I'm at a crossroads to figure out the better plan of action. I've heard you should always try to finish the rough draft, but...are there exceptions? I'm wondering if any readers here ran into this, especially in the early phases of writing, and how you dealt with this situation?
My particular situation was I wrote stuff, but kept it to myself, so I never really built upon my skills. I just stayed as a novice, writing novice level stuff for a number of years without growing.
Continue writing the rough draft that I started.
Pros: I have the ideas flowing in my head. I enjoy the characters, know them and their backstories. I really enjoy the process and what I can do to revise. I gain a lot of enjoyment writing the story and dealing with the characters. For me this is a huge pro to finishing the story.
Cons: The first reader (my friend) pointed out some key weaknesses that extend beyond what can be fixed in a 2nd draft. I'm striving to write something beyond my current writing skill level. (novice) I'm trying to convey lots of deep and complex character emotions, unsaid statements, dialogue that may on the surface be one thing, but the character means something else, which can't be handled in simple dialogue or descriptions, or handled with my novice skills. Conveying non verbal and internal thought process in non pov characters is a sticking point, that's foiling my story. The story itself essentially is a "very rough sketch" of what I am trying. If I go to finish it I'm writing more of the same vs learning something new. Because I have the plot sorted out, I'm also too easily tempted to over foreshadow sections.
Lacking experience, poorly conveying emotion, and also being tempted to over do the foreshadowing are bad cons. Especially the depicting emotions part. Essentially I'm doing the same thing that I've done before that hasn't been working. To be just good enough for my own mind won't cut it if I want to publish something out of it later.
Stop. Leave the rough draft unfinished. Try a new story, new characters, and a new world for a couple weeks or longer.
Suggested by the same friend: Don't finish the story right now. Stop working on it. Leave it as it is. Stop working on the characters or the series. Write something else for a few weeks and then come back to story 1 and rewrite from the problem area to the end. (essentially redraft the story from about page 8- where I left off and finish.)
Pros: Get my mind off trying to excuse poorly written sections by saying they are needed for whatever plot reason. I'm also not looking at something I've drafted before, or even imagined/ brainstormed/daydreamed before. The characters would be new, so I have nothing to go back to or reference from. Also find out where my writing skills really are. See if I can become a better writer vs. a better rewriter.
Cons: Feels more like work than play. Exercising, vs fun. My head is swimming with scenes I'd like to write from the characters and the world of Option 1. I want to get those ideas down.
Finish the rough draft. Write what comes to my head as its own story/scene. Write something new if I get stuck/ have no other ideas.
Something I thought of which combines the ideas of 1 and 2. Finish the draft, knowing it is a pre rough draft, A sketch of a rough draft. Instead of 2nd drafting or editing right away, try Option 2, but if a scene or idea involving characters from option 1 catches my fancy, write or draw that out as an isolated scene. (doesn't have to be included in story 1 or any of the ideas planned for the series. The idea is to just be an exercise writing to get the ideas in my head down and work on conveying emotion.
Pros: I feel like doing fun writing with my characters I can. I'm not detached from the world of option 1. I can still try option 2, but it doesn't feel as forced. I can also add in the idea of physically sketching scenes that give me issue. (Sketching a character is often how I come up with a character description.)
Cons: I still may lean towards the problems of option 1, where I'm learning to be better at editing and rewriting vs, make a great story, or simply a story that doesn't stink.