Topic: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

This is a thread to comment The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Dear Suin:

You’re right. I write the way you do. I have first a general idea of the story, mainly how it starts and how it ends, and more or less a blurry image of what’s going on in between, and then I start writing. I fine-tune the story once the first draft is complete, filling gaps and holes, and maybe even modifying already-written chapters, accommodating them to any change made. So, the “Where Heaven and Hell Meet” first draft you read is still subject of changes and fine tuning.

My characters don’t talk to me either, as Rhiannon’s characters talk to her. Typically, I craft the story as I commute. It’s a 30-minute drive from home to my work (and another 30 minutes back) when I’m in Mexico and a 40-45 minute drive when I’m in New Jersey, so there’s plenty of time to imagine—I also listen to audiobooks while commuting, currently I’m listening Snow Crash.

I asked because, back in November, you told us you were kinda stuck with The Best Laid Plans, and that was the reason you were devoting your time to Being Fifteen second part, and to The Girl by the Canal (which I still need to read). So, I wondered whether you had a general plan of The Best Laid Plans or whether you were inventing the story as you wrote it. Mainly, I was curious, because I always wonder about other author’s creative process.



Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

That's exactly how I do it too! I usually just get a small idea, and whenever I'm not doing anything that requires brain power (commuting, yoga, showering, etc.), my mind inevitably starts planning what's happening next.

I'm still having problems with Sarah's story because, even though it's written out in the first draft, I don't like where the story went and am having trouble making the chapters any good, but no better ideas have come to me yet so I haven't changed direction.

Other authors have very complicated plot plans. I saw JK Rowlings somewhere online, and it's really complex in how she plotted all of the main scenes and subplots, which clearly worked really well for her, but everyone's different.

I was reading about Judy Blume recently and she said she can write up to 20 drafts of the same chapter. Her writing is so on point, that all of her editing and more editing must really pay off!  So, that's what I'm trying to do (but maybe 2 or 3, not 20!)

4 (edited by rhiannon 2017-01-13 01:48:05)

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Oh, you guys.  Just do as Hemingway did--start at the beginning, go to the end and stop.  He got the idea from the Red King in Alice in Wonderland, and it clearly works. lol

By the way, Gacela, what is your opinion of "Snow Crash?"  I've never read it, but feel I have, as rumor has it that Phillip Linden was inspired to create Second Life by reading it, and I'm involved with Second Life.  I do philosophy lectures there. (And they say a Ph.D. in philosophy is only good for bartending. lol).

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

They say a Ph.D. in philosophy is only good for bartending. They might be right.

You are in Second Life? I should have guessed, because your image clearly is a SL avatar.  I'm in SL too, even though I'm not often on line. But if you are there, I'd love to attend your philosophy lectures. Let’s contact!

In Snow Crash, there is a virtual world much like SL, called the Metaverse. The story takes place in the real world, and only some parts of it in the Metaverse. However, it is implied tons of people hang in the Metaverse. Snow Crash characters dive in the Metaverse deeper than people dive in SL because they use googles, meaning they can only see what's going on there, divorcing from RL for a while. You cannot teletransport in the Metaverse, you need to use a mean of transportation such as a car, a bike, or use the monorail. There are clubs, and pubs, and you can have your own house, or rent one. Pretty much like SL.

I strongly recommend Snow Crash to those fond of cyberpunk or, at least, fond of technology and gadgets. The story takes place in a near future (no specific year is mentioned). Technology is much like the one we have now: laptops, mobiles, tablets, etc. iPhones are not mentioned, because they haven't been invented when the story was written and the author never envisioned smart phones. There’s other technology that doesn’t exists, but that might, like scanners capable of learning your underwear brand, how much change you’re carrying in your pockets, and the like.

The society is quite different, though, and this is the very interesting part of the story. According to Snow Crash, central governments had yielded their power to corporations (an ever-present element in cyberpunk literature). Governments had even yielded territory. California is no longer part of the USA. Instead, there are franchises, extension of land where people live and work, property of quasi-national entities--for practical purposes, independent countries. Like "Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong". Some are as small as a cul-de-sac. Some are as wide as half Los Angeles. Highways are private property. Once you leave the highway and enter a franchise, you must pass through migration and customs. Security is outsourced, so the police are outsourcing companies hired by the quasi-national entities (e.g. "The Enforcers", “The Meds”). If you're arrested, you are taken to a jail that is franchise, and trialed at a judicial franchise.

