fanfic authors aren't - they are not used to marshalling their energies to get to the finish of a story, they might not know how they will finish it, in which case I think it is only fair to release the outline of the story after a reasonable time period and let the fans "own" the ending if they aren't going to get it from the original writer.  And they might have personal and social difficulties that make them want to bail out of the story or the fandom very suddenly - fandom is a volatile social environment.
Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on December 05, 2008, 07:16:32 pm
Yes there are Marge, and I think it,s very unfair. Look at Dreaming. Cathliln promised the epilogue, TWO YEARS ago. It still isn,t finished, yet she,s been writing other stories. Why can,t these authors just finish one story first, instead of half writing  it, then leaving it and writing something else?  >:(

working on one thing at a time without skipping onto something else requires writing discipline, and working from something more than inspiration.  And that is rare to find in fandoms.  I just wrote an enormous tome on it for your edification. I have a LOT of opinions about the responsibilities of writers once they release an unfinished story into a fandom, so I figured I'd type up some notes!
Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: Monika on December 06, 2008, 04:31:10 am
I as a reader am greatful that people post their stories at all, and wouldnīt dream of thinking that they owe me anything or have any responsibilities whatsoever.
And if thereīs one sure way to kill a muse itīs to say to people that they have to write something.

Iīve seen plenty of examples where writers have completely destroyed a story simply because they wanted to write an ending, in spite of the fact that their heart wasnīt in it no more. I rather have a good unfinishes story than to have it destroyed by a bad ending anytime.

I am also a writer and have a few unfinished stories myself. I write as long as I find it enjoyable, thatīs the whole point of writing after all. And I think it would show in my stories if I forced myself to continue. I rather leave them as they are.

As I reader I donīt mind reading unfinished fics either - some of my favorite fan fics are unfinished and will probably not be updated. But Iīm so grateful to those authors that they took their time to create stories that have given me something and that have given my enjoyment.
Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on December 06, 2008, 02:38:28 pm
That is also true, Buffy - sometimes going on when the inspiration is lacking can be the death of an otherwise worthwhile and well made story, and that isn't any better than not finishing one!
Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: Marge_Innavera on December 06, 2008, 03:56:07 pm
working on one thing at a time without skipping onto something else requires writing discipline, and working from something more than inspiration.  And that is rare to find in fandoms.  I just wrote an enormous tome on it for your edification. I have a LOT of opinions about the responsibilities of writers once they release an unfinished story into a fandom, so I figured I'd type up some notes!

I understand that no one has an obligation to finish a story, that it's better to not finish one than to finish it badly; fill in the blanks with whatever you want.

The suggestion was just that there's a certain social contract between readers and writers and it doesn't take long to just write something up letting readers know how the story would end.  And if the writer has aspirations of doing it professionally, considering readers to not be worth even that much effort is a very bad way to start.  To paraphrase Orson Welles, have you ever heard of an unemployed readership?

In this case, I seem to remember reading posts by the author stating that she now found some aspects of HI "embarrassing", so it might be just as well she quit.
Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: Monika on December 06, 2008, 07:37:09 pm
And if the writer has aspirations of doing it professionally, considering readers to not be worth even that much effort is a very bad way to start. 
I hear what you are saying, and I understand that it is frustrating when writer donīt complete their stories. (after all, there are WIPs out there that Iīd paid money for to become finished! :))But please donīt believe that writers donīt think that "the readers are worth the effort". The reason I donīt write synopsis is because i wouldnīt like to read it myself. Another factor is that when it comes to my own stories, I donīt neccessarily know how they end myself. Thatīs usually someting that comes to me as I approach the ending of the story myself.
 All writers work differently. Some have the whole story finished in their heads before they even put pen to paper, but others write the story as they are writing it, one chapter at the time.


Anyone besides me that has actually written their own ending to someone elses unfinished story? ;D ;D
Everything is aloowed in war, love and fan fiction, right? ;)

Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: NavyVet on March 04, 2009, 10:22:05 pm
I think that the reason so many fics get abandoned is a few different reasons, really. .......... .  And they might have personal and social difficulties that make them want to bail out of the story or the fandom very suddenly - fandom is a volatile social environment.

