In the story, Seamus’s ex-wife’s husband (Albert Cunningham III) goes missing. The ex-wife (Elisabeth Cunningham) connives to get Seamus to help figure out what happened. Before long, the whole family is involved including Seamus’s mother (Trudy), his son (Paddy), his love interest (Abigail Hancock), his son’s life partner (Cindy Nelson) and the son (Chad Cunningham) of the missing man. Whenever you have that much family together under stress for an extended time, old wounds reopen. In the end a family is strengthened or weakened or both.
I wrote Bad Policy, the first of the series, using Seamus’s first person point of view. It was a traditional challenge to the reader: can you solve this murder mystery before Seamus? I switched approaches in the second of the series, Cabin Fever, and used multiple POVs. As a result, that novel was more suspense/thriller than traditional who-done-it. In writing Doubtful Relations I stayed with multiple POVs to develop psychological suspense: Seamus continues with his first person POV, and because action simultaneously occurs in two locations, I chose to give Paddy his own POV. I also included POVs for the missing husband and his kidnapper.
The reader sees the kidnapping in the prologue. Seamus and friends start with less information, but eventually catch up to the reader. Thenceforth, it is a race to figure out who is behind it and why. The internal story involves the crucible of a family under stress.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yet I just finished a rewrite this week of all the parts of the story involving either Seamus or Paddy and I was not a happy camper.
Rock to Head
I had decided to first self-edit those sections with Seamus’s or Paddy’s POV. I told myself it would be easier to follow their storyline that way rather than jump back and forth to the other POVs, which would happen if I edited each scene in order.
Sometimes I am so dense it takes a rock to dent my consciousness. You might have already figured this out. What I just realized is that my unconscious was trying to tell me to ditch the husband and kidnapper POVs. Those thirty-two scenes I wrote are now backstory for me. The story works much better if the reader and Seamus/Paddy learn about the husband’s situation at the same time.
At least that’s my current thought. I keep backups of each draft, so the work isn’t lost. I’m cranked to write another draft to implement this flash of genius. It will be a challenge to piece in that backstory and find out if I finally have a solution that will work.
Question for the authors among our blog readers: Have you had a similar revelation? How did that work out?