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I am having serious second thoughts about the basic premise of my novel in progress. I no longer find it convincing. Also my theme, which once seemed so clear and compelling, now seems completely untethered from the plot.

For reference, I am currently working on rewrites. I have completed a “zero draft” of the story. When I first wrapped that up, I was still in love with it, but I knew there would be a lot to fix in rewrites. There were some big plot holes, the ending needed a better thematic set up, and one of the main relationships wasn’t really conveying. So I have been working to fix those problems, but to my dismay, it seems like all the work I am doing continuously just exposes bigger underlying problems. It’s to the point that now I can’t even remember how it was supposed to work as a book at all.

To some extent, I understand this is “normal.” Typically, the advice I see online is that you should just finish the book anyway for the sake of practicing finishing. But I have two questions about that. 1) …really? and 2) how? How do you muscle through finishing a book you just don’t get at all anymore?

Plamen Marinov Posted new comment March 8, 2024

Maybe 95% of the things I write have a good idea, but I feel like they’re missing something and they sit in that waiting folder. I think I haven’t got the skills for them and they are “resting” until one day God’s grace finds me equipped to do them right. That’s why I think this 95% is my school of writing and humility.

Thank you for your answers guys! A lot has changed since I posted this. Long story short, I am still working on the book. The good news (which is also the caveat) is that I did manage to reconnect with the premise. I still don’t know how I would have kept going if that didn’t happen.

The “how” of that was incredibly unexpected, and I should probably blog about it, but I also want to mention it here because I think it’s instructive.

The short version is that I read. I’m a huge proponent of reading to fuel your writing, but for the last couple months I’ve been stuck on this absolute slog of an 1858 fantasy novel. I wanted to love it, but I wasn’t actually taking in anything that was feeding my creativity. Last week, I shelved it for a new book. And WOW. That new book was so good that it literally reminded me what I love about books, and in turn, what I loved about this book.

Brad, I really appreciate that you wanted to answer according to my personality lol! The truth is, I don’t normally need outside encouragement and I’m usually confident in my instincts. But I think one of the reasons I posted here was because my instincts were failing me and deep down I could tell.

(P.S. If anyone’s curious, the book I was struggling to read was Phantastes by George MacDonald, which I so wanted to love because apparently it’s the book the opened C.S. Lewis’s eyes to how fantasy could be used as Christian fable. The book a loved is a brand new release called The Other Valley by debut novelist Scott Alexander Howard)