I’m not sure why it’s so hard to get the protagonist right. After all, she’s the character the story’s built on, she should be the no-brainer in the bunch. But possibly because I’m so closely connected to her–she’s my best friend while I’m writing the book–and because I don’t want to hurt her–throw rocks at that woman, Jenny–or because I’m viewing the plot so closely through her PoV, I have a heck of a time getting any distance on her. Which means that common sense is my friend. That is, I look at what she’s doing and ask myself, “Is this what a normally intelligent person would do in this situation?” Then I look at the pressures of the situation–a normally intelligent person does not rush into a burning building, but my protagonist would to save her dog–and at her character arc and try to go from there. What I’m trying to figure out now is how long it would take Nita, an intelligent cop, to accept that the supernatural is real. As a resident of Demon Island, she’d be surrounded by fake demon and Hell things all the time. People would be cosplaying as demons and devils and angels. There’s a fake Church of Satan (mainly there for the church store) and a whole amusement park with Hell-ish spectacle and theater, much of it done with special effects. She’d have been bombarded with the concept that Hell is fake from birth. Plus any amusement park is rife with conmen of one kind or another, not to mention the run-of-the-mill drunk jokers. She’d have seen it all. My question is, at what point does she just have to give up and say, “The supernatural is real.” And at that point, does she accept that it’s ALL real, or just take the things that are in front of her as real? “I don’t believe in Hell, but that thing that just happened is not natural.” One thing that helps is that she’s drunk for the first seven scenes (about a two-hour time frame; she starts with four hot toddies and then has another one about an hour in), so I do believe she’d chalk a lot of what she sees up to that. She also knows that she has mini-seizures and hallucinates briefly when she seizes, so she’s used to seeing things that aren’t there in a much more restricted way. But at some point, she’s going to just have to accept that there’s a whole world of things out there that she’s going to have to cope with or decide she’s going nuts and that nothing is real. Obviously, we’re going with Option A, but still, since the readers are going to know from the second scene that the supernatural is real, at what point do they say, “Oh, come on,” when she still denies it? I think I’m good for the seven scenes where she’s drunk. Then there’s a scene at breakfast where she talks to Nick, still trying to figure out why he’s pushing this dumb story. Then she goes to the morgue where a body disappears, and it’s her second disappearing body which Nick explains as a demon thing. I’m good there with the second one–a body being stolen from a morgue is entirely within the realm of the possible–and the body that disappeared the night before happened while she was sobering up, although there were witnesses. Then she does a lot of entirely routine investigating, ending up back at the bar where Nick is acting very strangely (not to the readers who know he’s just been to Hell and back) and she takes him to a crime scene where Mort shows him a box that can’t be opened, and Nick opens it, and what’s in there is pretty irrefutably supernatural . . . except she only gets a glimpse before Nick slams the lid back on so it can’t get out. Then there’s other stuff that could still have an explanation, albeit she’s reaching pretty far, and then something happens that is just not possible, followed by something else that’s really horrible and not possible, followed by a really bad hallucination which is followed by two more things that aren’t possible. And then it’s night and Nick pours scupper down her until she falls asleep and in the morning with the sun shining she tries to tell herself that there’s a logical explanation for everything,even though she knows there can’t be, because if it’s all true then her life is irrevocably changed and she’s not at all who she thought she was, and then one more thing happens and she says, “Fuck it, you’re the Devil Elect, they’re demons, what the Hell is going on here?” and the first act ends and the team begins. I THINK all of that is logical. What I’m worried about is that readers won’t, that they’ll look at how she’s interpreting everything and think, “How blind can you get?” and dismiss her as Too Dumb To Live (the TDTL heroine). On the other hand, if she accepts the supernatural too soon, she’ll seem credulous, and also TDTL. Her brother Mort already believes so she’s likely to discount him the way people discount UFO believers. Button is very logical and realistic, but she’s not seeing most of the stuff that Nita sees, so she’s not much help. And Nick and the others are the ones pushing the supernatural explanation, so she’s not going to be able to go to them for help in refuting the possibility. She’s really caught between the people who haven’t seen what she’s seen and therefore don’t believe and the people who keep telling her they’re supernatural and are therefore suspect. So it’s a mess. Back to rewriting.