Our halloween contest is now open for reading and voting. Read and Vote [ X Dismiss ]
Home « Forum « Story Discussion and Feedback

Forum: Story Discussion and Feedback

Cmsix type authors!

4041
Updated:

Why do authors that are inspired to say "Loosely inspired by cmsix" pull the same stunt cmsix did and not finish what they started? Does anyone know for sure the status of cmsix?

Update on 2/10/2018
Still 37 out of 59 stories unfinished thats 66% ! His stories are good and I enjoy them, He just needed to find a good stopping place and not leave a Saturday Matinee Cliffhanger !

Ernest Bywater

cmsix is in seriously declining health. He's still in the nursing home in Texas he mentioned in his blog sometime back. Last verified sighting is about a year ago. At that time he said he is unable to think straight long enough to do any more writing, and refused to let anyone else to finish any of his stories. As of two months ago he was still alive.

As to the people crediting cmsix, it's because his stories are the first or only ones of that sub-genre they've seen, so they think he created it. BTW he didn't, he's just the most prolific, so far.

Why others have trouble finishing those types of stories, I don't know. I suspect they, like Ches, got carried away and wrote themselves into a corner before they realised it. That's an issue you have to watch out for if you post as you write - which is why I recommend finish then post.

Replies:   odave44
aubie56

@4041

I was inspired by cmsix and proud of it! As of this point, though, I have posted over 200 stories and finished every one. Of course, I have about that many that are not finished and probably never will be. That's why they have not been posted.

Capt. Zapp

@4041

"Loosely inspired by cmsix"


This looks like it could be from my blurb for The Loser. It hasn't gotten a yellow stripe yet, and I hope to not allow that to happen. My problem was that I was posting as I wrote and things started going off in all directions with no end in sight. I've done my best to rein that in but my characters keep wandering and my muse seems to get distracted and refuses to cooperate.

I'll see if I can get the words flowing again.

medic975

I think they just write themselves into a corner. My own take on those type of stories are that they're a great idea that's poorly implemented. I love the far past setting, but lose interest when every modern comfort is introduced. It drives all the tension out of a story.

docholladay
Updated:

@4041

I think the reason so many fail to finish the stories is the same basic reason so many of his have the unfinished flags. Namely without a definite planned stopping point its easy to keep adding new parts/chapters. I know I have advised at least one or more writers to just pick a natural break point. Change from one season to the next is a good break point. Nice part is the end of one story becomes the starting point for the next one in a series.

I think some genres or story themes have traps which can catch even the best of writers.

edited to add: I seriously believe that all genres and/or themes have their own particular traps. The ability to post stories as they are written on the internet adds potential traps as well because of the medium. One the ability to reopen a previously finished story and start adding new material or chapters, this trap is one that cmsix fell into on many stories. But its not limited to the stories in the genres he wrote in. There are others although at this point I can't think of what they are.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
KinkyWinks

I think he just rode old Red until the poor horse dropped.

Crumbly Writer

Even if you discount the entire 'write it first, clean it up and then post it' ethos, you should at least always write to the conclusion, meaning you should always have the story conclusion in mind, and always write to that end, so your various story threads don't take on a life of their own.

If every thread must ultimately end in the same location, they tend to naturally curtail themselves. If you have no particular destination in mind, you never end up where you intended, unless 'nowhere' was your original destination.

BlacKnight

The endless serial is a perfectly valid story form, and one which is well-suited to Internet publication.

paliden

@BlacKnight

The endless serial is a perfectly valid story form, and one which is well-suited to Internet publication.


On television they are called soap opera's.

Replies:   aubie56
aubie56

@paliden

Who cares what it's called. If it is a good story that people enjoy, it deserves to be written and posted.

Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

The endless serial is a perfectly valid story form, and one which is well-suited to Internet publication.

I'm not saying it isn't. But there are successful continuing serial, and then there are those that run aground. The key, is often having an end-point, even if it takes a LONG time to reach. Take "Robin", from some years back. Even though it continued for years, the author always had an idea of how the story was supposed to end. In fact, many of his strangest threads were attempts to resolve loose ends, again long before the story ended, and as such, they were resolved relatively quickly because they moved the story forward, resolved issues, and then returned to the story, continuing it along.

Whether you write short stories, novelettes, sagas or serials, there's a right way to construct stories, and then there are traps writers fall into where they can't figure out how to get out of, often quitting midstream as a result.

