The latest lecture in my workshop has shed significant light on my plotting problems. Such problems are difficult to put words to, and until now, I have only been able to come up with the words “too slow”—as pertaining to pacing. Another writer (or two) said my first book had no plot, but the romance was the point. As a reader primarily of Fantasy novels, in which there is a hero (or background hero, or antihero) that I fall indirectly in love with, the notion of my own fantasy-set novel not having a plot was shocking.
Lately, another reader’s long-ago comment has been rolling around in my head. They said Labriella’s unsanctioned break from the temple had lost its sense of pressing danger. Sure, she was worried about being tracked down by hunting dogs, but as of yet, nothing had ever come of it. How strange for her to be looking out at the lavender-eyed noble’s dogs with nervousness, when thus far she appeared to be in the clear from everything but nobles and wolves (and maybe Rome’s less-than-charming self).
Then today, after fumbling through my online class’s jam-packed lesson, it dawned on me: That’s what is missing from volume 1. That is how to get the plot moving, rather than just having a slow-paced, anticlimactic (IMO) Romance. Labriella can’t tell the reader about Rome, get locked out of the temple, run into Rome, and lay low somewhere until Alonza comes a-calling. It’s not enough for Labriella to be chased in the first chapter. She has to be chased repeatedly, by multiple people. The temple should be actively hunting her down, right off the bat. And there’s no way Labriella wouldn’t try every day to return to the only place she could call home, unless she got notice not to.
So there you have the first part of the new Book 1, which I am of a mind to call “Runaway” (though the overuse of that title in the book market, according to a GoodReads search, looks troublesome). The first few chapters must consist of Labriella actually running away, not just hiding out. The idea must be that every time she thinks she has found a safe place to settle for the time being, somebody else finds her. That makes it plausible that the only safe place to be is potentially with Rome.
The question that then arises, is what to do with Rome’s perspective. If Labriella is running for three chapters, that’s all in her P.O.V. Is it really okay to switch to Rome’s P.O.V. in chapter 4? Maybe, if I continually mention Rome and compare others to Rome in her thoughts? That’s setting her up for quite the heartbreak when Rome debuts his beastliness to save her. If he does that, can I really play the “she doesn’t know it’s him” card, if she is expected to go with him? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean she has to know he still has affection for her…yet. That sounds like a job for a few well-placed keepsakes Bre shouldn’t be snooping around.
The other question is, how much do you (the reader) need to know off the bat? In other words, how much of Labriella’s temple life should I be showing you in the first chapter? Should I give you a one-day walk in her shoes before I shake everything up? Some people would say that means “starting too early.”
Also, because of this new running-away progression, it would probably be best to take the near-rape, Rome-saves-the-day situation out of the would-be first chapter. That’s better left for jealous romantic times.
In other news, I am largely done writing Day 2 of Alonza’s party. That’s always a dangerous kind of pronouncement to put in writing—especially since I’ve been lagging for 2-3 days on writing the ending, and am almost out of my groove now. It’s because I would rather be writing the next exciting scene, then following up the scene I just wrote with dialogue. Bitching and moaning, I know. Maybe that means the talking part will be super brief, so I can just get on with it. I want Day 3, damnit!
Ending dialogue: Tomorrow’s project.
And no, that is not a procrastination statement.