Throwing a Curveball: Don’t Make It Too Easy for Your Characters

June 24, 2015

This month we’re talking about great advice I’ve received from editors, and so far we’ve covered turning monologue into dialogue and adding sexual tension. Now we’re going to go one step further with a plot editing tip.

Don’t Make It Too Easy For Your Characters

A Countess Most DaringWhen I wrote A Countess Most Daring, it had a different beginning and a different ending.  You would think with so much editing I would have given up, but the editor on this project was right. For the beginning, she had me cut a piece of dialogue that was great, but the story moved much more quickly when started when the action picked up. As for the ending, she told me this advice: don’t make it so easy.  So when Kate comes to rescue Thatcher, I had her easily walking right up to the balcony, rescuing him, and leaving.  Boring, right?

That’s why this was added:

Kate ran to the stairs at the end of the balcony.  Thatcher stood at the top of them, a hand outstretched waiting for her to take it.  She tucked her pistol into the back of her breeches as she took Thatcher’s hand.  They descended the stairs quickly, the footfalls silent as they hit the paving stones that led into the gardens beyond.  Thatcher halted suddenly, and she looked up.
Three guards stood in front of them, and each of them had his gaze locked on them.  It appeared the one she had incapacitated on her way up the stairs had been found by two comrades.  The one still held a hand pressed to the back of his head, but he dropped it when he spotted her.  He shouted something at her in a language she didn’t understand, but she didn’t retreat.  She threw a sidelong glance at Thatcher, who very carefully cast a glance behind them.
Kate, with equal stealth, also looked behind them before she snapped her gaze forward at the three guards approaching them.
“Mr. Thatcher, would you care to dance?” she said.
“I reckon, I would,” Thatcher said.
Together they stepped back in one fluid motion, grasping the arms of a wooden bench that sat behind them.  Together they heaved it into the air, running forward as they did so.  The bench connected with the three guards in a sickening blow, knocking them to the ground.  Kate felt the blow ricochet up her arms, but she didn’t lose her grip on the piece of furniture until she and Thatcher had cleared the men.

Don’t make it easy for your characters.  Give your readers a reason to turn the page.

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