Everything is coming together: characters, setting, story and plot. I’ve even figured out the dramatic tension. However, one thing still hangs in the balance: What should I do about Paul?
He could be on the lam, which would point to his guilt. Or he could be sitting in prison and eager to tell his side of the story – or proclaim his innocence. Neither seems satisfactory.
Or Paul could be silent.
He could be in prison or a hospital and refuse to talk to Janelle, but the reader would know his thoughts.
Or he could be seriously injured and unable to talk. He could be in a coma. He could dream and the reader would have to tease out reality from drug-induced fantasy. From that, the reader would have to determine Paul’s guilt or innocence.
Perhaps Paul won’t communicate at all. We’ll learn about him from what his friends and family tell us (and don’t tell us). We’ll draw conclusions. But we might never know for sure if Paul committed the terrorist acts of which he is accused.
What do you think I should do with Paul?
Lots of good ideas for Paul, but I have to confess that I loathe narratives that take place in hospitals. They’re so uninteresting and depressing. You have to get into medical jargon. The decor is the epitome of predictable. Stasis evermore.
I also think that it’s always better to have a talkative protagonist. So many more possibilities.
Knowing his internal monologue is important.
The hospital scene would be a quick one near the end when Janelle still has questions she wishes Paul could answer. I’ve been struggling with how to show Paul’s state of mind and am debating as to whether I ever fully do. We’ll draw conclusions about him through what people tell (and withhold from) Janelle. I’m not sure that I want readers to know him completely – and they can’t if we don’t see what he’s thinking – but they will know him better than Janelle who, although perceptive, can’t know what people aren’t saying. Those unanswered questions speak to how well we truly know our friends and family members.
The protagonist of my novella, which is a reworking of my master’s thesis, is more transparent, but I felt that he got a little preachy in his conversations with his friend. I’ve put that aside momentarily to look at it with fresh eyes. People I asked to pre-read it wanted to know more about my two female characters, so I want to develop them a little more fully when, like you, I walk away at the end of the year from a perfectly good writing career to focus on these and other personal projects. I’ll do some freelance work to eek by, as I’m not a magician.