CalPac Crew #3 teaser
So even as I wait for the second round of edits on First Impressions from Dreamspinner, I’m ramping up work on future CalPac books. I have tentatively titled the third installment of the CalPac books Burning It Down, and it tells the story of Owen Douglas, the fire captain (if that title even exists…it may not, and I
have to research it), and Dr. Alexander Lennox-Johansson, DVM. Owen has been injured in the line of duty and Alex has escaped an abusive relationship. For some reason, I feel like writing about wounded people. They seem more interesting. Maturation as a writer, or an emergent mean streak, you choose.
I also thought it might be interesting to pull back the curtain on the writing process, assuming–perhaps erroneously–that any of you cares about how the stories are written, only that they are written. There are still a few macro-level plot points to resolve, so who knows, maybe crowd sourcing will come up with some ideas.
I think the first thing to mention is that I generally follow a W-shaped plot structure, with the five points of the W representing the highs and lows of dramatic action (called barriers below).
- First Barrier: The protagonist begins work toward his objective and encounters the first barrier. [They recognize the attraction, but after their hook-up, Alex is too embarrassed, Owen dejected by Alex’s perceived rejection since he post-injury he feels old and useless]
- First Barrier Reversal: Things don’t look good, but the protagonist manages to overcome the first barrier [They decided to give it a go—what does this look like? Two people pining for each other, have to show them going about life and missing each other, but what else?]
- Second Barrier: At the high point of the action, just when it looks like the protagonist has it made and his objective is within reach, the rug is suddenly pulled out from under him in the unexpected second reversal. [Things are going great between Alex and Owen, but then Jordan the abusive ex shows back up, stalking Alex and threatening Owen]
- Second Barrier Reversal: At the low point of the action, when things look very grim, the protagonist still has an opportunity to overcome this catastrophe and achieve his objective. [Alex breaks it off, allegedly to protect Owen but also his own fear. But Owen won't go quietly, and they realize they can’t let Jordan control them, so they renew their relationship. Jordan locks them in the boathouse—while they’re having sex?—and sets it on fire]
- Resolution: The protagonist either does or does not pull out of the catastrophe, resolving the plot either tragically or triumphantly. [aftermath—Jordan’s trial, Owen regains his self-confidence as a man, Alex realizes fear can’t rule his life, they move in together?]
Usually, I more or less end a novel with the protagonists getting together, but Burning It Down will be a bit different. Alex and Brad will be together fairly early on in the story (at least compared to the way I usually tell stories), unlike Nick and Morgan and Drew and Brad were, to an extent, threatened more by their own perceptions and beliefs. Owen and Alex, however, will face a very real and existential threat in the person of Alex’s psycho ex.
So…what do you think?
Oh yeah, on Friday I’m doing a citizen’s ride-along with my local fire department. For research. Get your minds out of the gutter. I think it’s a pretty cool opportunity.