Remember how slow the first double scene sequence was? Yes, I’m cutting it, but now we have another one: After breakfast, Nita and Nick go to work because that’s logically where they’d go. Unfortunately that’s boring. The solution: Make sure there’s lots of conflict and cut as much as possible.
But I also have to make sure that Nick and Nita are in each other’s scenes by at least name-checking; that is, they both have to constantly come up against evidence of each other’s actions on the island so they’re each present in each other’s story line. Whether this is romance or just has a romance subplot, it’s just too late in the act to not hit both of them in the same scene, especially given how intertwined their investigations are.
And there are other things this section has to accomplish like the characters I have to foreshadow, people who are going to show up in Act Two (remember Lenny?) who aren’t in Act One. They have to be mentioned (if you’re writing a Crusie; your rules may differ), so this is my last chance to get the humans all salted in here–demons get mentioned in the next section–before the final section which is all action.
That means this section has the same problem that the third section (Nita at home with her assassin demon, Nick in his apartment with his minion demons) had: the two protagonists are apart doing things that aren’t that interesting to the reader who, I’m assuming, would rather see people (I include demons as people) in action. So again, that means that this section has to move fast and involve interesting people in conflict while uncovering new information that captures the reader’s interest. This section is necessary to set up the last two parts which are going to cork along at a good clip because we’re close to the place where all the set-up is done and nothing but the action is left.
So how to make Nita’s section fun? First, make her scenes as short as possible; this is Nick’s sequence (she got the first one). Then:
• Show Nita at risk and in conflict with her boss.
• Show Nita and Button moving into a closer relationship through action as they find out interesting things about Nick, first in Button’s PoV and then the next scene in Nita’s. Their conflict is very low key, but they’re discussing Nick and it’s short, so I’m going to try to skate that past you all; then the next scene has Jason who wants them to stop investigating Joey’s death, and who introduces them to his new partner making this Nita vs Jason. This stuff is still low stakes so it has to move fast. .
• Then show Nita trying to find Nick and finding out he’s ahead of her, ending up back at the bar where he goes missing, then set up a new mystery as a hook into the next section. Even though Nick isn’t in this section, he’s working almost as an antagonist because everywhere she goes, he’s either anticipated her, or the mention of his name makes things harder for her. So this begins with a montage of frustration for Nita as a transition and then ends up with Nita vs. Vinnie, who has become Team Nick, for awhile at least.
And then there are Nick’s scenes. I was going to give him this sequence, but as it turns out, it has to start with Nita. Nick spends too much time talking with Mort in the diner, while Nita goes straight to work.:
• Show Nick in conflict with the Mayor and getting a feel for how the most powerful guy on the island operates.
• Show Nick in conflict with Vinnie who has an Idea.
• Show Nick dealing with the women at the historical society while trying to get key information about the history of the island without betraying that the founders were demons.. This one is tricky because back story = boring, so I really needed to hit personalities and conflict to keep the focus of the story in the now.
• Show Nick discovering something key in another place and then hitting an abrupt shift into the next section. Yeah, it’s a cliffhanger, so this is more of a transition than a scene.
Then splice the two sequences back together and try to set up transitions between them.
So at the end of these sequences, both Nita and Nick are angry, and then Nick gets Part Six which makes him angrier. They clash at the beginning of Part Seven which leads them to the crisis scene, which starts to make Nita come undone up to the last scene where she loses it. They’re forced to work together because of the crisis scene and finally driven into partnership because of the climax.
So by this point in the act, the only place I’m weak on conflict is in this double scene sequence. (And the previous one, but I’m going to fix that in the paper edit. Stay tuned.). Off to annoy my characters now. Thank god the next section is already done in parallel scenes and only needs cut back a little, which I am sure you will help with in the comments. .
These double scene sequences are killers.