The story is about Hiro Protagonist,  an unemployed hacker, and his friend, 15 year-old Y.T., who works as a courier. Since it takes hours to drive L.A. permanently jammed highways, and the author never thought of email, the only way to make sure mail, and anything else, is delivered fast within Los Angeles, is hiring a courier. The couriers, usually teenagers, go everywhere on their skateboards, without worrying about traffic.

The story involves a crazy millionaire a la Donald Trump who tries to rule the world, and Hiro Protagonist and Y.T. saving the day, aided by Los Angeles Italian Mafia, another franchise dedicated, among other dirty businesses, to delivering pizza in less than 30 minutes or it is free. In the latter case, the mafia godfather, Uncle Enzo himself, would call you to apologise for your late pizza delivery.

I've already read about 2/3 of Snow Crash and I strongly recommend it. The plot flows a bit slowly, and it is because the rich world building. The story is heavily sarcastic and a deep critique to our modern society. I'm sure that, particularty you Rachel, will enjoy this story a lot.



6 (edited by Sheriff Norm 2017-01-13 07:17:40)

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Suin, You make a lot of mistakes in writing, so editing is good. It helps you zero in on things when you have an open mind. That you have. Despite your natural talent you keep an open mind to make it better.  That's wonderful. And reviewing other people's works let you see what they are doing wrong, too, including me.
A story has its own life. He/She/it demands to go here or there. If you are having a problem with Sarah, keep reading it over and over and until the idea comes where to take it from here. Don't distrust the story. Don't Think the story is leading you the wrong direction. it is going a certain way because it is.  You only need to break some mentality that is keeping you away from following the story and then you can  follow it willingly. it is a great story. Trust it.

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Hi Suin:  You now have Hugh kidnap Sarah, and are wondering how she escapes?  Have Jack contact his friend in Black OPs, organize a raid.  They find her, but by the time they get there, Sarah has already organized a rebellion among the victims of the human traffickers.  But as Sarah's friend, the computer whiz, (which you will just have to go back and introduce), makes sure that the team can get back home, Sarah's sister throws a light grenade that simulates the radiation of a yellow sun, thus restoring Sarah's powers in the nick.  No wait, that was the plot of the last Supergirl episode I watched.  Nevermind.

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Hi Suin:

I read your answer to my comments to your chapter 24 v.0 (before you rewrote it, adding Sarah's part. BTW, TNBW says it's chapter 24, but in your title, it says CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE). Because I've already reviewed the new version, I know you enriched it considering some of my observations. It's nice to confirm one's observations have been useful to a fellow writer smile.

I wonder: exactly where are you going with this story? I think it makes no harm to spoil the story to your Close Friends, as long as the spoilers are useful when we review your next chapters. I'll elaborate:

As per your own comment, when you originally conceived this story, you didn't want to write yet another story of a kidnapped girl, so you preferred to focus on the family and their reactions, thus narrating from their POV,  rather than on Sarah and what was going on with her.

I wonder... what is this story about? I thought it was about Sarah and her personal struggle. If so,  in my opinion, the reader needs to read about what's happening to her and how she's suffering captivity at Hugh's side and, eventually, how she gets free--if she ever gets free.

On the other hand, if the story is about Sarah's family, then writing from the family's POV is right. Or if the story is about how Sarah’s relationship to her family and friends changed because of what happened to her. In this second case, writing from her family’s or her friends’ POV the right thing to do too.

My personal feeling was that the story had lost a lot of punch when you only focused on the family. Because “the family” is no particular character but several of them, the reader was not connecting with any specific character. Thus, the reader was not caring about any character. With no connection to any character, and the connection with Sarah lost, at least partially, the story lost its punch. I.e., as a reader, I was longer engaged after my "character-friend" disappeared. I don't give a damn for Sarah's mother, father, or siblings (the story never followed them, so I'm not aware of their lives). Not ever for Claire, who I find a bit annoying. I do care for Alicia, but maybe it's only because I read Being 15 first, so don't give much weight to this last observation. I do care for Jack in his literary role as Claire's true--and rightful--love interest.