Wow, I'm really glad to have stumbled across all those very good points you made, Louise.  I haven't visited Bettermost in ages, but I still read fics in the BbM fandom.  I used to get really bummed about getting caught up in WIPs, and then not being able to find out how they end when they are abandoned/unfinished.  As I can only follow so many stories at a time w/o getting them mixed up, I now try to save new ones on a 'to read' list and not start reading until they've been completed.
I understand how there can be so many factors as to why authors can't/don't finish their stories.  I find your comments encouraging really, because I have found myself in a similar situation.  I have written and posted over 232,000 words of a fanfic novel (different fandom, not BbM) that I have been unable to finish.  I haven't updated in over 2 years, though I have tried to force myself to work on it out of guilt for leaving readers hanging.  Real life issues aside, it seems my muse has completely left me.  The words won't come and even though it's fairly close to the end, I can't seem to 'wrap it up'.  I'm trying not to beat myself up about it.  Any advice?
I'm just an amateur writer, but I did finish 2 short stories at least.  Part of the problem might be that the fandom's popularity fell off in 2005, and I had very few readers and little feedback to begin with.  However, I know I won't feel right until I somehow give closure to my fic.  I had given thought to tying up the loose ends with an epilogue, but it sounds like most people wouldn't want that either.
Sorry for going on and on.  I should probably have posted this over at the general discussion thread, but I'm just gonna hit the post button here anyway.  :-)
Title: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on March 06, 2009, 01:49:49 pm
It's not like there's heavy traffic in this thread, don't worry about it NV.

Suggestions on finishing a story that you've lost inspiration on.

1) reread your story.  Re-familiarize yourself with it, taking note of the parts of the story that still seem "alive" to you, which you can picture and can work and build on - i.e. specific characters that seem more alive, elements of the plot.  One of the biggest problems authors have  with their story is losing the image of what they are creating.  So re-establishing that image, making it alive in your imagination once more,is crucial.  So re-read.  Get to know your story again and immerse yourself in it as you had been before you stopped writing it.

2) Outline where you expect the story to go from the point where you stopped.  Even if it's only bullet points, such as:

Johnny finds out his girlfriend has betrayed him with his best friend
He confronts him and they come to blows; Johnny leaves town.
The girlfriend kills herself, but Johnny doesn't find out.
He returns to town months later and finds out she's dead; he visits her family and tries to find out what happened.

3) Once you have the bullet points or brief outline, and pay attention to the points that seem too complicated or might be hard for you to write.  Chances are that you stopped the story due to something you might feel you wouldn't be able to handle, or a part of the plot that rang false.  If there are any bullet points that are going to trip you up - remove them, and change your ending to something you CAN write.  For example with the above - the last item, finding out she's dead and visiting the family, sounds too melodramatic.  So go back and make it that she kills herself and he gets a letter, thus eliminating the high melodrama of the last part of the story and makes it easier to finish.  You'll be surprised how easily something you've conceptualized (more or less arbitrarily, when you think about it) could be the very reason you stopped writing it.  I remember getting completely stuck on a book I was writing - for TWO WHOLE YEARS - because I had written myself into a battle scene and didn't know much about the weapons.  After chewing my lip over it for a very long time I finally wrote down, "battle scene - weapons."  And imagined what kind of weapons the combatants MIGHT have, put them into a google search, got pictures of the weapons I imagined, and then looked up some information on how combat worked with those types of weapons.  It was not historically valid, because the fact was, I had no historical information for that exact period.  But I could assume they had swords, spears and bows, and got pictures of weapons and the type of warfare to within 100 or 200 years of the period I was writing about, and finally bit the bullet.  And I simplified the battle to a surprise skirmish rather than a large army confrontation, with limited troops, so I could "handle" the actual writing of the battle scene.  And I was able to go on with the story and finish it.

4) And simplify.  I write without outlines, generally, but a lot of people do write outlines.  And the outlines, for large stories, anyway, are about five times the size of a "normal" novel.  Normal published novels at 60,000 to 80,000 words.  Fan fictions can go on a LOT longer than that.  But why do they have to?  Because you wrote an outline that went on for 80 years?  Simplfy it.  You don't have the boundless ambition you had when you started writing it, and your goal then was to start the story.  Your goal now is to finish it, so eliminate those embellishments and details and side-roads that keep you from finishing it.  Because your readers want CLOSURE, not embellishment.  They don't need to know what the ultimate outcome is for every character, where they moved to, who they married and when they died.  They just need to know the important things: did the guy get the girl.  Did the sick old man die or recover?  Did they lose the house in foreclosure or did the brother-in-law step in and make the payment?  As a reader, I do not like to be left hanging, but I also don't need to know everything in the universe.  Just what's important.

