I've been working on plots and different characters for a few months now and I haven't really written anything that might be salvageable down the line. I really like the idea, but I feel as though it may be in inspired by too many different stories and it may fall under plagiarism, despite it being my own ideas.

I'm still attempting to find a way to turn this around or add some sort of spin to the story to create tension, but I don't know if I should keep going with the idea or just stop and create a new one all over again.

  • 2
    I don't think we can answer this without making huge assumptions about the media you consume and your psychological state. If it is like so many other plots it might be plagiarism… then those other plots are probably all plagiarism too. It's ok to let the dough rise a little longer. A "twist" might come when you leave it alone for a while.
    – wetcircuit
    Sep 28, 2018 at 3:55

3 Answers 3


I would say err on the side of finishing, because it's all too easy to always find a reason to give up somewhere along the way. If you need to, think of this solely as a learning project, one you might never show to anyone, but that you're going to complete, if only so you can have the experience of seeing a writing project all the way through.

Once you've made it as good as you can, you can re-evaluate if you want to try to place it somewhere, or just bottom-drawer it. But keep in mind that many wonderful pieces of writing passed through an ugly-duckling phase --and also that writers are often poor judges of their own work.

To be honest, if you read enough from prolific authors, you realize they don't bury their mistakes, they publish them. For instance, prior to writing his masterpiece, Lolita, Nabakov wrote a much inferior book (in Russian, translated variously as Camera Obscura and Laughter in the Dark) with some of the same themes. It's probably most charitably read as a rough draft for the later work. But it was reasonably successful, translated twice, and even made into a movie.


I would say that if you're rewriting your idea for the third time (that is, there are now four drafts, all rough- three you've given up on, one you're currently writing), that you're probably polishing a turd. However, ideas are usually perfectly fine. It's not the idea that's a problem in most cases of bad writing.

It's the execution. After all, every idea under the sun has been done before, it's how one executes it that's the issue. In that case... polishing a turd comes from, not a bad/unsalvageable idea, but an unsalvageable project that needs work in one of three areas before it should be reattempted:

  • Plotting
  • Characterisation
  • The writer themselves

Ideas should be scrapped when you have given up on writing for good.

Until then, keep unused ideas some place where you can find them again when you need them.

It may be that the heat death of the universe will still find this material in its unused state, but at this point you really have nothing to lose.

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