One writerly question, one answer, one minute to read!
Here we go… My story just isn’t working! Should I shelve it?
I don’t know of any writer who hasn’t struggled with a story (or every story in one way or another!), but sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make a story work.
Shelving a manuscript is a difficult decision. After all, you’ve put in a ton of work on it and it’s a lot to give up. Before you make a final decision it’s worth taking some time away to think.
If the thought of shelving the manuscript makes you reach out to grab it like someone’s trying to steal your wallet then, most likely, the answer is that you should keep working on it. In that case, take some time and figure out what’s not working and how you can tackle things step by step.
If, however, you’re quite happy to have it off your hands and are pretty much shouting ‘take it away!’ then shelving it might be your best bet.
In my very early writing days, before I realised I was a plotter, I just wrote and wrote and got to the end of a really awful first draft. I tried to edit it a few times but it had more holes than a sieve and the thought of trying to unpick it made me so despondent, I decided I’d rather just start on something new. Ultimately, I didn’t believe in the story enough to keep going, and shelved it.
The take away? Everyone and every story is different and only you can make the decision, but you can always come back to it another day!