Alright, I’ve been talking to icefox2flamingphoenix, and they brought up some valid points.
- The story is not a romance or a fantasy; it is both. As a combination, it will not look strictly like either.
- Labriella suddenly turned from a submissive runaway, into a hotheaded independent-thinking woman upon arrival of volume 2. …HUH?! Does NOT make sense, or fit with the flow of the story.
- Too many circles makes very little and very slow story progress. (This is actually a complaint I’ve heard from more than one person.)
Rome and Labriella always running away from one another is actually more than just a progression problem or an exaggerated character flaw. It’s problematic because they need to stand together to defeat their enemies. And while coming together against all odds is a conflict of note, they don’t necessarily need arguments and hissy fits to make that a conflict.
Along these same lines of progress and conflict, somehow starting in chapter 1 of volume 2, Labriella’s quiet defiance has suddenly erupted into a rebellious full-fledged lover. While it would make volume 2 a great stand-alone romance novel, it is not meant to be only that. Much as sex is to play a HUGE role in the story, it is at the same time not purely a sex story, but the story of two people bonding to take on something greater than themselves. Caught up in the details and people-pleasing, and anxious for the characters to finally join together, I seem to have lost sight of that. Somewhere in here is a love story that got buried beneath the circles and the self-doubt, in both my characters and in me. And I’m sorry for those of you who love strong classic underdog heroines who always come out on top, but in order to be a strong underdog heroine in this story, Labriella cannot come out on top, either figuratively or sexually (as backwards as that may sound).
Solution? One those who stopped after reading volume 1 are going to applaud, but one those who are following only volume 2 are not going to like: I’m changing volume 2. Chapter 1 should not be a verbal battle; it should be WAFF. That was my fork in the road, and I blew it, because I wasn’t sure where to go from the “afterglow” of the epilogue that would be directionful and not mushy. But even before that gap, there are a few emotional holes I need to fill in–particularly around the part where Rome gave Labriella to Gian.
But here’s the part of the solution I’m not sure anyone is going to like: I’m taking out the “ladies of the evening” arc. It was not planned in the first place, and it seems to have slowed down the storyline rather than helping it along. It has added to the cyclic feeling, and it has as good as crucified Labriella’s innocence and credibility in the story. Not good. Plus it’s downplaying her virginity, which is key.
So, sex is going to take a backburner to romance. Imagine that.
And Labriella is back to being submissive.
This means volume 1 revisions are pending, and quite possibly at least one extra chapter. I am also revisiting the idea of adding another chapter to the teen years, since that is when the sexual attraction between them began. When I first wrote the childhood chapters, it felt like pulling teeth. They were vague, they felt useless…And then somehow, after reading oldschool British poetry, when I went back to rewrite and add to those chapters, they erupted into a riot of color. Perhaps now, going back, I can do so again.
At this point, volume 2 may be almost entirely redone. But this actually has more to do with my personal convictions, than with what icefox2flamingphoenix said.