Almost a month ago, I had an idea for a fairly major change in Hunted in Shadow, which would be hugely dramatic, cause enormous conflict (leading to the Black Moment), and would shift the onus for Marley getting kidnapped again from her (as was originally outlined) onto Conall–who had spent the entire book up to that point doing everything possible to protect her. I liked the irony.
The idea’s been sitting in my mind, simmering, though I hadn’t actually updated my outline yet. Then last week I was telling another friend about the story. She was very enthusiastic, loved the concept. And then I got to this part where Conall does this thing and my friend shouts “Oh my God I hate him now! How are you going to fix that?!” The vehemence of her response gave me pause, and I started to think about it seriously–how was I going to fix it. Yeah, the action provided great conflict, absolutely perfect set up for the Black Moment, but I wasn’t sure I had enough story left for him to redeem himself.
So this week as I sat down working on character arcs and trying to do a little bit of plotting (which I am happy to say I have completed, so we are in gravy territory), I tried to envision the aftermath of this action. And when that aftermath began to include a considerable timespan after the action climax of the story, I knew I had a problem. I didn’t have enough story left to redeem him from such an action. And on further analysis of his GMC, the action really wasn’t consistent with his. He simply wouldn’t do to her what I had him doing in the name of protecting her because there was really no certain way to know that such an extreme action would actually protect her.
Now I’m back to my original outline with Marley’s hot headed response to the Black Moment being the thing that gets her kidnapped again–which is absolutely consistent with her character. My original outline holds true, at least on that point. It’s nice to have an outline. I never thought I’d say that. But instead of restricting me, I feel like it’s comforting. I”m not afraid of changing it, but it gives me a yardstick to say “if I change this thing, how does it impact this and this and this?” to decide if it’s a change worth keeping or if it’s just another case of my incessant desire to complicate the heck out of everything I write.
Another case of complicatitis avoided.