Replies:   richardshagrin
StarFleet Carl

@docholladay

Namely without a definite planned stopping point its easy to keep adding new parts/chapters.


I ran into that with my own story on here. I actually had originally intended to stop the thing about Chapter 67 and just couldn't do it. I finally pulled the plug after Chapter 74. I was also in the posting as I'm writing group, and if one thing that taught me over the year was to not do that again. Write it first, THEN post it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:


Write it first, THEN post it.


Is what I do and heavily promote.

The reason for this is it allows you to correct early issues from late changes in the story.

I also promote planning the basic story line, key story way-points, and the end point out at the start.

Having said all that, I've had to break stories midway through for various reasons. In one case a belatedly realised the pacing of the second half was going to be significantly different to the first half, so I picked a suitable break point and made it into two novels instead of a single sags. In the other changing world politics seriously disrupted the second half of the story, so I chose a suitable break point and left it there to await a settling of the world political issues before revising the story line for the second half of the story.

The other thing to keep in mind is you do not have to stick tightly to the laid out story line, you can introduce sub-plots along the way. One work in progress was planned as 50,000 word novel is about a third of the way along the story line and already at 54,000 words due to additional sub-plots I've added to the story while working on it, and thus enhanced the story by doing so.

Once the story is finished my editors and myself will polish it up, clean up any holes, and have a better story to post than if I posted while writing.

edit to add; I think the time taken to have the story edited and polished as a whole adds between .5 to 1.0 onto the score by making it an easier story to read.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

there's a right way to construct stories

But there is not ONE right way.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin


@Crumbly Writer
there's a right way to construct stories
But there is not ONE right way.


Trues, but there's ten thousand wrong ways to construct a story for every right way to construct a story well.

docholladay

Then again it seems some of the most discussed problems with story planning. And ways to avoid the problems. I wonder how many unfinished stories never even enter that kind of a discussion.

robberhands
Updated:

@docholladay

I wonder how many unfinished stories never even enter that kind of a discussion.

I don't mind reading an unfinished story, at least not all too much. Comparing the completed stories I abandoned mid-way through to the number of unfinished stories I enjoyed reading until the bitter end, I don't think it's important to me if a story is completed or not.

Edited to juggle some words.

docholladay

@robberhands

When I read a story whether its finished or unfinished. All I am looking for is a good story. Of course the definition of a good story will vary a great deal between readers. Writers are also readers as well. How we will judge any given story will also vary from one reader to the next I think. Of course I might be wrong on that judgement variation as well.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
Crumbly Writer

@StarFleet Carl

I ran into that with my own story on here. I actually had originally intended to stop the thing about Chapter 67 and just couldn't do it. I finally pulled the plug after Chapter 74. I was also in the posting as I'm writing group, and if one thing that taught me over the year was to not do that again. Write it first, THEN post it.

The other key to limiting the scope of a story is that it's more tightly focused. Even if you continue the story in a sequel, it allows you to focus on a central theme that's different for each story, rather than a story's 'meaning' drifting over time, so it ends up becoming a convoluted mess. But most importantly, it allows an author to 'prune' out any scenes or subplots that don't really add to the story, or which ultimately don't work out well. That's probably the biggest factor in limiting the size of a work. This is especially true for the 'day-in-a-life' stories, where much of the story details the minutia of daily life, rather than moving the plot forwards.

All that said, it's been demonstrated, time and again, that longer stories score higher than shorter stories.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

But there is not ONE right way.

Agreed. And whatever succeeds is to be applauded. However, if something fails, expect readers to dump on your choices unrelentingly. :(

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Then again it seems some of the most discussed problems with story planning. And ways to avoid the problems. I wonder how many unfinished stories never even enter that kind of a discussion.

One thing that I've observed, is that many 100+ chapter serials are written by new authors, who are trying to recapture the stories they've been following for a long time. But the burn-out rate among those authors is high, and many never write anything else, not even counting those that just drift off and die, never being completed.

Generally (and I'm sure DS will jump all over me for this assertion), most teachers, writers and other sources all recommend starting small.

I kind of took a middle ground. I'd long been a fan of the extended series, but my first story was chopped up into more reasonable pieces. It ended up as 6 books and over 1,000,000+ million words. Still, breaking it up allowed me to strengthen each book individually, rather than producing a single, weaker continuous story.

