My post is late today. I’ve been on vacation. I knew the deadline was coming, but I put it off. There’s something to be said for timing.
Last month I told you I’d taken some time off to read for fun and try to make sense of comments I’d received about romantic suspense. While I did that, I’d put the finished manuscript aside.
This month, I picked it up again.
See, I can’t leave it alone and move on to a new project. It’s the first book in what I’ve conceived as a series. It lays the groundwork for setting, relationships, characters, and events. Plopping those elements in a different story doesn’t work for me. Plus, it’s the only one I’ve finished. It’s easier to learn using this poor manuscript as a guinea pig.
This month I rearranged my draft to speed the pace of a pivotal event, went through earlier drafts and found favorite scenes, and brainstormed ways to draw out the romantic suspense. I cobbled together a new manuscript.
And I hated it.
In all of that contrivance, I lost my characters and my story. They have no basis for their life-changing decisions, no reasons for their pain and frustration, and nothing to hold them together. Why would anyone like these people and read a story about them?
So I ditched it and went back to my finished manuscript and my plot structure lessons. My favorite is the Novem Structure – three bumps and a push. Each bump is supposed to get more intense, pushing the characters toward a big black moment that will make them rethink everything.
My problem? My characters did their rethinking way before the big black moment. So it’s like bump, bump, push, bump, end. You knew in the middle of the book how they felt. The last push became an anticlimactic thud. That really doesn’t keep you turning the pages, does it?
Rearranging the scenes I had already written put all the obstacles in the correct order. My hero and heroine still become romantic puddles of goo, just later in the story and without contrivance — and the reader can understand why they change their lives.
As in life, sometimes it’s all about the timing.
Want to know more about Novem Structure? Take Roses Plotting Bootcamp. You’ll be glad you did.
Next month we’ll talk about characters. Until then, read something fun!