This is harder than it seems because in this story, Sarah, my heroine, is being stalked by her abusive ex-husband and she has to get away from him. I want readers to believe that how she escapes makes sense and why she might not immediately call the police for help. I don’t want her be stupidly unwilling to get help in a dangerous situation, but on the other hand, I need to build the suspense and drama. Yikes!
I thought about what I would do given the set of circumstances I’d written her into. Hells yeah, I’d be calling the cops–you bet my chickenshit butt! Heck, the story would be over in ten pages if I were the heroine.
My stories are usually character-driven, sensual romances, so writing a plot-driven romance requires more…um…plotting. Yes, I still have to be in my characters’ heads and question their motivations and discover their psyches, but I also have to keep the action going. I have to move the plot along realistically and believably. And because my heroine is the one who drives the story, she has to move along believably, too. Readers will only accept her if she’s real or at least someone they can relate to.
I’m a little bogged down right now, can you tell? Today is my head-clearing day. It includes exercise, laundry, a couple of errands, and then sitting down to figure out where my heroine is going from here. The action needs to move the story along to a satisfying conclusion, which unquestionably means I need to go less by the seat of my pants and give more careful thought to how we’re going to get there. I’m already making notes… and the memo function in my iPhone is at the ready. And yes, I'm seriously considering...gasp! An outline!
So talk to me, pantsers—do you ever have to do some plotting to make the story work?