Should I Quit My Novel and Start a New Project?

You just found out a major plot point doesn’t make sense. Maybe the second act has stalled. And your antagonist somehow needs to leave Tahiti for The Gobi Desert.

Do you try to make it work or is it time to move on to another project?

Starting a novel is like getting married.Untitled design-5

That guy or gal is all rainbows and bacon at first. But somewhere along the line life goes askew. He leaves his toenail clippings on the coffee table, she nags about fixing the dishwasher, his mother comments on the cleanliness of the house, her father gets drunk every Christmas and defecates on your manicured lawn.

Suddenly Gertrude in accounting and Hans the Zumba instructor are the new rainbows and bacon.

Why?

Because you don’t know the problems yet. Gertrude will sell your dog while you are out with your friends and Hans will wear Speedos at your daughter’s pool party.

Just like a relationship, that new story idea seems so much better than your current novel.

That new story doesn’t have any difficulties. Yet.

The plot holes haven’t emerged. But they will.

The characters and the plot work in harmony. But not for long.

I encourage you to work through your current novel’s problems. Finish it before starting a new one.

And don’t cheat on your spouse.

One Essential Practice for Writing Good Dialogue

One SkillLet’s play a game.

Read the following real conversation and guess where it took place.

Female: Ow, that hurt. You hit me in the muscle.

Male: Well, you always pinch me.

Female: I haven’t touched you today.

Male: Yes, you did. You pinched me this morning.

Female: You lie!

Did this happen on a playground? Or maybe in an elementary school?

You’d be wrong. I heard this conversation in the workplace.

No, it wasn’t “Take Your Brat to Work” Day. Yes, these were my coworkers. Yes, I know this would cause anyone who works in HR to poop bricks.

Real life dialogue isn’t boring. Your fake dialogue shouldn’t be either.

But how do you know when your dialogue has gone from wildly interesting to totally unrealistic?

You need to listen to people’s conversations. Write down what you hear.

I own two books about writing dialogue. Both are great. Both have bad reviews on Amazon. My suspicion is many of those bad reviews are the result of the readers not being willing to do the exercises suggested. The reviewers probably wanted simple plug and play advice, but learning to write good dialogue requires work.

And guess what? Both books suggest listening to people and then writing down snippets of the conversations.

It’s essential. And it gives you an excuse to eavesdrop.