Issue Three is where the story really departed from what I initially intended the book to be. While I was in the outlining stage, I was spending most of my creative energy on coming up with what the ‘mystery’ of the book was going to be. I had the characters all down pat, but, desperately needed a maguffin to drive the story.
As it stood, he found Evelyn in Chapter Two, had the seizure and woke up in the hospital as written. But, the difference is that Evelyn doesn’t come back. He’s seen her, he’s seen how scared she is, and he knows that she’s in trouble. The problem was that there had to be some bit of happenstance that led Frank to get back on her trail, and out of the hospital. Everything that would make him run came off as too forced. I spent weeks wrestling with the story trying desperately to find that missing maguffin.
I was in a meeting with a Hollywood Producer type and was talking about the book. As I was pitching the story, I got to the loosey-goosey second act. The producer stopped me and asked where all my story confidence went. I told him that I was missing the maguffin still, and couldn’t get the story to flow properly. He asked a simple question. “Why?” I went on about the necessity of it for the genre, and how it’s the way these things are done, and so on. He stared at me and said, “He needs to find the girl and do the thing he couldn’t do to his wife. Protect her. That’s the maguffin.”
Sure enough, he was right. This was a story about a man being faced to look at his past mistakes and face them down one on one. As he flashes between reality and fantasy there’s one thing that grounds him in the now. Evelyn and the threat that she faces. Once I had that piece of the puzzle, I had the story.
I think that really comes through in the writing of this chapter, and each of the following chapters. I felt a confidence in the story that I didn’t quite have in the first two, because my story had found it’s driving force, and, Frank had found his purpose.