Krissie bought me a pack of colored Sharpies the last time she was here and I’ve been working them like crazy, trying to track the echoes in Nita. “Echoes” is not a technical term, but “motif” isn’t right for this and repetition is too general. What I’m talking about here, folks, is a scene that recurs, shifting each time to arc a character or plot point. For example . . .
The Breakfast Scenes: Nick and Nita meet at 1AM on Tuesday and trouble ensues; seven hours later they meet again at the diner where they’re both having breakfast and Nick sits down with her to find out what she knows. During that breakfast, they get to know each other a little better and like each other, and then big trouble happens at the end of it and they’re both afraid for each other and the relationship has shifted. On Wednesday, they wake up together (platonically) and have breakfast in his apartment, repeating a lot of the actions (and food) from the previous day while dealing with new information and an antagonist while Jeo and Rab wander in and out, foreshadowing a team. On Thursday, they all meet for breakfast at the diner again, but this time it’s Nick, Nita, Rab, and Jeo, and then Max and Button show up, and they make plans for the day which get blown up immediately afterward.
I still have Friday and Saturday to go, but I dropped breakfast. I had a three beat, what the hell. Except they wouldn’t stop having breakfast, so attention must be paid. So on Friday, when Nick wakes up and has no idea who Nita is and leaves the room yelling for Jeo, Nita has to call after him, “What, no breakfast?” and then think she kind of misses it later that day. Easy fix. But then on Saturday, I need a new normal, so in spite of the fact that I have to cut a zillion words from thing, I am going to have to do something about that Saturday breakfast. Because there’s an echo, and waiting for the echo is like waiting for the other shoe to drop: upsetting if it doesn’t happen.
There are other echoes–Nick and Nita working together hit a rhythm of breaking into places, splitting the bad guy’s attention, getting information, and then taking out the bad guy, so that’s fun–but the key is to keep it light so that it’s under the radar–you don’t want readers thinking “Oh, hell, there’s another damn breakfast scene, I get it, I GET IT”–but still rhythmic to set up expectation.
And also to cut about a hundred pages because the book is too long already. Sigh. But all will be well because I have the colored Sharpies Krissie got me. Colored Sharpies and graph paper can solve ANYTHING.