Now, the above are my reactions as a reader. Which are yours, as a writer? Let's go back to your original plan, before my and the Sheriff's observation made you think twice about the plot: Where did the plot lead to? How did it work? I've just read again Chapter 1, the one serving as an introduction when Sarah comes back after what seems many years. Did you want to focus only on Sarah missing and suddenly coming back, and the ensuing reactions at home? Was that your idea?

I'm asking because, whatever I'd like Sarah to do and become, and wherever I'd like the plot to lead to, it's your story, not mine. You can certainly change it  if you wish to do so  after listening to your beta readers' suggestions, but I'd also like to learn what is/was your plan in order to give you my best-possible advice based on your idea  ("your idea" in italics for greater emphasis, but I dunno how to put italics in this forums), not on based on the story I'd like to read. Considering the above, I don't think it'll hurt if you summarise your story/plot. In that way, I'll be in a better position to understand your intentions as a writer and view the story from your standpoint. However, feel free to say "no, I won't advance the story" if you prefer to keep gathering my (and other readers' reading this thread) spontaneous reactions.

By the way, I don't think Sarah behaved weak not having an abortion. She was very brave and I would have done the same. Back when I was 19, a crappy, pregnancy test at home gave me a false positive, and a stupid period that came ages late (I understand now there was some psychological thingie that delayed it given the circumstances) seemed to confirm it. I struggled for the next three weeks wondering whether to have an abortion, but I finally decided I wouldn't because it was a crime, because it was not right, because it was my responsibility, because it was not the baby's fault and he deserved to live, despite how stupid I might have behaved when conceiving him/her, and because my religion and my god prohibit it (not necessarily in the right order of priorities). Then I went to my mum's doctor (who is now also mine, but back then I didn't have a gynaecologist), he ordered a blood test that came out negative, and two days after that the stupid period decided to show up. I wasn’t pregnant. I only though I was.

So, I've been in Sarah's shoes, sitting by the coast waiting for the ferry to depart and wondering whether to board it. It’s damn difficult to make the decision. In my case, there were no consequences because I was not pregnant. Had I gone to a hospital to have an abortion (I dunno how I would have done it without my parents learning about the pregnancy) they would have told me I was not pregnant so no abortion could be done. However, that’s not the point. The point is I decided NOT to have an abortion when I still though I was pregnant. As John Hamler put it on other thread, you need brass balls to make that kind of decisions. And to strongly believe in your beliefs (if I’m allowed to express it this way. Rachel will for sure correct me if I’ve just wrongly used the English language). Is not an easy decision, and no weak person can decide to keep the baby (which is actually the difficult decision because it’s the one changing your life). The easiest thing to do is to kill the baby (what the hell? The baby won’t complain, will she?) and keep on with your life, business as usual. So, please, don’t take me wrong. Sarah proved to be a very strong person when she decided to keep her babies.

It’s in other order of events that Sarah behaved weak (in my opinion). She married Hugh, a man she didn’t truly love but with whom she was only in love (we can discuss what means to be in love and what true love means; for me there are deep differences: a teenager is in love with each and every of the gazillion boyfriends she has while she’s in high school, but not truly in love with any of them, if I’m explaining myself), a man who had dazzled her but nothing else. She married him because her mum wanted her to do so, more based in social conventions than on important reasons. She could have had the babies and start working as a professional ballerina to support them, but she didn’t. She went to live with a man who had evidently lied to her, even though he preferred to turn a blind eye towards the fact. She allowed herself to fall into post-partum depression, only because it was the easiest way to escape. That’s why I say she has behaved weak.

The above is another reason why I want to understand where are you going with your story, because I might have misjudged the MC and may be proving the wrong advice, which I don’t want to.

One last comment: Hugh is the bad guy here. Make sure he has a reason why. I mean, people are not mean just because. Apparently, it’s easier for Hugh to dump Sarah than to keep her against her will, so, there seem to be few reasons why he keeps insisting. Of course, he might be a kinda psycho who relishes on Sarah saying she loves him when she doesn’t. In that case, make sure he IS a psycho. Otherwise, a mean guy who is mean only for the sake of being mean, like the bad guy in tonnes of soap operas, simply doesn’t hold water and will turn him into an unbelievable character. You don’t need to explicitly explain what the hell is going on inside this brain, it’s enough if you hint it. So far, lemme tell you what I’ve understand from the hints given so far: the guy likes Sarah, but he’s not necessarily in love with her, maybe he likes to control people, even though the latter is not super clear. He’s into some dirty business, probably drugs, white slave traffic, or something of the sort. If he’s the controlling type, then I think you need to write a coupla scenes, not necessarily about Sarah, where he is shown to be greed of control, and thus his ways with Sarah are explained (he treats her like something of his own rather than like a person).

