Monday, August 22, 2016

On the Other Hand

I've had time to think, and I've remembered that I can't make my hero too proactive. There must be a time in the middle when he decides things have gone back to normal, even though the reader can pick up evidence that the villain is still active behind the scenes. Why? Because the hero's single-minded focus on his work, in this plot, will be his potential ruin. It has to end up putting him and those he most cares about in danger, because, as he admits at the end, "I just didn't want to know."

Actually, my heroine is the more proactive of the pair. So proactive, in fact, that my latest beta reader accused her of superheroics at the story's point of crisis. No, sorry, that's staying in. Her issue is wanting to be in control and thinking everything is up to her. Yeah, she'd do what I have her do . . . but it worries me that that beta didn't see it that way.

More rethinking, more rewriting!

All Those ISBNs

And something else. Am I trying to do too much in this novel? There's a lot in there about my male protag's resentment against his missionary father . . . and his brother's confronting him about how he's living out the same pattern in his own work . . . Are those really necessary to what's supposed to be a romantic suspense novel?

But wait a minute. Didn't I put those scenes in there to show (not tell) how he came to be prejudiced against a certain ethnicity? That flaw is key to the villain's obsession with him. And didn't his brother's words give him a big push towards being willing to love the heroine and let her into his personal life?

The novella this book grew from was about 40,000 words. It trotted along right smartly and the thriller plot was pretty exciting. But it was full of holes and the love story was a wet wish-fulfillment mess. Do I really want to go back to that? No . . . not really. But . . .

Do you get the feeling I'm having serious doubts about whether I can pull this off? Yeah. Well, too bad. I can't give up now: I have all those ISBNs to use.


I really hoped and planned to get this novel onto Kindle and CreateSpace by the end of this month. It isn't going to happen, and not just because I've been too busy renovating my front room to design my cover and format my text.

It's not even that I've heard back from another beta reader, and it's clear that I'll have to make my main characters' basic motivations more convincing. And clean up some typos. And decide how much internal dialogue to put into third person indirect speech, or to cut altogether.

It's rather that, having allowed the manuscript to sit for several weeks, I'm seeing that the first part drags for sure and for real. My hero, especially, needs to be more proactive. It's true that at that stage his primary motivation is not to Defeat the Villain and Bring Down His Evil Plot for National Domination; he doesn't even know the villain has a plot for national domination.  He just wants the creep to go away and let him do his work (architecture) in peace. But as I've written him now, too many times he deliberately ignores acts that all my betas saw as the villain's dirty deeds, regarding them instead as accident or coincidence. I thought this was signalling how dedicated he is to his work. "See what he'll put up with if he can just go on designing!" But it's only making him look like a thickheaded fool.

I've been wrestling with this problem for awhile, and to some extent, this "Hear no evil, see no evil" attitude truly reflects who my MMC is.  For example, he'd definitely go out of his way to convince himself that the threatening note he receives isn't from the villain because he doesn't have time to deal with it. But after his apartment is burned out . . . is he really going to believe it was just a faulty space heater?  All logic dictates that he'll decide the bad guy is behind it after all, and he'll have to try to do something about it and fail.

This will mean some major rewriting in some places. I think I can do it without messing up my story's timeline or major plot points. But it will take more than the next nine days.