More thinking, more critique forum input, more thinking again about my problem-child chapters in my work-in-revision Free Souls.
One reason they’re weak, I’ve decided, is because they’re trying to answer the wrong question. I’d had my main character verbalize it as “Why am I so afraid?’ That misses the mark. The real issue for her is,
“What do I love so much about the status quo between myself and [the hero], and why am I afraid for it to change?’
That got me thinking about what her status quo is. Ah, yes, she’s his office wife. No sweet nothings and no actual sex, but plenty of secret thrills for her whenever they’re working literally close together.
This poses a question for me, the author: Do the prior relationships I’ve given her logically bring her to a point where she’d settle for that and not want to see it jeopardized?
Next question: Does she have a reasonable fear that it might be jeopardized, as the draft is currently written?
Hmmm. Come to think of it, I don’t know. Where did we leave her in Chapter 9? The hero has paid her a personal compliment or two; he’s offered her a promotion and she’s grudgingly accepted it. Maybe she’s just borrowing trouble when she fears that either of those will disturb the homeostasis she has established!
Ooooh. Not good drama. Not effective in holding the reader.
Let me think some more. How to ramp up the drama?
Well . . . I could expand a couple of paragraphs in earlier chapters of the book, to make readers more aware of the happy status quo with the hero and how much she enjoys it and what’s at stake for her if it ends. Don’t spell it out, show it. Yeah.
And maybe I could intensify the conflict in Chapter 9, in the car where he offers her the promotion. Leave her acceptance of it up in the air, and make it clear that if she refuses, things will not go back to the way they were. That should increase and justify her anxiety.
That might do it.
You see what this means, don’t you? Last November when I started serializing this old novella of mine I figured I’d slam it up there, with a little tarting up here and there. I wasn’t going to publish Free Souls anywhere but here. I’ll never make a dime on it. Now here am I, treating it like a real work of art. And neglecting my “real” novel, Singing Lake Farm.
I’m committed to this stupid book, chained, stuck, and my income tax return isn’t even done.