Finally, how about the babies? Is he a caring father or are they only the key to controlling Sarah? This is very important because it will not only further explain Hugh’s behaviour, but will set definite, underlying character traits that will turn him into a tri-dimensional entity.

Wow! Such a large comment. Hope it’s useful.



Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Your comment was so useful that i didn't write back immediately because i've been mulling over it ever since.
Ok, to start with, here are the thoughts of the person i was about 10 years so when i wrote this draft.
Everything is the same as i've published, up to when Hugh kidnaps her. At first, i had it only through Sarah's POV and had her trapped in an apartment by Hugh with no escape, and with him using the babies as blackmail. She discovers that he's a drug lord, with people all over the world forming a drug chain under his control. She also finds out that he was given a warning for stalking girls as a teenager, and even given a restraining order and an order to seek mental health support for kidnapping a girl who broke up with him. What did all these girls have in common? They look very similar to his mother who ignored him growing up and sent him away to boarding schools alone. Eventually, Jack finds out where Sarah is and rescues her, and they hide in witness protection until Hugh dies from an overdose and they can return home. Jack found her through Alicia, who had become a huge star (kind of Amy Winehouse style of music). Sarah managed to escape when she found out Alicia was doing a concert in a nearby city, and caught Alicia's attention.
When publishing the second draft of this online, i was ten years older and kind of fed up with repetitive cliched stories of women kidnapped by obsessive men, and wanted to change the story by putting it into the POV of the people she'd left behind, but quickly found out this didn't work through the feedback from reviewers.
Now i'm thinking of cutting it back, all the way to where Sarah was sitting on a rock by the red lighthouse, watching the boat sail by, while making her decision about abortion. Since we will finally have a referendum in Ireland next year on abortion (right now, the fetus in Ireland has more rights than the mother, ie. doctors would allow the mother to die in order not to kill an unborn child. also women who's babies won't survive birth have to carry their baby to the full nine months anyway. if at three months, you know your baby won't survive delivery, you still have to carry it another six months. it's awful) anyway, i think the story could have more impact in the light of the changes going on in Ireland right now, and am wondering what i can do to make the story connect with today's political environment. i have some ideas, but don't want to jump right in with rewrites until i have the full picture.
i also don't want to abandon the original version of the story, so i'm between two minds right now & is the reason why i've been kinda quiet on this site lately...

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

The above is quite interesting. I'll meditate is as well and will tell you what I think.

By the way, now I'm reading Rebecca, I'm finding Sarah has many character traits borrowed from the second Mrs. De Winter. Sarah is not her Xerox copy, of course Sarah isn't, but in several ways both are quite alike. Just an observation.



Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin


I must clarify my comment, because I made it the wrong way, so you didn't understand it. My bad.

What I am suggesting is not that you narrate The Best Laid Plans from Alicia's POV. You're right, it would never work. What I'm saying is that you write a separate story about Alicia. A story that takes place at the same time as The Best Laid Plans and crosses over.  At some point in this story, we read the same scene at the party and how Alicia breaks Jack + Claire relationship. Then Alicia disappears but, of course, because this separate story focuses on her, the reader follows her and her adventures.

Just a thought, maybe because I love Alicia soooo very much.



Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Hi Everyone,

I finally posted the final chapter of 'The Best Laid Plans'! Finally!! You guys know that writing the second half was a huge struggle because I didn't like the direction of the story anymore, but I took the Sheriff's advice and just slogged on with the initial story! So, what next? I dunno! Keep editing and improving, I guess! Thanks to you all who provided support & thanks Rhiannon for being the first to finish reviewing it! smile

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Hi Suin...

The answer to your other question is "Yes, an export is possible". Send me your Email and I'll explain

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Dear Suin:

I was afraid you had abandoned the site! I tried to upload this review and your works were blocked because (the message said) you haven’t renewed your membership.

Okay, hands on:

1.    First of all: you have a story to tell. Moreover, you have great characters who drive their own stories. If you ask me, you’re a better character-driven writer than a plot-driven writer. It means that you write better stories when your protagonists shape the events rather than the other way around.

