So this week it was Bob’s turn in the “explain this to me” brainstorming barrel, mostly about character, puzzling out how and why these people all came together and started shooting at each other (short answer: because Bob wrote it; if I’d written it, they’d all fall in love and have sex). Bob didn’t want anything deleted for spoilers, so the whole chat is below.
Bob’s Shane Plot
I started this early because I’m reading and didn’t want to lose track of time and miss you when you signed on. Take your time.
I thought it would beep or something.
So did you get my notes? Any help?
You made a point originally that lurks over Shane and Carpenter and this wedding actually will drive home– as long as they are in their profession, whoever they marry is threatened. The Duke moved the wedding out of country to try to protect the Duchess and it didn’t work.
Oh. That’s interesting.
One of the things that kneecaps romance is the fear of getting hurt.
Yeah– you have that to an extent with Anna and Nate
Because anybody over sixteen has been hurt by romance.
So this just makes it tangible, actual physical hurt.
Both emotional/abstract and physical/concrete.
Yeah. A lot of this I’m just going to have to write and see where the characters end up– I don’t want to force them. But it helps to know where they’re coming from.
It’s also probably not something that Shane thinks about much.
He’s used to people trying to hurt Agnes, but he’s the solution not the cause.
The other thing– you mentioned at least having a maid of honor, but I like the idea of LL becoming it. Also, the Duchess also knows of the threat. They’re doing this light and fast. Just the two of them and the entire Andovan Army. Also, I’m not sure she really has any friends.
She’d have at least one, surely. Women do that.
The Duke actually picked the venue because he knew about Shane
Which will piss Shane off a bit
Oh, that solves your why-Two-Rivers? problem. Good.
LL asks her that and she starts to say she doesn’t want to get anyone she cares about hurt; but she stops short.
Plus there are only so many characters I can handle on stage. But I’m keeping an open mind as Friday is the midpoint and might drag a bit outside of Phoebe going into the militia camp.
I can definitely see why she’d decide not to drag anybody into danger with her. It’s not a romantic wedding, it’s a political act. Which means she probably doesn’t care about the flowers and ordinary bridezilla things.
No she doesn’t. LL thinks they should just make the sign of the cross and be done with it.
That’ll simple things up for Shane.
Handling the wedding without Agnes, I mean. If the bride doesn’t care, the groom probably doesn’t. Why don’t they just call in a justice of the peace and get it over with? Why wait for a whole ceremony?
The Bishop of Andova is flying in just for the wedding– he’s not happy about it. Might have him kidnapped by the bad guys which will leave Carpenter doing another wedding.
Saturday night Eduard kills an intruder– and Phoebe’s subplot merges in as the weapons she’s after were sold to the mercenaries (opening scene isn’t a professor, it;s a militia guy selling ordnance and guns). The bad guys also wanted to take Shane out also up there– so everything really pulls together around Shane.
I like the symmetry of Carpenter stepping in again.
That’s good. So the mercenaries are trying to stop the wedding and kill Shane. Not trying to kill the D&D?
The mercenaries learn about the venue. They’re from overseas, probably South Africa. They can get in the US, but not their gear. When they check Two Rivers they see Shane and find out who he is. So decide to kill two things with one: get the weapons they need and have Shane there and kill him. That’s the mole in the Organization who arranges for Shane’s name to come out at #1 to be sent to Montana. That’s Carpenter’s problem in the Organization which Phoebe is tracking down.
So they’re after Shane’s armory?
And they’re targeting him to take out the only professional opposition?
Time for Carpenter to get back in the field.
No– they want the militia weapons they buy in Montana. But the Organization is tipped off and Shane set– but both the tipoff and Shane being tapped are because of the mole working with the merks.
Phoebe is the one who figures all that out. Which makes me realize Shane is really a problem being at Two Rivers
The Duke picks the venue because of him.
Let me back track.
The Big Bad is in the old country.
He hires mercenaries to . . . take out the D&D? Only one of them?
The Duke’s ex. Yes. But she’ll want to be there for the ending– the Red Wedding. She’s a little nuts. But she’s got good lawyers working for her.
So what did she hire the mercs to do? Exactly.
I think wipe D&D and the entire Andovan army out in one fell swoop. A true Red Wedding. And anyone who gets in their way, aka Shane, Joey, Garth and LL
Wouldn’t somebody back home notice this and ask questions?
Sure. And then the smart lawyers pin it on the enraged ex and things go back to the way they were.
Wait, isn’t the enraged ex the big bad?
Her plan is to get blamed for everything?
No. She thinks she can go back and take over. But like you say– people might miss the old Duke and Duchess. She’s not the brightest light thinking far ahead.