I thing I would like to see, and haven't, is for those authors of those epic serials, once they finish, to go back and edit them, cutting out the fat and the unproductive, clean it up, add foreshadowing elements and produce a more focused, professional finished work. It would be interesting to see how much the overall story would improve in that case.

Note: In the case of my first story, I also ran into a number of plot holes, and had to rewrite the entire story a number of times. Each time I did, I ended up coming up with a MUCH stronger and coherent story, rather than simply continuing on from where I was.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

I don't mind reading an unfinished story, at least not all too much. Comparing the completed stories I abandoned mid-way through to the number of unfinished stories I enjoyed reading until the bitter end, I don't think it's important to me if a story is completed or not.

I definitely agree with that. Some of my favorite stories are yellow-tagged abandoned stories the author never figured out how to complete. You can't condemn an author for a single (or even a few) incomplete stories. However, when nearly EVERY story they write in incomplete, then they've got a significant problem with finishing tasks.

docholladay

cmsix actually fell victim to at least 2 different traps. He fell victim to adding to stories he had previously tagged as finished, by when he came up with new material or whatever you call it. He would edit the last chapter then start adding the new materials in new chapters to the end of the story instead of writing a sequel, big mistake.
The other trap was fighting his muse or whatever you want to call it with the story: "I Feel Lucky". He insisted on forcing the story to merge completely with the "Nanovirus" story. Instead the characters in the "I Feel Lucky" story were actively attacking that underground network of the Preacher who wanted to take over the world. Same organization whose resources were taken over by the main character in the "Nanovirus" story. (both versions)

His muse refused to allow the merger to occur. I believe it was his muse trying to save the primary dimension time line. Looking at almost all of his work it was based on both time travel and multi-dimensions. With just about all the stories MC's originating in Texas. I admit I am not an educated reviewer, but the "Nanovirus" story line actually destroyed that dimension's time line.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Vlad_Inhaler
Updated:

@BlacKnight

The endless serial is a perfectly valid story form, and one which is well-suited to Internet publication.

In particular that story, the first chapter went up 13 Nov 2006 and - 16MB / 464 chapters later - it is still going strong at a chapter a week. Almost 4.5 million downloads.

odave44

@Ernest Bywater

I cannot agree with Ernest strongly enough. Finish your story before you post, especially if its going to be a long one. Most good authors find in that process they are likely to go back and change things as they progress and see where the characters are going. You cannot do that if you post as you go, and it makes backtracking almost impossible. I do occasionally see someone say they have gone back and change things in chapter __. I've already read it and I never bother to go back.

JohnBobMead

@docholladay

When I read a story whether its finished or unfinished. All I am looking for is a good story. Of course the definition of a good story will vary a great deal between readers. Writers are also readers as well. How we will judge any given story will also vary from one reader to the next I think. Of course I might be wrong on that judgement variation as well.


These days I'm less likely to start a story with the dreaded Yellow Stripe of Shame than I used to be, if I haven't read it before.

That said, I'll keep rereading Don Lockwood's Rewind periodically until the cows come home; it may be unfinished, but for an unfinished story it stopped at a good breaking point, and it's one of my favorite stories.

There's another unfinished story where I wish the author had stopped earlier; sam177's Getting Away, which she says was inspired by cmsix. She may have thought that it was inspired by his stories, but for the first 37 chapters you wouldn't have known it; the last three chapters are the typical dumped back in time type story, but before that was one of the neatest explorations of grieving and recovery and personal discovery and growth that I've come across; then she had to make all of that as if it were nothing by dumping her back in time with her camper, which ruined it for me, and I think ruined it for her, as that's when she stopped posting it. Her The Strange Adventures of Cinnamon is also incomplete, and very good; and in this case I wish it had kept going. She has some completed stories, but I didn't enjoy them as much; they weren't as much to my taste, they aren't the stories of her's that I've downloaded.

docholladay

@JohnBobMead

These days I'm less likely to start a story with the dreaded Yellow Stripe of Shame than I used to be, if I haven't read it before.