Take “Being Fifteen” as an example. Alicia drives the story. She is always in control and everything taking places happens because of her, because she set the events in motion. In “The Best Laid Plans”, Sarah is not in control. She marries Hugh because Hugh and her mother press her to do so. She can’t prevent Hugh from kidnapping her. She can’t escape afterwards. She has no opportunity to decide whether to get pregnant or not (even though she did decide not to have an abortion—the only time she was in control). In a nutshell: events drive her.

The second part of “Being Fifteen” you were writing was also character driven, for Alicia was, once again, in control of whatever was taking place around her: her actions, the reactions of those around her (even many grown-ups’ reactions), etc.

Conclusion: if I were you, I’d concentrate on character-driven stories rather than on plot-driven stories.

2.    Let’s focus on The Best Laid Plans. At first, I found Sarah annoying because she allowed others to decide for herself (Hugh, Claire, her mom, etc). This is because I prefer strong female characters, the same reason why I found Dafne do Maurier’s second Mrs. De Winters annoying. Don’t pay attention to me. Sarah is a perfect character and it fits your story perfectly well.

3.    Now, let’s go to the part where Gacela suggests some changes. Your story runs amazingly well until Sarah is kidnapped. Before that point, the story is strongly character driven. Not necessarily main-character-driven for other people are shaping Sarah’s life (Hugh manipulating her; her mother, fascinated by Hugh and eager to see her married rather than a single mother; Alicia, causing Jack and Claire to break looking forward to Jack approaching Sarah, etc.).

That Sarah is not driving her life, but that other characters are, is totally okay and in line with a character-driven story. That said, there are chapters where Sarah is in control of her own life (the part where Sarah struggles deciding whether to travel to the UK to have an abortion and finally misses the ferry, is superb!).

The weak part of your story (in my humble opinion) is after Hugh kidnaps her. After that point, the story is plot driven. Hugh’s personality is no longer important, but the fact he’s some kind of drug lord or mafia bloke (it doesn’t maters which), keeping her locked up. Sarah only suffers and suffers and is incapable of doing anything. Her parents hire a PI, a character who enters, and leaves, the stage without changing the plot a bit (you can well write him off and nobody will miss him, not even Sarah’s parents). When Sarah finally escapes, it’s because she’s aided by a thug who has no reason to do so, because she has one of those rare moments of inspiration when she decides for herself, because Hugh chickens out like he had never done before, and because Jack decides to walk in front of her building (in search of her, let’s grant you that point) in the right moment, and event with a  probability lower than the moon falling from sky.

After that point, like a falling house of cards, a number of events take place and you ask your reviewers whether the last chapter is easy or not. My opinion: of course it’s easy, because it lacks is background. Everything is solved only because you wanted a happy ending. You concentrated only in Sarah missing for years and forgot that Alicia’s and Claire’s lives cannot change only because many years have passed. Clues of what the future would be should have been hinted before, way before.

4.    I bet you’re thinking I haven’t given you any suggestion yet. Well, here it goes: rewrite everything after Sarah is kidnapped. Moreover, forget about the kidnapping and about Hugh and concentrate on the other characters. Make them evolve from that day when Jack was with Sarah and she little by little started to “return”, and on, and show the reader that you can, masterfully, make your characters drive your plot.

5.    I’ve been largely thinking about the title: “The Best Laid Plans”. At first, I thought you were referring to Sarah’s plans about being a ballerina, but then I decided you meant much more. Like in Les Mis, the title refers to more than one character (Jean Val Jean is not the only miserable one in Les Mis, but every character is a miserable one in their own way). The best laid plans were not only Sarah’s: each character had perfectly well laid plans that went wrong—and please don’t think I’m meaning their stories didn’t have a happy ending, but that nothing ended up as originally planned. Sarah quit ballet. Claire never married Jack. In fact, Claire discovered she was lesbian when it seemed she was the straightest girl in the world and would end up a housewife. Alicia, the rebel, the rock star, was the one who ended up enjoying being a housewife. Alicia married Declan and not Matt. Et cetera.
Certainly, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Your title refers to all your characters, not only to Sarah.

