Monday, January 25, 2010

2010: Day 25 - Going the Long Way Around the Barn For a Better Twist

To anyone following this blog, I apologize for sounding like a broken record but … I had another aha moment again today.
Here’s the deal, SHROUD OF LIES takes place in Los Angeles. Two of the main characters are protagonist, Rhonie Lude who is a PI and homicide detective, Joe Palermo. A body shows up dead and Joe is called to the scene. The victim is someone of interest to Lude—fine and dandy.

During the interrogation of a witness, I introduced a minor character (another police officer I’ll call Al) who for some reason I turned into a real creep in Lude’s opinion. I wasn’t sure if the scene would work, but I got a thumbs up from my crit partners because Lude’s interaction with Al (according to them) adds a great deal to her characterization. Unfortunately, that’s as far as I developed his character and Al never appeared in the book again. That bothered me—a lot.

After several days, I worked out a motive for Al’s existence and I was beginning to see ways that I could better merge him into the plot. Satisfied that the story was now going in the right direction, I moved on to the next few chapters which leads me to today and my new “aha moment”.

I feel as if I should say, “I was minding my own business when … “ I was working on a new opening paragraph for chapter 30. Lude uncovered a new development in the case and needed to go to Palermo’s office. I got it in my head that I needed to show her getting off the highway. Now, having lived in Los Angeles for a few years and having worked downtown, my memory of the area is still pretty clear. Still, I didn’t want to leave things to chance and decided to double check which off-ramp is the closest to the LAPD so I did a Google search of the area.

You know searches are. You go from one page to another to another and another. In the process I came across information that reminded me of the several police stations throughout the various parts of the city.

Aha! That was it!

That’s when it dawned on me how I could tighten the screws on this plot. I figured out that one of the missing bits of tension in this book was the history between Joe and Al. After writing a brief back story about these two men I discovered that at one time they used to work together until one of them was transferred to another station. But things weren't necessarily cordial between them. There were problems and issues of trust. Their conflict grew from disgust to hatred. One of them was ready to bring the other down until Rhonie Lude got in the way.

I know. The details are intentionally vague, but my point here is this: I’m in for more edits, but this bit of information just deepened the plot in a way I hadn’t imagined. No matter how well I'd outlined or planned out the chapters, I hadn't seen this one coming. And to think I wouldn’t have thought about it if I hadn’t been searching for the nearest off-ramp.