To All Inexperienced Writers
This is not an attack on or criticism of inexperienced writers. It's merely a gentle reminder that giving up on your current story won't make you a better writer or make you more popular. Your story isn't completely unsalvagable and you'll learn far more about your abilities as a writer if you stick with your story to the very end than if you give up on it before you're even halfway through.
I've noticed that, a lot of the time, when an inexperienced writer gets a long, rather detailed review from a reader explaining what is wrong with their story, the inexperienced writer doesn't say a thing about the review, but a few weeks later you see they've posted a completely new epic, with no word about what happened to their old story, although it is usually obvious that the old story is dead.
The logic behind this decision seems to be something like, "Well, this reader made it pretty clear that my story is a piece of trash. So I will start a new story, except without any of the problems the original story had."
Problem is, more often than not, the new story has the exact same problems as the old story, if not maybe a little worse. The logic doesn't make any sense, anyway. How will starting a new story magically fix all of the old story's problems? Only if the old story's problems are inherent to the old story itself does that logic work, but as most stories can suffer from the same problems, writing a new story isn't the answer.
Again, I am not attacking inexperienced writers. I understand the sense of shame and anger you experience when a reviewer points out so many problems with your old story that you didn't see, no matter how many times you looked over the story before posting it. And I completely understand the first impulse of "Well, this story has to go to the trash can" because I very nearly gave up writing my first epic, The Tales of Shika Nui, years ago out of the belief that it was not worth writing (although that had more to do with the lack of reviews than a long, scathing review, but I digress).
Stick with your current story, unles it is completely, truly irredeemable or you truly do not like writing it anymore. I'm not saying you should never work on that new idea you have bouncing around in your head right now. It's just that you have a story right now - a story, moreover, that has the potential to be good - that desperately wants you to finish it, no matter how ugly it might look right now.
Yes, getting long, detailed reviews explaining exactly what you did wrong can be pretty hard to take. Even I sometimes have problems with critical reviews of my work and I have been writing and posting stuff on BZP almost since the day I joined.
But check that review again. Did the reviewer state that you must give up your story? No? He merely pointed out that the characterization is weak and that your spelling and grammar could stand for some improvement?
Okay. Then keep writing your story, but keep his criticisms in mind if you believe they are accurate. If you're really angry, say to the reviewer, "Thank you " (the smiley is not optional). Or wait a day before responding, once your emotions have cooled down and you can think clearly again.
Repeat: Keep writing your story. No matter how scathing or detailed the review is, if the reviewer encourages you to keep writing or at least says nothing about giving up, then keep writing. Even if he does tell you that you should give up, you probably should keep writing unless you have absolutely no more interest in the story yourself.
I know how tempting it is to give up on a story, especially when you hit writer's block or you get the detailed review I have been talking about. I have yet to write a story where I didn't hit a wall, where I didn't think "Why am I writing this?", where I didn't want to give up and do something else.
Except under rare, unusual circumstances, don't listen to those thoughts. No matter how persuasive they might sound, tell them to shut the heck up and then get back to writing.
Starting a new story will not somehow make you a better writer. In fact, I will admit that I am wary of writers who have a large collection of unfinished works. It tells me that they are probably not good writers for the sole reason that they have never finished even one story (talking about epics and chaptered comedies here, not short stories). Their library of incomplete stories tells me that there is no reason to follow this writer, for he will never finish anything. They will never improve because they are afraid of failure. What incomplete works they have are generally of low quality and never get the chance to shine because the writer gave up.
This is not to say that taking breaks from your story is bad. Sometimes, you need to take a day or two away from your work or even work on something else for a while to help you understand the story better. Thing is, though, you aren't giving up. You're taking a break or working on another story to give you perspective. It's up to you to decide when to return to the story and finish it, but I recommend to get back to it as soon as possible so you don't forget about it.
Nor is this a slam against stories that have no ending. I wil admit, however, that I generally don't follow stories that never end because they usually get bland, repetitive, or too convoluted to follow after a while. I might drop in every now and then to see what's going on, but don't expect me to be a devoted reader of such a neverending story.
Once you finish your current story, feel free to start your new one right away. It might actually be better than the last story now, since you have finished at least one story and so have an idea of what you are capable of. It doesn't mean you're perfect. It means that, if you can keep this up, you have the potential to become a great writer someday.
I think I've gone on a bit of a tangent here, so let me reiterate my main points:
-No matter how many problems the reviewer points out in his review, do not give up. Take what you can from the review and apply it to whatever your current writing ability is
-Do not start a new story with the illogical thought process that it will somehow magically be "better" than your old story. Chances are it will have the same problems as the old story or, in all likelihood, be even worse
-Taking breaks is fine, but get back to your story as soon as possible
-Your current story may not be a very good story, but neither you nor your readers will ever know for sure unless you finish it
This is a problem I've seen on BZP far too often. It just saddens me that so many writers with bright imaginations and a sincere desire to write give up because of one negative review. That's all.