Sorry, no Bethany today. Talked to her this morning and she's mired down in schoolwork and a teething baby. So I'm filling in today, and it's actually timely because I can't wait until Friday - my normal blog day - to seek the advice I need. (So thanks to Bethany for giving me her day today.)
Okay. I need help with the book I'm revising. Here's the main problem: This is a romantic suspense reunion story. The hero and heroine had an intense relationship four years before. At the end of it, she though he was involved in some criminal activities and because of something she witnessed, her life and those of her family members was in danger. She decided to go into hiding and faked her own death.
Fast forward four years. She needs something from the hero - something she sent him right before she went into hiding that he's about to sell. She decides to steal it back, only things don't go as she planned. A series of events happen, she's seen by the bad guys and she and the hero are once again thrust back together but are now on the run. Lots of emotional angst here - he thought she was dead; she thinks he was only with her years ago for her connections and that ultimately his involvement in this criminal activity is what put her life in danger. Both of them have lots of secrets they hid from the other originally, but for different reasons.
The problem I'm having is that when I got my revisions back from my agent she wanted two main things: One, she wanted my hero to be much more angry than he is. Which is fine. I can make him angry, in fact, that's how I originally had him written and then backed him off. Sort of made me feel good to hear her say that because it made me see my original instinct was right. The second main edit she wanted though is much harder: She wants more showing, less telling, and she wants to see evidence of their history together. That in order for the reader to understand the conflict between them - and the suspense conflict as well because it all ties together - I have to somehow "show" more of their past relationship.
This has left me scratching my head. A lot. Because this is a chase book, the hero and heroine are pretty much on scene, either alone or together a lot. There aren't a whole lot of secondary characters for either of them to confide in or have "ah-ha" moments with. The way it's written now, I have two brief flashbacks from their relationship - one when they met, and one when things turned to crap. I tried to incorporate some of their backstory into internals, to let some come out in conversation, but apparently there was too much of that. I've never been big on flashbacks, but I'm not entirely sure how else to do this. If anyone has any suggestions in this situation, I'd love to hear them.
I've read a lot of reunion stories - and I love them - but writing them is a whole other ball of wax for me. One I read started with a prologue that was the pivotal betrayal/breakup scene between the hero and heroine, then chapter one went back into the past and for the first four chapters showed their past relationship. Then at the end of that the book jumped ahead to the present and the ultimate suspense that came out of that betrayal/breakup. Another one I read that I really liked had a couple of tense "present day" suspense chapters to get you introduced to the characters, then the next chapter went back in time to show the growing relationship, then the following chapter jumped ahead to the present. This was an interesting way to do it, and though it sounds strange, I really liked it. I found myself reading the "present" chapters to see what was happening now, then intensely reading the "past" chapters to see what had happened in their relationship to make things turn so bad. By about the halfway point, the "past" relationship had played out and the author moved all into the present, but there were still a few questions from the past left unanswered that kept the reader looking, and those answers were eventually revealed when the hero and heroine finally had one of those "deep discussions."
So I know there are lots of ways to do this, I'm just stumped as to how to proceed. If any of you have any pearls of wisdom on this, I'm all ears. Alice keeps reminding me of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". How the hero and heroine had a past history that caused their romantic conflict, but that it didn't need to be explained for the audience to understand their problems. That's totally true, but when I looked back on that, I realized their past conflict didn't tie into the movie's current suspense plot, and mine does. Which takes me right back to where I was before - how do I "show" their history because it's so important to the present plot?