I really believe that the reason most fanfics remain unfinished is due to ambition outpacing the writing ability of the writer.  I remember reading a new fic by an author who had written a couple of other stories, and it was "hotly anticipated" because it was a new concept.  The problem was, the "new concept" was something that clearly the writer knew next to nothing about, involving accidental crashes, injuries and field treatment of wounds.  And it was obvious: pretty soon the character with the broken hand was carrying things and having sex and doing all sorts of things that a person with a broken hand clearly could not do, and the writer had trapped herself into a story with too many limiting factors and characters who were getting hot about each other when they should be close to death and unable to even think about sex not to mention doing it.  I wasn't surprised when the story was discontinued a couple of chapters later.  So scale down that original outsized ambition, and chances are you'll be able to finish at least some version of the story.
Title: Re: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on March 06, 2009, 02:53:44 pm
On second thought, I had lost track of the fact that we were in the "Two Crows Joy" thread, so I broke this part of the discussion off starting with my long message.
Title: Re: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: NavyVet on March 14, 2009, 12:39:26 pm


Suggestions on finishing a story that you've lost inspiration on.



Thank you so much for your advice, Louise!  I am going to take every single one of your suggestions to heart.  I even printed out the entire post.
You, and your awesome writing talent, inspire me.  I will let you know how things go.   :-*
Hugs,
NV
Title: Re: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on March 20, 2009, 02:23:49 pm
I have had many instances of losing the inspiration on a story, so hopefully my tips can help you get back on track!  Let me know, would you?

By the way, are you still reading the Greenlea Tales?
Title: Re: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: NavyVet on May 19, 2009, 02:37:45 pm
An update on me:

Hello, everyone!  Hello, Louise!

Overall, I'm doing pretty well.    :)   Still trying to keep up with numerous fanfics in numerous fandoms, though lost track of various message boards and forums that I enjoyed.  Busy with other things, but still addicted to reading and TV.  I love my new laptop - a Qosmio F50.  Going to Washington, DC next week and looking forward to it.  Last year, I was switched to a different medication, which works much better.  I feel better and so far I've lost 21 pounds since January!

Louise, I took your advice and it really helped.  I went back and re-read a lot of my work (not all 232,000+ words!) but a lot.  Then I did a bullet outline, listing points and events that still needed to be covered and the order they needed to happen in.  Anyway, I  wrote and sent another 3,300 word installment to my faithful Beta, and it was posted.  I am seeing the end in sight and hope to wrap everything up soon.
Unfortunately, I think that particular fandom is pretty much dead or maybe just too much time has gone by between postings.  I have no idea if anyone is reading my story as I've not received one comment, review, e-mail, etc.

I believe the only thing worse than getting negative feedback is:  Getting no feedback at all.  Can anyone here imagine that?  Somehow I doubt that's ever been a problem for BbM fic authors.  Fans either love it or hate it and seem to be very vocal about it.   :laugh: 
Wonder what it feels like to write something that people actually get excited about?
Anyway, I'm trying very hard to not take it personally.  It's a bit discouraging, though.  I'm determined to finish what I started way back when, if just to say I finished it.

Louise, I'm afraid I lost track of your saga.  *hangs head in embarrassment*  I think I had left off at Chesterfield Fortune?  IIRC, that was around the time of the 'transition' and I simply couldn't stop picturing the original (you-know-who) and get used to the new names.
*sheepish grin*

Hugs,
NV
Title: Re: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: louisev on May 19, 2009, 03:42:36 pm
I'm glad my suggestions helped.  And believe me, I know what it's like to not get feedback.  That's my life up to and including my fourth completed novel.  I couldn't get a single friend of mine to read my manuscripts.  I don't know whether it was because I was too whiny about it, or because my friends weren't readers, or didn't like fiction or what, because the reasons were different for each person.  Wait - there was a single exception - my friend Mary, who is a voracious reader and read and liked what she wrote because she likes historical fiction.  That was all I wrote then, historical novels with a military component. 

I never got comments outside of my one friend until I tried my hand at Brokeback fanfic back in April of 2006... and man, that was a whole different experience!!!

And about the "transition" to the new character names... you weren't the only one, I lost about half of my readers, or maybe a little more.  But not all of them.  In fact, while I was a bit dejected that I lost readers through no fault of my own - I had to either scrap the stories or rewrite them - I was also overjoyed that so many people went back and reread with the new names and the extensive copyedits I did on the first two books and were very pleased.  So it was a mixed blessing.
Title: Re: Unfinished Fics Discussion
Post by: Marge_Innavera on May 19, 2009, 10:15:58 pm
I have had many instances of losing the inspiration on a story, so hopefully my tips can help you get back on track!  Let me know, would you?


One of the things that my venture into fiction writing has taught me is that the inspiration can come and go. There are times when it just seems to have to lie fallow for a time, with things presumably happening underneath.