So the lawyers are plotting against her, planning on pinning it all on her (not that she doesn’t deserve it)?
Well she is behind it.
She’s just not the brains part. She’s the emotional part.
I’m just having trouble following this. If there’s an evil lawyer egging the ex on, planning to betray her, that works.
You need a smart antagonist.
Which is obviously not the ex.
Here’s a thought: the ex is sleeping with the Smart Big Bad lawyer; another layer to your betrayal theme.
There is an evil lawyer using her. But back in Andova. The Duke knows who it is and will take care of that when he flies home with the Duchess and the Army.
Not if the Evil Lawyer kills everybody at the wedding.
So the real conflict is Shane vs Evil Lawyer.
Yeah– but that guy is far off stage
He doesn’t have to be. Give him a PoV. He’s in Europe, but that’s not Mars. You like international plots.
Plus Agnes is in Europe. That puts her in danger.
The problem with the ex is that she’s an idiot. Great scapegoat, great red herring, terrible antagonist.
You want Shane’s opposite number up against him.
Hmm. Will think on it. It’s getting complicated, but I can make it work.
Actually, I think it’s getting simpler.
Maybe the guy isn’t Evil Lawyer. He’s head of the Secret Service over there, rose to power because he was doing the ex. He’s the Andorran Shane.
Then you’ve got two pros squaring off against each other. You’d have a blast with that.
Then everybody else is just goats staked out between them.
Okay– haven’t thought through the merks, yeah, the guy leading them could be the Big Bad from Andova. Already introduced some of them serve in the French Foreign Legion, so he would be able to recruit who needs from ex-legion guys
Or I could be wrong and shut up now.
No that’s good. He’d also be the guy who shot Shane in the first scene. Complete the circle.
Or, the Evil Whatsit could be the Andorran Carpenter, the leader of the mercs, behind the Andorran Shane who shoots him in the beginning. You could do a lot with those parallels and it would keep Shane’s antagonist at Two Rivers.
Yeah. This works. He’s the guy who got fired because he was boinking the Duchess who is now the ex. He had Eduard’s job before him.
So essentially, they’re doing a coup
At Two Rivers
That’s smarter on their parts.
So they’re going to pin the coup on . . . Shane? The nutso ex-Duchess?
A coup works if the people don’t really care
There might be some parallels between the Agnes/Shane courtship and the Evil/ex affair.
But people care about the D&D, right? They’re popular?
I think a lot of people don’t like change and D&D are getting ready throw out a tradition since Charlemagne. So the country is kind of on the fence
Ah. That’s good.
France and Spain aren’t thrilled about losing their money every year
This tightens it all down and makes it personal.
So really, it’s the D&D plotting the coup: they’ll get married, unite the two halves of the kingdom, cut out the lawyers. The Evil team is trying to keep the status quo.
Yes– an inertia is fine with most people
Except you can’t fight change, it’s inevitable. Not arguing with you, just looking at themes here.
One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist
To the victor belongs the spoils is ultimately what the wedding will come down to.
And Shane is the wild card
Okay, I’m trying to wrap my head around the basics of the plot. So let me recap what I think it is and then you can tell me where I’m screwing up.
Andorra is divided and being drained by lawyers because of an ancient agreement that no longer works.
The Duke and Duchess, leaders of their respective factions, decide to marry for political reasons (maybe not realizing they still care about each other from forty years ago).
The Duke, not being a dummy, says they’re going to have to elope, they’ll never survive an in-country wedding.
The Duke finds out about Shane (maybe from Carpenter?) and tells the Duchess he’ll meet her at Two Rivers, Carpenter gives Shane a head’s up?
No on that last one- neither Shane or Carpenter are clued in
Okay, scratch that.
The Evil Lawyer has found out and . . . mercenaries or the army on his side?
Anyway, the plan is to kill the D&D and pin it on the ex, especially since they’re in the US where everybody has a gun and shoots each other daily.
But then the Evil Lawyer finds out about Shane.
He figures Agnes is doing the wedding, so if he takes out Shane, the rest will be sitting ducks; sends the Andorran Shane to kill him.
Dropping the lawyer and going with ex-head of Army who was having an affair with ex-duchess
Story opens when the Andorran Shane (Evil Army?) is shooting at Our Guy.
Is Evil Army in the US shooting at Shane? Or did he send Shane’s opposite number?
It’s personal. Big Bad is the one shooting
Yeah- no off stage bad guys. It’s all or nothing for both sides
So this opens with your protagonist and antagonist shooting at each other, although the reader will think it’s just some guy.
I think it’s pretty tight now– of course, loose ends will pop up.
So the Evil Army needs to get rid of Shane and then off the D&D.
