Monday, May 11, 2020


By Mary Kennedy                                               

Here's an interesting question from a reader, one I've never heard before. (And no, I'm pretty sure my reader isn't a cat, but I really like this picture.)

Mary, I'm halfway through my first novel and I can hardly make myself work on it anymore because it suddenly seems very dull. Shall I scrap it and start over or continue to plod through it? Feeling frustrated in Boise.

Dear Frustrated: I wish I had more information. Is this a project you've been working on for months (or maybe years?) and you've been tackling it sporadically? Sometimes the excitement fades when a book is left "unattended" for long periods at a time. One of my friends put aside her book for several months after having twins and when she returned to it, she said, "You know, I hate to say it, but it's lost its new car smell."

New car smell. I love that description. We're so excited and brimming over with creativity when we first start a project, but creativity (like love) is ephemeral and can disappear if ignored and neglected for long periods of time.

But let's assume that you've been working on it fairly consistently and we'll look at some other possibilities.

*Maybe you had doubts about this project to begin with. Maybe you "liked it but didn't love it," as an editor said once to me. (And yes, it was about one of my books, but no worries, my agent sold it to someone else.)
*Maybe you've hit the dreaded, "sagging middle," that point when the book runs out of steam. You didn't mention where you are in the book, so I don't know if that's the case.

*What if there just isn't enough plot to sustain the reader's interest? This is a real possibility, especially with first books. This probably should have been addressed in the synopsis, but you need to tackle it right now before going any further 

Here's what you need to do: Pile on the obstacles for your protagonist! There has to be some major obstacle keeping him from his goal, but add plenty of smaller roadblocks along the way. Think of Romeo and Juliet. If their parents got along Shakespeare wouldn't have gotten a play out of it. Make a list of things that could possibly go wrong...and then double it!

Only you can decide if this is a project worth continuing. But I think if you re-evaluate the plot and where you hope to go with it, the answer will come to you. There's no shame in scrapping a project if it doesn't "sing" to you anymore. But you don't want to end up with a pile of unfinished manuscripts, either.

Only you can decide! Good luck and write me again with more details, if you like.

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