Author Journal: From Cranky Characters to Passionate Plot Points

17th August 2023

Welcome back for another Author Journal update. It’s starting to look like I’m on a roll with these; three weeks and counting! Woohoo!

Life’s Wee Interruptions

Last week, the plumbing issues worsened to the point that it became obvious it was a far bigger problem than we’d thought. It turns out our whole street is suffering from them. Not to worry, though, Scottish Water is on its way to deal with it. Fingers crossed it’s dealt with today 🤞

Unlike the previous week, I was able to focus on work… and boy, did I need to focus.

Delving Deeper into the Outline

I set out to complete Action Step 6 (AS6) by adding all my changes to Acts Two B and Three to the new outline document. At first glance, the changes to the story didn’t look like they’d had too much effect on the original story. Even when I did the logic checks of AS5, it all seemed to flow right. That was until I ventured deeper into the new outline.

When Characters Strike Back

AI Created Image of Adam Dekker

The first stumbling block I hit was that I’d cut Leigh’s part (a future heroine) from Act Three and assumed that leaving her Act Two B bits intact would be fine. They looked fine, but I hadn’t looked at one particular set-up scene from Adam’s POV.

I had Adam (my hero) doing something rash but rational, given the trying and time-sensitive circumstances of the scene. But the moment I went to add it to the outline, Adam started in on me about how he ‘widnae dae that.’ He added that he’d kick his guy’s arses for them if they ever did what I had him doing. (He was less polite about it in my head 😂)

And you know what? He was right. There is no way in hell he would do what I had him doing. It was a plot device to make the next scene happen. It was lazy writing on my part. Once I’d accepted that I’d caused this by not doing the hard work of figuring out what Adam would do in the situation, I knew what to do. I needed to do that hard work. After a lot of brainstorming and evaluating ideas, I finally hit upon what Adam would do in the situation. It’s realistic to his character and heightens the tension of the two scenes that follow it.

Intimate Scenes Remix

After that, things went smoothly for a few scenes, but I had a nagging feeling that I was about to hit an even bigger stumbling block. This time, I was right. I added the second of four sex scenes to the outline. All four scenes are in the original manuscript, and I’d assumed they didn’t need to change. I mean, they do what sex scenes in a romance are supposed to do. They move the story along, build the romance arc, and show character development.

But, after all the story changes, something was off with the second and third. The emotions in the first draft don’t work for the improved story. It took me a day or so to figure out that the emotional changes were the issue. The second one was originally fun and adventurous, and the third was a silent declaration of what they both wanted but could never have.

In the new outline, the second is intimate and emotional, as it follows a high-tension scene and the threat of danger. To have that same dynamic in the third sex scene would be too repetitive, and it wouldn’t add to the story at all. It would just be there for the sake of being there.

Crafting the Perfect Solution

So, I removed the third sex scene to see if it was really needed. But it was apparent it was missing. First, I noodled with what could fill the gap, but nothing I came up with worked. Then, I toyed with switching the scenes around, having the third one as the fun one, but it didn’t work with the following three scenes—nor the one before it.

When I looked harder at the surrounding scenes and at what point of the story I was at, an idea hit me. They were heading toward the Break Up, and All is Lost plot points. The points that require an author to be cruel to their heroes. How cruel could I make the sex scenes? I’m talking emotionally brutal.

I thought about Elle’s hangups on love and then Adam’s. How could the scene mess with them? How could it deepen their doubts about each other? How could it fuck them up the most? With those questions in mind, a devilish scene unfolded in my head.

Race to the Finish Line

I spent so long working through those stumbling blocks that I didn’t get to Act Three. I finished Act Two B, but I’m not entirely happy with the last couple of scenes. I rushed through them to get them done. I’ll revisit them this week and figure out what’s not quite right about them.

The Road Ahead

Speaking of this week. Act Three is calling! This time, I aim to finally finish AS6 by adding Act Three to the outline. I’d love to add more goals, but I’d prefer to go back for seconds than be unable to finish what’s on my metaphorical plate.

Thanks for reading. Take care, and I’ll see you soon!

Author: Susan T. Braithwaite

Royal Navy veteran from Scotland. My journey into writing started with a screenwriting certificate program at UCLA Ext. Since then, I've worked as a freelance content writer, erotica author, proofreader, professional beta reader, and content editor. I'm now working hard on my dream writing career: romantic suspense author. When I'm not writing, I can be found drinking too much coffee, obsessing over yarn, and planning world domination with my husband,, and our squirrel army.​

5 thoughts on “Author Journal: From Cranky Characters to Passionate Plot Points

  1. Amazed that you managed to get so much done with all the disruptions; well done, sweetie 😘

    1. Thanks, Sweetie! It was a hard slog, but you did a great job trying to minimise them so I could work. 😍😘

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