Act 2: Putting all the threads together

We’re building a suspense book live here at MBT, and today we’re onto Act 2, pressing our heroine in to what I call the “fun and games” of the story.

As I talked about yesterday, I’m going to address the following elements as I build her scene.

First, we are going to start chapter 4 in Kenzie’s POV since we just ended Chapter 3 with Luke.  I don’t always have to alternate, but it’s a nice rhythm.  We’ll begin with a ReAction scene and since it’s a suspense, I’ll keep the momentum going by segueing into an Action scene.

My ReAction scene elements are:

Response – Now that she’s seen the “vacation home,” she has to have a reaction to it.   We might thread this in with her inner journey – maybe she believes this is punishment from God for the way she’s lived her life.  Goal – to figure out what to do.
Dilemma – Maybe she should just go home, or get a hotel.  But with that reporter on the loose, maybe she should just stay put.  Maybe Luke is right….she could get into more trouble.
Decision – She’ll give it 24 hours.  And then if it doesn’t work, she’s hiding out at a 5 star resort…

However, returning to the goals of the overall story, I also need to:

1. Re-establishing the Suspense thread.
2. Deepening the romance with an essential romance scene.
3. Dropping in a piece of truth to contribute to the inner journey
4. Drawing them to the next road marker on their character journey.

So, I’ll move into an action scene with the following application:

1. Re-establishing the Suspense thread – Maybe I’ll have a memory of the bombing, that rouses her with a scream that brings Luke (in the nearby silver stream) running.  Or, I could have an event that brings up the past and makes Luke realize that indeed, she’s more deeply shaken by the bombing that she led on.

2. I also want to deepen the romance, or at least ignite it, so while they have no attraction to each other at the moment, I need to spark this with a bit of interest/need.  If this was a straight-up romance, I’d build this in much earlier, but since we’re writing a R/S, I can belay that a bit and build the suspense first.  I think it’s key when you’re writing a suspense/romance to set up the suspense before you dive into the romance because it can get too romance driven if you don’t have suspense built.  I could do this by inserting an essential scene:  Perhaps I’ll have her tell him about her goals, and what she wants to accomplish in life, and why.  Or maybe she’ll tell him about the attack and what her greatest fear is.

3. Dropping in a piece of truth to contribute to the inner journey.  She believes that she has offended God with her behavior and that He isn’t “on her side.”  Luke also believes that he is not a real hero and “deserves” to live alone.  So, we’ll have them sit together and realize that the “night seems less dangerous when they’re with someone else.”  The truth that sets them free will be the fact that the

4. Drawing them to the next road marker on their character journey. – Because I’m going to keep this story short, I’ll move right into the attempt/failure – which means I’ll have to have her consider protecting herself, as well as touch on her desire to use her abilities for good.  So, I’ll have her want to be useful – like cook dinner for herself (and Luke?) I’ll also have her fail at this.

So, gathering up the pieces, I’ll start with my Action Objective for the scene:  To have her prove she doesn’t need to be “protected” or a bother to Luke by fending for herself.  Then, I’ll have her fail at this.

I’ll then start my scene by using my SHARP scene starter.

Stakes – She stay here?  Is this a bit of overkill or is she really in danger?
Heroine ID – She is missing electricity, her regular life, feels like a fish out of water.
Anchoring – Alone in the woods, pitch darkness, the unfamiliarity of the wind, the sounds.
Run – I could start her already asleep.  Or perhaps she is laying in bed, listening to the sounds, and deciding that this is a bad idea – and weighing her options, but then I might have to backtrack too much and bring in what happened.  So, what if I start with her rooting through his cupboards?  And while she’s there, and thinking about the next scene, I’ll have Luke mysteriously vanish (I’ll use his absence later).
Problem – her life has become out of control.  Can she ever find her way back to who she is?  Is God ever going to be back on her side?

Now, getting right inside her head, I’ll start with what she’s thinking:

If the gossip rags could see her now, they’d have a field day.

Read the rest: Chapter 4 Makenzie scene and post your comments for feedback/questions.  Thanks for reading!

Susie May

Next week, we’ll work on the next scene:  Luke’s response!

AND, if you’re interested in learning how to write a novel, we have three spaces left in our annual Storycrafter’s Retreat!  Come with an idea – leave with a story!

Some other posts on this topic:

Character change series.

Romance Journey series