Uh… how did I get to 20K words?
I am very glad I didn’t try to write A Perfect Day (With Explosions) a few years ago, because it’s taking a solid handle on story structure to figure out the mess I’ve gotten myself into now that I’ve blown up the mall. That is, while plot is a series of interconnected events, the plot arc, and the emotional arcs, are the *why* those things are happening, and why they matter. The pacing is *how much* they matter.
In past books, the female protagonist has a good, solid reason to be with the team, and clear goals, almost always aligned if not in common. (Even if that wasn’t immediately obvious, at first.) In this one, the main character is literally a walk-on – she ran into the guys by chance (as far as she can tell), and making sure she doesn’t correspondingly decide this is too much and walk right back off is a challenge.
It’s a power imbalance: when one character has an expertise that’s needed, but doesn’t need the other side, why would they stick around?
The obvious answer is: if I’m not going to rebalance needs through inciting incidents, I need to provide motivations. Internal, emotional reasons are ties that bind tighter than events… Sometimes the bonds of friendship can be tighter than any compulsion or threat. Sometimes, such as in fair weather friends, not so much. Best to rebalance both internal and external, if possible…
Meanwhile, my dearest, darling friends, whose desire to see more of this story is it own internal motivation on the order of a geas for me not throw my hands in the air and run screaming into the night… are being helpful. Sometimes “helpful” in the same way cats and three year olds are helpful. Like telling me “She’s a completely normal person. She’s got to be completely pissed off right about now.”
I reluctantly conceded the truth in that, because I don’t like writing verbal fights. “Yeah, damnit. Hold on, let me dredge up some of my earliest fights with my Calmer Half out of memory, before I fully appreciated just what I’d fallen in love with…”
They were exceedingly helpful on suggestions. “Yes!! You’ve got to write the epic fights over ‘I’m not your boot, and you’re not my drill sergeant!'”
“Ooh, and ‘Bleep you, stalkerish and controlling much?'”
“Don’t forget ‘No, I’m not doing random arbitrary bullpuckey without an expletive expletive explanation!’ I hated when he expected that!”
“I vote for ‘Will you just take a chill pill, and enjoy the day?’ and…”
*sinal salute* “Right, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? Yes, yes, we have. It wouldn’t be an accurate story without that.” Because loving the professionally paranoid is easy. Living with them is not!
Sometimes they’re genuinely helpful, “Hey, this icky emotional conflict stuff and verbally fighting you’re getting bogged down on? I’m a romance writer. This is my bread and butter. Let me show you how to write that better…”
The last book was full of hard learning curves, learning to write military from a soldier’s perspective. This book apparently is going to have its own hard learning curves, full of girly things as it is.
Of course, still me. I tried to follow the teaching example she gave me, I did, and it still veered off into death threats and chocolate cheesecake.
With a cherry on top.
At least it wasn’t an explosion?