I’ve heard from a couple of people in this situation, so in order to shed some light on the subject in a more public way, here is the deal:
Last year (almost exactly), I wrote 10,000 words on a science fiction story. Then, all hell broke loose (again) and I had to set it aside. By the time I came back to it, things had stopped making sense. I couldn’t get into the story anymore. I had lost my train of thought. Other projects attracted my attention, so I worked on those.
Now, it’s time to get back to this story and finish it. Why throw out 10k words of a story that HAD a great idea to it, but that got lost somewhere along the way? I read the story over, then I went over it and made some edits. I still had no luck. The thing was a mess. The whole first half had important information in it, but didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I started to feel extremely stuck.
Of course, I’m not the type to give up easily. There was a good story in there, I knew it. I should probably mention that this story was written completely by the seat of my pants. Not something I will be doing again! So how do I mine through 10k words, and get back on track?
I started by looking at my original idea again. Why did I want to write this story? What made this project so exciting to begin with? I found the pivotal scene–the first scene that came to me, the scene that was a huge turning point in the story, and said, “This is it. THIS is what I want people to think of when they think of this story.” Then, I worked from there, and said, “Which scenes in this story are necessary to make this scene happen?”
That’s the point I’m at right now. From here, I will cut the scenes that do not lead to the pivotal moment, making sure that every scene has its purpose and moves the story forward. Then, hopefully, I will be able to tell the story I’ve been wanting to.
I’m not going to make micro-goals for this week. I simply want to finish with a draft of this story by the night of the 20th. Then I will feel like I have earned my vacation!