Agreed, its why I tend to wait now until a story finishes being posted before reading it. But then again if it sounds interesting enough to me. I will take a chance on it. But some of my favorites that I go back to over and over again include a few unfinished stories by different writers. I always hope they will finally finish them, but like in cmsix's case they probably will never be finished considering his health factors.

samuelmichaels
Updated:

@JohnBobMead


That said, I'll keep rereading Don Lockwood's Rewind periodically until the cows come home; it may be unfinished, but for an unfinished story it stopped at a good breaking point, and it's one of my favorite stories.


He could have stopped it at high school graduation, or a couple of Olivias earlier.

Still, a great story, incomplete or not.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

cmsix actually fell victim to at least 2 different traps. He fell victim to adding to stories he had previously tagged as finished, by when he came up with new material or whatever you call it. He would edit the last chapter then start adding the new materials in new chapters to the end of the story instead of writing a sequel, big mistake.
The other trap was fighting his muse or whatever you want to call it with the story: "I Feel Lucky". He insisted on forcing the story to merge completely with the "Nanovirus" story. Instead the characters in the "I Feel Lucky" story were actively attacking that underground network of the Preacher who wanted to take over the world. Same organization whose resources were taken over by the main character in the "Nanovirus" story. (both versions)

Sadly, those were the third and fourth traps that Cmsix fell into. The first two were returning to failed stories, instead of abandoning them, and trying the exact same approach each time he tried rewriting the same failed story.

If you fail at a story, you either abandon it forever (as a story you just weren't meant to write) or if your muse offers a new approach, you write an entirely different story. But you don't improve by failure by repeating what failed in the first place.

Even so, I've always said that ever SOL author should be familiar with his work. If nothing else, his stories are a cautionary tale to plan out your stories before diving in. You don't have to write the entire story upfront, but at least have some clue how your story is going to conclude.

Still, he stories remain eminently readable.

Replies:   robberhands  docholladay
robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

...failed stories...

What is a 'failed story'?

richardshagrin

@robberhands

failed story


One that got an F. Or a rating of 4 and below. 5 is a D, 6 is a C, 7 is a B, 8 is an A, 9 is an A plus, 10 is very rare.

Replies:   robberhands
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

Sadly, those were the third and fourth traps that Cmsix fell into. The first two were returning to failed stories, instead of abandoning them, and trying the exact same approach each time he tried rewriting the same failed story.


I only noticed two of them off hand. I even debated the mistaken path he wanted to take "I Feel Lucky" by forcing the merger. Had to be a bit careful since anyone who interacted with him could definitely tell how stubborn he was. But even careful debates and such were lots of fun. Nice part was even though we disagreed I think we both enjoyed those debates.

robberhands

@richardshagrin

One that got an F. Or a rating of 4 and below. 5 is a D, 6 is a C, 7 is a B, 8 is an A, 9 is an A plus, 10 is very rare.

The thing is, story scores represent an average of the readers' votes. Can a story be labeled a failure as long as some people enjoyed reading it, even if a larger group of people disliked the story?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I have a couple of stories rated between 4 and 5. Both have elicited approving feedback from readers and 10 scores. I wouldn't call them failures, but I accept that they have very limited appeal to the average reader.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

I accept that they have very limited appeal to the average reader.

Since there isn't much else you can do, to accept it and move on seems to be the only healthy reaction.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I wasn't complaining about the scores - they reflect the fact that the stories don't have mass appeal. But I resent implications that they're 'failures' or 'must be badly written', as often crops up on the forum.

AJ

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

But I resent implications that they're 'failures' ...

You and me both.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

What is a 'failed story'?

In this instance, a 'failed story' is any story which doesn't work out the way the author envisioned. However that has no effect on how much readers appreciate it. It's just that it didn't live up to what the author was hoping to achieve with it.

My argument is, if you CAN'T complete a story successfully, then WHY rewrite it using the exact same approach, instead of trying a different approach? It seems like a strategy destined to fail (i.e. not succeed, i.e. result in yet another incomplete story).

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I wasn't complaining about the scores - they reflect the fact that the stories don't have mass appeal. But I resent implications that they're 'failures' or 'must be badly written', as often crops up on the forum.

Again, my use of the term 'failure' didn't reflect scores, downloads or reader enjoyment, simply that the stories NEVER worked out and he couldn't figure out how the hell to successfully end them, usually abandoning and starting again, only to repeat the same mistakes, again and again. I see THAT tendency, to repeat the same unsuccessful strategy, as the failures, NOT the stories themselves, which should be scored on their own merit.

Back to Top