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Thread: OK, I'm torn.

  1. #1
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    OK, I'm torn.

    FAIR WARNING: Lengthy post. And, please, I welcome ALL input!!

    I'm torn between two plots at the moment. One, is near and dear to me. The other, I'm in the "getting acquainted" phase with. The one that's near and dear I have been TOLD is not very marketable. The other, perhaps a little more believable and thus marketable. Ya dig?

    Plot 1: My main female character is coping with the loss of her spouse, who committed suicide after discovering he had Huntington's Disease. He knew the prognosis, knew any kids born to them would carry the gene and decided it would just be better for all involved if he did himself in. Instead of forcing those he loved to watch his decline and suffering, and especially so the woman he loved could go on with her life and have the family she'd always dreamed of. At the beginning of the story, what would have been their eighth anniversary dawns and a friend invites her to spend the week with his family. Just to get out of town for a bit, a change of scene during such a difficult time. At this time, also, she is in the midst of a leave of absence from her job as a neonatologist. She took a few weeks off after the incident, went back, and one of her patients -- we'll say, for sake of argument, a child born preemie and drug addicted -- died. She couldn't handle it, so she cleaned out her locker, handed in her LOA paperwork, and left. So, while spending time at her friend's place, she meets the friend's next door neighbor who is 1) twenty years older than her and 2) who, some years before, dealt with the sudden loss of his spouse (car accident is what I'm leaning toward). These experiences draw them to each other, primarily because they are relative strangers to each other's lives and sometimes it's easier to unload to someone who's a bit detatched from the trauma. You don't feel like you're forcing them to hear a broken record. So, as they bond as friends, it turns into something deeper. Despite the age difference; despite the fact that she is a blue blood and he is a professor of English at a local university who had to work for everything he's got; despite a lot of things I haven't come up with yet. Are there obstacles along the way? Yes. There are fellow blue bloods who feel like she's making a mistake because of the love interest's age and station. There are people in her life who feel like she's making a mistake because she's always wanted kids and this guy may/may not be down for that sort of thing. And perhaps someone else come along that IS more her age, that she has a lot in common with who, on the surface, appears to be a more viable option. But she doesn't feel . . . home with him.

    Plot #2: Not as much on this one yet, because I haven't thought about it quite as much. Same character, same backstory, only instead of taking and LOA and just languishing in her life, she takes up another trade. Perhaps as a chef at a local upscale restaurant, because she's always liked cooking and is really good at it. So one day, the new chief of staff for the hospital goes to the restaurant, eats, and asks to speak with the chef. She comes out, he introduces herself, he IDs himself, and he invites her to sit. He tells her he's read her file, mentions reports about her in the press of the work she did while at the hospital, etc. He asks her to come back, she refuses, says she happy doing what she's doing. The worst that happens is that she cuts herself or a souffle collapses. She doesn't have to watch a child die because the mother decided smack was more important than nurturing the life within her belly. Pleasantries exchanged, she walks away. Later that evening, when she's leaving work, she sees him standing outside the restaurant. That's when he informs her that the parents of a former patient, one perhaps with Trisomy-13 (which, if you read about it, is bad stuff. i believe it's almost always fatal), want to donate 8M dollars to the hospital's NICU . . . if, and only if, the main character returns. Though their kid's life was short, they felt she made it the best it could possibly be. And they want to return the favor to the hospital. But only if she's in the NICU again. So now, she feels guilted into it. Begrudgingly she returns. It's difficult at first, and she wants to run away again. But he is there to help her and support her. A friendship/mentorship develops and the lines start to get blurry. And he has to decide if he's willing to relinquish the position he's worked so hard for to have a relationship with someone 20 years his junior.

    OK, I need some input. And I apologize for the length. And if anything is confusing or unclear, please let me know. It's almost supper time, the sugar is dropping, so things get a little . . . fuzzy! Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Unless she's either got restaurant experience or went to culinary school she's not going to get a job as a chef in an upscale place. Not even as a sou chef; at best, she'll be an apprentice, a trainee or possibly an intern. I don't care how good you are as a home cook, it's a whole different world in a professional kitchen. I know because I spent over a dozen years in my family's pizza place and later worked in others. That's not to say that your second plot wouldn't work, it would as long as you make her new situation a tad more believable. In fact, I'd prefer the second because it starts out by showing her trying to make a new life for herself instead of having her stuck in her misery.

  3. #3
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    Jennifer,

    The good news....they both look good. You seem to have a good handle on the emotional motivations for both plotlines. I don't know what factors led someone to tell you one of the plots isn't marketable. I don't see a big difference marketability wise. Both seem like either a sophisticated love story or romance, depending on execution.

    Don't know how far along you are, but I'd encourage you to just let the characters do what they want to do and see where you end up. You may even find yourself combining aspects of both. Don't box yourself in too much.

  4. #4
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    Well, I shared the first with an editor on another board and she insisted on driving figurative humvees through nearly everything! Kept throwing out the words "Harlequin material" which is NOT, repeat NOT, the direction I want to take. I don't want to write material that is primarily only good for helping someone get their rocks off.

    This is good input. Please, keep it coming!

  5. #5
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    Jennifer, I think the difference between a love story and a category romance isn't so much in the broad strokes of the plot, but in the execution.

  6. #6
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    Well, I shared the first with an editor in another forum and she basically drove figurative humvees all over it and then (gulp!) threw out the phrase "Harlequin Romance material." And then, I just saw red! That is SO not what I want!!!!!

  7. #7
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    Sorry about the dupe response. My computer is acting stupid!

  8. #8
    Amy Lou
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    Hi Jennifer, I'm no expert! LOL But the first plot draws me in more than the second. Maybe you have two different novels, different characters of course. Good luck!

  9. #9
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    Yeah, Amy, I prefer the first, too. It's simple but I feel like it's good. I have read plenty of simple books that I thought were fantastic (and so did others, for why would they have ended up on best seller lists?). But maybe I am biased.

  10. #10
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    Well, I have to be honest here, so brace yourself, I'm about to rain on the parade.

    Plot 1: It seemed fairly predictible, no interesting twists and nothing new. The MC's main problem appears to be that she has some issues getting over her dead patient and misgivings about marrying the English professor - who wouldn't have reservations about a man 20 years her senior? Nothing fresh there. The more interesting plot might be one about the man with the Huntingtons' disease and the wrenching emotions he goes through. Or maybe the English professor has some secret that spices up the plot.

    Plot 2: This one seemed very far-fetched. I can't imagine an MD who probably has loans to pay back and years of grueling training deciding to toss it all and become a chef. She would go into something like research or teaching or may do the chef stuff on the side. And the part about the parents of the dead kid conditioning their donation on her return is, frankly, not credible.

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