I am lucky to have a critique partner who is a fantastic writer who happens to think like an editor. He comes up with lots of ideas for me and gives me things to think about every time he gives me feedback. WHICH IS FANTASTIC. But this week, he said something that has turned my world all upside down again. John doesn't see how the stuff with Kendall relates to Seth's main arc regarding his dead friend Isaac. And, in his opinion, the Kendall stuff just keeps getting more and more away from the main problem here. (FYI: the main thing Kendall brings early on is regret for Seth. He woke up in bed with her after getting trashed. He remembers NOTHING about it, and it bugs him for many reasons that I won't get into here, but trust me, they are complex.)
I don't disagree with John. I mean, I think it all does connect, but loosely.
John suggested that it might be a good idea to change Kendall's role in the story. To have her be Isaac's girlfriend or ex-girlfriend or something. Because that will pull her right into the arc and make her an important part of the journey instead of just a divergence. And, it also makes for a different (and stronger) kind of tension in every one of Seth and Kendall's scenes.
I just re-read my opening scenes with the mindset that Kendall was Isaac's on-again-off-again girlfriend. I have to say, it really, really did up the tension.
The original line about how much things suck for Seth lately: ...remembering that I’d lost my virginity the night before to a girl I couldn’t stand...
When you take out "girl I couldn't stand" and put in "my friend's girlfriend" (or whatever), well, that really does change everything. It makes you feel Seth's disgust and regret so much more somehow.
Changing Kendall the character changes the feel of many scenes because instead of Kendall disliking Isaac and being almost indiffent to his death (as it is currently written), Seth would instead have to wonder what she's really thinking, how she can act so cold about someone she is supposed to have cared about. It really gives Kendall depth and makes her more sympathetic, I think. Because clearly she's behaving the way she's behaving for different reasons than what you might expect.
I don't know. I almost think I'm ready to make the change in my mind, so I can keep moving forward knowing that I'll have to do some pretty big clean up when I go finish. I wish I knew if this is the right change to make. There are certainly good and bad points to whatever I decide. But the main bad point seems just to be that it will be more work. And that really shouldn't be my determining factor. Especially if the change will be better for the story as a whole.