Panama Deception: The Novel That Almost Wasn’t

Blog Post 26 Broken Pen

Courtesy of Lorenzo and

Writing can be hard.  Really hard.  Sometimes, you want to give up because your plot isn’t working or your characters don’t have the spark required for a good conflict.

That happened to me.  A few years ago, I came up with two characters who I knew would create the sparks needed for a good conflict, which is a must for a novel.  The leading lady’s name is Alexandra Thornton (codenamed Alex).  She’s a down-on-her-luck former covert operations agent who was betrayed by Jabir al-Omri, her best friend, coworker, and leading man for the novel.  Jabir’s parents emigrated from Saudi Arabia, and Jabir converted to Christianity when he was in college.

I had the perfect mix.  Now I needed the plot.

At first I thought I’d be adventurous and write the novel in the first-person point of view (POV).  Very quickly, I found out that I totally stink at first-person POV, either because or I’m not meant to write from that POV or my writing hasn’t matured to the point where I can do so.  Time will tell on that.

I began writing the novel from where I was more comfortable, the third-person POV.  It worked a little better.  I drafted the whole thing.  I even started editing.  Then, about halfway through my editing, I made a horrible discovery.

I was not in love with the plot.

When writers are not in love with their plot, you can bet the reader won’t be either.

Despair tempted me to give up on the characters and let them remain only in my mind.

I couldn’t do that.

I made a decision to start over.  I stripped away everything—the setting, the plot, minor characters—until I had only Alex and Jabir left.  Then, I drafted an entirely new novel based on a completely different plot.  I had to take care to avoid letting wisps of the previous plot slip into this new version.  I told myself that if this one didn’t work, I’d leave it be and move on.

The good news?  It worked.

After completing the rough draft, revising it, and refining it, I now have a novel that I will be rolling into the production stage over the next couple of months.

Its name is Panama Deception.  Look for it sometime this spring.  I’ll post a more definitive date in the weeks to come.

If you’re a writer, you may have two characters who can’t fit into a plot.  It’s hard to say when to keep pushing and when to leave them be.  The reasons and circumstances are as unique as the writer.

But, I will say this.  Don’t be too quick to give up.  If you have to, take the plot in a totally different direction like I did.  The results may surprise you.  They certainly did me.

Question:  If you’re a writer, what have been some roadblocks did you overcome for a novel you produced?  If you’re not a writer, what kind of dream or vision did you almost give up on?  What propelled you to keep moving it forward to fruition?

I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  The work mentioned in this post is of my own writing.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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