Will They Or Won’t They… Or When Will They?

Back to blogging about the work I’m doing on my novel, FINDING KATE, based on some excellent feedback I received from an agent:  this time, the focus is my main character, Kate, and her love interest, Will. If you’re familiar with Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew, you know them as Katherina and Petruchio.

One of the things the agent suggested was for me to have more scenes between Will and Kate to enhance the development of their relationship.

This idea worried me quite a bit when I first approached it.

I have structured the novel in three parts, almost like the acts of a play, and in the second part, Will and Kate are almost entirely alone together. THAT is where the relationship really builds and grows and changes, and THAT is where Kate undergoes her transformation, so that in Part 3, she can return back home and face the demons of her past. Of course, the agent read only the first 100 pages, which isn’t even all of Part 1, so she would have no way of knowing this.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is, how long can two people be close together before things get heated… too heated? This blog post by Jenny Hansen is a valuable breakdown of the stages of intimacy. For Will and Kate, the eye-to-body contact, when she first sees him, is immediate — page 3 — and quiver-inducing (at least for her). Eye-to-eye contact follows the next day and crackles with potential. If I kept up that kind of pace, well, I’d be writing historical romance, not historical fiction, if you know what I mean. So how much can they be together without those eye contacts becoming too smoldering, without casual contact becoming too suggestive? There are scenes in Part 2 where things get more intense, but if the pace accelerates in Part 1, those scenes will seem like moving backwards. This is a conundrum I’m grappling with right now.

I worry that if Will and Kate are together more in Part 1, I won’t be able to stop them from connecting in the way that needs to wait until Part 2. Because they are electric when they are together. And I can’t be responsible for what happens. 😉

I have added a couple more scenes that emphasize the differences between Kate and her sister Blanche and show why Will would be more interested in a woman like Kate rather than a woman like Blanche. Also, as I’ve noted before, one of my goals for this revision is to show Will’s perspective as the outsider coming into this situation: he doesn’t see Kate in quite the same way as the people who’ve lived with her all her life. To them she’s a shrew; to him, she’s an intelligent, lively woman who is terribly misunderstood.

I’ve already noticed that, as I add these scenes, I now have to change some of the scenes I already wrote. The tension is building quicker and earlier. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing; it’s just different, and I have to deal with it.

Has anyone else dealt with an issue like this in revisions?








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2 Responses to Will They Or Won’t They… Or When Will They?

  1. It may just be a matter of shortening act one and getting to act 2 more quickly. Holding too tightly to the plotting of the play may not be to your advantage if you are trying to sell it as a book in the YA/MG market–modern readers have different expectations. And the first act in a three act plot structure should be your shortest. If you aren’t getting through the first act in 100 pages, you might want to consider what really happens in the first act and see if it needs to be that long. What can you condense down so that we can get to the meaty stuff of the transformation sooner. It might be worthwhile to spend a little time with some of the writing books that deal with the three-act novel structure and see what they recommend for the first act.

  2. Thanks, Jeannie. Among the feedback from the agent was that she likes the parts that depart from the play itself, which is reassuring, because those were the parts that made me nervous, given the nature of the source material (it’s “SHAKESPEARE”) and the expectations that many people will bring to it. I am no longer trying to market it YA, so I have more room (I mean, more pages) to explore relationships, but that doesn’t mean I want to meander.

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