There's nothing worse than having an awesome story in your head, and then watching it disintegrate on paper. Painful! So painful in fact, that I've got a collection of half-finished stories snoozing on my laptop.
The key is to not give up on the story, but instead to rewrite it like mad. That's according to novelist Dan Pope, whose workshop I attended last night. He should know: he wrote his entire book in three months, and then spent the next two years revising it. He helped a woman turn a book filled with language like "He go out, he not come back" into an eloquent, publishable book.
This was a woman who spoke English as a second language, who had a limited vocabulary and minimal knowledge about grammar and sentence structure. If revision can get her published, imagine what it could do for some of those snoozing stories we've all got filed away.
Dan's advice: as long as something's there, you can work that material until it's clean and meaningul (and you bleed ink).