Yeah. And you brought up an interesting point. In a way the D&D are pulling off the coup. Big Bad is trying to keep things as they were
BB and ex-Duchess figure they’ll be welcomed back in Andova with cheers.
I can see where the ex-Duchess could be a major pain in the ass for Evil Army.
He has to keep her around and happy because she’s his scapegoat. And she sounds like a nightmare.
They have to drag her along.
Probably a really hot nightmare since she got the Duke and the Evil Army, but still a nightmare,.
But she won’t be seen much unless I add another POV which I don’t think I’ll do. Until Friday night and the intruder Shane has no sold evidence Two Rivers is threatened.
I’m just looking at complications.
I wouldn’t add her PoV. She’s a complication, not a player. She’s just there to make Evil Army’s life hell.
Kind of an Andorran LL. Without the heart.
Because what you’ve got is these two professionals drawing down on each other over the wedding. So they’ll be cool, focused killing machines, or whatever. But there are all these PEOPLE getting in their way.
Evil Army has to keep the ex happy so he can use her.
Shane has to keep the D&D alive.
Yes. I think the Duchess will have to take out the ex. Everyone takes out their doppleganger.
I need to redo my list of characters and focus on the bad guys which I haven’t done yet.
Maybe Evil Army has Agnes kidnapped and brought home and Shane’s holding the ex, thinking Evil Army cares.
Is Edouard the fencer good or evil?
Originally, I thought Evil Army opened the slot for her in Paris to get her off stage, but why would they care?
Right now, Eduard is good. But I’m open to anyone flipping.
Yeah, they’d just shoot her with Shane.
I think you figure out your Shane vs. Evil Army plot, and then hang the subplots on that, using doppelgangers and echoes.
Obviously, the last move is Shane taking out Evil Army; that’s your obligatory scene.
Yeah. Keep number of people to a minimum. Making Eduard the Big Bad would really be a twist since he is on stage.
But that makes him the ex’s ex. Maybe Eduard is the Andorran Carpenter?
I like Evil Army as the antagonist, Eduard turning out to be a big player when everybody assumes he’s just tailing LL.
Nah– Eduard is a good guy. Has to be.
Yeah, but the head of the secret service whatever could be a good guy. Doesn’t play politics but the D&D are not going to get gunned down on his watch.
If he turned, then D&D would have been done in a long time ago
The Duke and Duchess would have to be idiots to go to a strange place without some kind of bodyguard in place.
Exactly. They’ve brought the entire Andovan Army– all 12 of them
So he can act the laidback fool, but he’s always there when needed. Like Carpenter.
Plus they’re both chasing LL.
I’m assuming the D&D are smart.
If they’re idiots, they may have thought the army would protect them.
Okay, that’s good.
So Eduard comes along to play the fool and keep them alive. Carpenter. He never played the fool, but he downplayed how good he was.
Maybe not the fool. The playboy? Skirt chaser?
He’s a randy Shane
There’s a non-randy Shane?
Have you READ Agnes and the Hitman?
So Evil Army isn’t Shane’s doppelganger, it’s Eduard?
No, Evil Army is his doppleganger. Shane and Eduard will fight shoulder to shoulder
So Eduard is the Andorran Carpenter?
Is this screwing you up?
Nope– helping a lot.
I hadn’t thought a lot of things through, especially the bad guys
Because I can be overbearing. Not that you’ve noticed.
Gives me plenty to ruminate on. Going to look at a house in the morning which we’ve already decided against, and then spend the night in the mountains. I’m driving the last part of the Georgia Traverse south of Chattanooga then swinging over into the Smokies- probably stay at a nice spot I’ve stayed at before.
I get a lot of thinking done while driving
I do, too. I just don’t go anywhere any more.
I think what I’m going to do is block out the major beats of my romance plot.
And then figure out how the four subplots interact with those moves. That should get me past my block.
Yeah– I need to start looking at what needs to be straightened out now that I know who is who.
If you get the action plot blocked out, I can help with the relationship stuff. Or not, if you’ve had enough of my help.
Yeah. It gives me focus. As always loose ends will pop up. Plot is like a whack-a-mole. Everything looks good in your head, then you write it and go Whoa!
I know. That’s why there’s crying in fiction writing.
I’ll get the transcript into Word and then send it to you, in case you want to block out Evil Army, etc. for spoilers.
Appreciate it. Got a damn fire alarm somewhere in the house doing that low battery beep. Hate tracking that down.
I had one once that would not stop no matter what I did. I took it outside and beat it to death with a hammer.
Go and find your bliss/smoke alarm. I’ll put this in Word and send it to you.
Really appreciate the help– this gives me focus and direction. Stay safe!