I've been reading through The Last of the Trunk, the Robert E. Howard book I mentioned couple of posts ago. While the book contains several completed stories, I decided to read the fragments first. Some are a short as two paragraphs, while a few are three to five pages long. The interesting thing is that in pretty much every case I think I can see why Howard didn't finish the story.
One of the odd things about writing is that it tends to be mercurial and inconsistent. There are days you can do no wrong and there are days you can't write your way out of the proverbial paper bag. Usually I can tell when I'm not writing up to my ability. Sometimes you can do a rewrite and fix it, but a lot of the time you just have something that needs to be put away. I get that familiar feeling when reading through these fragments. The tone is just wrong somehow. The stories seem forced or somehow false as if Howard didn't really 'feel' the story but was just pushing on anyway. Some of them have too much exposition too early. Some of them have dialogue that is unconvincing. Some are just...weak. Hard to explain but there you go. Anyway, I'm finding it fascinating to see some Howard's stories that just didn't work for him.