Writing Despair

I’m in a state of writing despair.  I can no longer see any good in my draft.  All I see are the flaws and it is overwhelming.  I’m not sure how to get over this.  I try to work on it, but I get discouraged very easily.  I remember when I read the novel in December (?) and was impressed by how good it was for a first draft.  But now, all I have are chopped up bits of novel that aren’t very good and don’t go together well.

I read my first chapter and I don’t know why anyone would keep reading.  I read the first chapter of a successful thriller or mystery, and I cannot put the book down, even if “nothing” is happening.  How do I get that?

My book starts slow.  The protagonist is an ordinary person who gets flung into a conspiracy by accident.  She is slow to realize that something horrible is happening because it is so far outside the realm of her experience.  So, the plot builds slowly.  Too slowly.  Even when I wrote the first draft I was aware of this problem, so I had a prolog set about half way through the story that was more gripping.  So the reader got a page of excitement, then dumped into the dullness of Chapter 1.  This seems a really inelegant way to do things.

I’ve tried coming up with a really gripping first line, but there is still a huge letdown as you slog through Chapter 1.  I suppose I could cut more, but I’ve cut about half the text already.  And I do want the plot & tension to build…

I think perhaps the solution is to put more interpersonal drama in the first chapter.  Those interactions between the characters might be exciting enough for people to keep reading.  But I’m not exactly sure how to do that.  My book is mostly plot driven rather than character driven, and I’m not sure how compelling my interpersonal dynamics are anyway.  On the other hand, I don’t have much to lose at this point.

So, that is where I’m at.  I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I would like.  I’ve mostly been avoiding writing since I realized this problem (and my lack of solution).

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