A few weeks ago, I talked about plotting as the process of asking ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ and then making that happen. This means a story becomes a series of moments where the hero or the heroine (or, perhaps, the villain) is heading for their goal, full steam ahead, when something happens to deflect them.
Of course we, the readers of romantic fiction, know our protagonists will eventually find their way to safe harbour, quite possibly in a far better destination than the one they planned at the start. So we sit back and enjoy the journey. Not so the poor characters who face the cliff-hanger chapter endings, the crises, blocks and turning points, the things that go wrong.
This week, I’d love you to share a crisis or turning point. Mine is from Prudence in Love. Prue and her sister Charity have been packing to leave the house Charity shared with the villainous Earl of Selby now that she has discovered his real character. But Selby and his cronies have arrived before they can escape, and are planning rape and murder. But first, Selby cannot resist showing off to his friends, by demanding that Charity demonstrate for them her competence at fellatio.
She leaned forward, opening her mouth, and slid her eyes sideways to meet Prue’s. It was enough. As Charity grabbed the most vulnerable part of Selby’s anatomy and squeezed, Prue flung herself on the hand in which Annesley held the gun and knocked it upwards. From the stairs, Barnstable gave a yell at the same time as Selby’s anguished scream.
Prue had no time to look at how the other women were faring. Annesley was larger and stronger than her, and close quarters was not how she would win this fight. Still, if she could get the pistol off him, if Charity had enough wits about her to come to Prue’s aid, they might have a chance.
He was forcing the barrel around towards Prue when Charity hit him over the shoulder with an iron pot, and the gun went off with a loud reverberating bang, throwing him backwards.
Prue sprawled where he dropped her, but was gathering her feet beneath her to throw herself back into the fray, when Charity threw herself down between Prue and Annesley. “Prue? Are you hurt?”
The swine had missed, thanks to Charity, but she had not hit him hard enough. He was leveling the pistol again, grinning broadly. On the stairs, Barnstable was dancing in place, complaining. “She bit me! I was going to be nice, little girl, but…”
Selby’s voice was high and strained, as he dragged Charity away from Prue by her hair. “You’ll pay for this, Charrie, you filthy little trollop.”