1. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    How Soon and How Much?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Catrin Lewis, Nov 10, 2014.

    Not sure if this is the correct forum for this, but here goes.

    In my romance-thriller I've brought my protagonists to the point where at last they realize and confess their love for one another. I give them three days of blissfully making up for lost time. But there's an issue between them. There's a principle/cause/belief system that she adheres to, but he, due to bad childhood experiences, rejects. He's aware of her adherence, but in his own mind minimizes the extent of it. She's aware of his antipathy and plays down the strength of her adherence out of love for him.

    But on the morning of the fourth day he discovers how serious she is about this principle/cause/belief system and is upset. They fight. She leaves (to do something connected to the principle/cause/belief system) and when she returns, he's gone.

    When they see each other the next day, she's prepared to offer an accommodation. But he doesn't want to talk about it. He goes all flat and laconic and will only say things like, "That's up to you" and "You've made your decision." She's convinced it's all over between them. Then, just before he leaves for a business appointment, he says, "And I've made my decision. Soon as this meeting's over, I'm calling [my on-again, off-again old girlfriend] and breaking it off with her for good."

    Ambiguity! Cliffhanger! (Or that's my intention.)

    As I'm writing it so far, the next chapter takes place two months later. It will soon become clear that my protagonists are more in love than before.

    My question is, how soon do I have to let the reader know how they worked it out and what motivated his behaviour in the previous chapter? There's a logical place for it three or so chapters further in, but is that leaving the reader hanging too long? What is spoon-feeding the reader, and what would be jerking the reader out of the story because he or she is saying "What the hell happened back then?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    There seems to be a scene missing. Either the reader is to believe he's caving because she's making accommodations or something has happened off screen so to speak. Of the romances I've read ( in third person )- the writer will usually cut to a scene involving the hero so that when they ( hero & heroine ) meet up again we'll understand his behavior. But without some insight into the guy, as a reader, I would feel like I missed something. I don't think that's spoonfeeding the reader - I think that's just keeping them abreast of what's going on so the characters don't across flaky. Unless there's some big mystery afoot - and if there is there still needs to be a careful breadcrumb trail of clues.
     
  3. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I had planned a scene from the hero's POV, to take place the afternoon of the argument, where he complacently assures himself that the dispute is no big deal and given enough time, "She'll see things my way," etc., etc. But since I thought of that, his personality and background have developed past the point where that would be likely. He is genuinely upset, but I don't think I need to show that further, it'd just repeat prior material. So I'm keeping things in her POV and going straight to the ambiguous scene the next day.

    What I'm trying to avert is the impression that they kiss and make up and this particular conflict is behind them. They do kiss and make up, they do make accommodations, but the issue is merely suppressed and they'll both have to deal with it at the climax of the story.

    If I don't start the next chapter explaining what went on, hopefully my reader will trust me well enough to know I will deal with it at the right time . . .
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
    peachalulu likes this.

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