The format for my new manuscript is different than anything I have tried before. At the beginning we are in the present, at the start of what will be the protaganist's resolution. Then the story flips back to the past, but it is not a flashback. The character isn't thinking about the past; the reader is actually brought back to it. The first portion of each chapter is the present, the second portion is the past. So there are two story arcs for the same character, both revolving around the character going into rehab. The past shows the build up to rehab. The present portion starts after she is released, and so it is her resolution. The two arcs are parallel, and the reader will (hopefully) see the character dealing with the same issues in different ways. It also (hopefully) builds tension by using the past to explain the things she does in the present. For example, she loses a child in the past, and in the present we see some manifistations of that pain that don't make total sense until we delve into her past. The problem is that I'm having a hard time maintaining conflict when I'm in the present. Obviously, the build up to her rehab is where most of the conflict takes place. The present/resolution is all about her dealing with the backlash of her past and overcoming it. Although this story is mostly literary, there is a romantic interest, and the love of a good man is a huge (but not total) part of her redemption. I need to keep the two main characters apart until the very end, but I'm only halfway through and she's pretty much dealt with everything she needs to deal with. There are still some issues that she and the hero need to work out, but it'll only take another chapter or two to finish their story. I'm not even close to being done with building up the past. At the beginning the two arcs were in sync, but now the present arc is outpacing the past arc. I suppose I could invent some more conflict, but how do I do that without it appearing contrived? I don't want to resort to the failsafe of making the hero and heroine have a "wacky" misunderstanding. And I considered making her relapse (again) and having her go back into rehab (or at least have some dark days to put a halt in the romance), but I'm already having issues with her appearing weak by doing drugs whenever things get rough. I know that is realistic, but I'm afraid she'll become unsympathetic and even the hero won't want her anymore. Maybe the problem is that I'm trying to do it 50/50, exactly half in the past, and exactly half in the present, mostly just to help the reader keep it straight about what time period they are in. But most of the story is in the past. What is more important? To give the reader cues so they know what time period they are in and can follow along without having to think much about it, or to structure the story in a way that keeps the pacing in tact? And are headings enough to cue the reader (i.e. New York, NY - 1997)?