The opening scene of any story should be (if I’m writing it, your mileage may differ) the transition from the stable world into the unstable. That doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory at the beginning of the scene, there can be a lot of trouble, but it’s the usual trouble, nothing new, the protagonist’s world is still working the way he or she expects it to. And then Something Happens that turns the stable world into an unstable one. So in the beginning, Nita is sick and drunk, but that’s nothing extraordinary, people get sick and drunk in the real world all the time. She has a new partner who doesn’t approve of her, but again, no red flags that the world is suddenly going to be different. But then Mort tells her Joey’s dead and the Devil’s in the bar, and while she doesn’t believe him about the Devil, she knows that all the little things that have been telling her that something bad is going on have just become concrete. Now she has to find out what’s happening because her safe island is no longer safe. This is the day that is different. Nick’s been pulling together all the reports from his agents and spent the day looking into Vinnie’s bar and the island in general, which is what he does, and he’s inexorably closing in on finding his agents and closing the gate; that’s his normal world. Then Joey’s killed and he knows that means there must be something bigger going on. He pushes harder, trying to keep Rab from destroying the island while interrogating Vinnie, alert now that he knows the island is not the safe space it seems to be. Then Nita walks in. This is the day that is different. So that’s what these two scenes have to set up, two people determined to do their jobs which in this instance is “keep the island safe,” realizing that today is different and things are much worse than they’d thought. Yes, I know those aren’t the scenes you read before. This is why we analyze and rewrite, people. You think I do this stuff for fun? Okay, yeah, I do it because it’s fun because I’m a wonk but also because it makes a much, much better book. How much better? If you go to jennifercrusie.com and click on the About tab, and then click on “Drafting Nita Dodd,” you’ll find drafts for the opening scene from February, April, August and December of 2016 and then this truck draft from March of 2017. Why anybody would want to read five drafts of the same scene is beyond me, but you can skim the first one and then read the latest one to get an idea of how far we’ve come. I mean, I’m impressed, and I wrote this stuff. Writing is rewriting, people. Never forget.