6.    Remember I told I had this feeling you should narrate Alicia’s story along with Sarah’s? Now I’m sure you should narrate Sarah’s, Alicia’s, Claire’s, and Jack’s stories. You’re wonderful for that. You’re gifted! You can write each one’s story, showing how each of them shapes each one’s future, until the best laid plans go awry. If I were you, I’d change Sarah’s story. Dump Hugh after he runs away the first time. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a drug lord or anything else. By the time he abandons Sarah the first time, his literary function has been fulfilled (if you wish, by the end of the story, Sarah may read on the newspaper Hugh was found dead, possibly killed by thugs belonging to a rival drug cartel—it’s not important). After that point, you can write about Jack and Sarah threading their lives until (if you like the damsel-in-distress story) Jack finally helps Sarah to overcome her situation. In parallel, you can write about Alicia and her discovering that, in the end, being a rock star does not satisfy her. Also, about Claire’s journey towards discovering her own sexuality.

Alternatively, if you don’t wanna make this story soooo very long, write separate stories featuring Sarah and Claire, but don’t just dump the ending of such stories in Sarah’s final chapter as you did. It doesn’t work. What you need to do, even  if you don’t want to incorporate Claire’s and Alicia’s stories into this one, is to hint, through every-day life events and details, what is gonna happen in the future. You have a golden opportunity to hint Claire is lesbian after Jack and she break. Also, you have to introduce Grainne into Claire’s life, not just drop her like you did in the last chapter. Why Grainne? Why not some other girl/woman in the world? I would answer because Alicia, a mutual friend, introduced them, maybe right after Claire and Jack broke because, Alicia, perceptive as she has always been, read between lines and guessed Claire and Grainne would, in the end, match (even if, at first, Claire marries a bloke).

Elaborate on Sarah, on her discovering her own children, on Jack helping her to come back and overcome the trauma of Hugh’s disappearance, until they discover they are a match. Pepper it with news on Alicia and Claire, and how their lives are progressing. Mention Declan. Mention Claire’s marriage dissolving. Mention Grainne. Write about lives that match what you previously hinted, and then give the reader the happily ever after ending that is a plausible outcome of the previous events.

7.    If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about the word count. If your story is a good one, any agent/publisher will take it, despite an abnormal word count. On the contrary, if you squeeze a good story into a particular word count only for the sake of it, you may end up with a good story turned into a bad one that no agent will take, despite it fitting the usual word count for this literary genre. Unless you wanna write very commercial stuff, the kind people read while commuting in the underground and discard in a rubbish bin once finished.

8.    Once again, you have wonderful characters and you’ve mastered character-driven stories like few people in this site have. My advice is that you stick to that and rewrite this story changing the plot-driven (and thus weak, IMO) parts to stronger character-driven parts. I’d also recommend you to write Claire’s and Alicia’s stories—maybe separate books but all of them part of the trilogy “The Best Laid Plans”.



Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

eww Alicia and Declan?? Noo!

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Ooops, Kenny, I've just spoiled you the story!



Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

I let my membership lapse because i haven't been around here much lately but joined again recently - and how nice it was to come back to all of your advice! I've read it many times before replying and am still reflecting on your ideas so i'm not sure what i'll do next.

i've thought of writing Claire's and Alicia's stories into this - in fact, i started it out that way but got feedback from various reviewers that they didn't like the story suddenly moving away from Sarah so i deleted those chapters and kept the story focused on Sarah.

Claire's story is pretty solid in my head - after her divorce, Alicia suggests that she moves into Grainne's apartment, as Grainne recently broke up with her boyfriend and wanted someone to share her apartment.  Things gradually happen between the two girls - taking them both by surprise, but they both struggle to accept it as their families have expectations of them to lead 'normal' lives. it's only when Sarah returns that Claire feels she can open up to her family about who she really is.

Alicia's story is a bit of a blur for a while - from the time she leaves Dublin after being found in bed with Jack she spends a lot of time in hospital following her surgery. she starts dabbling in music and it slowly becomes bigger and bigger until she's touring the world (with her father along for help!). her story only clears up for me on the new year's eve when she meets jack in San Francisco and then heads to Vegas for a show. it's there she meets Declan. She gives him the challenge to find her within the next three weeks if he wants to be with her - eventually he does find her on a remote island in the Carribean that she owns. they spend a year together, away from people, technology and focus only on her music and his writing until he is called back to Dublin to visit his mother on her deathbed. Alicia goes with him, discovers she's pregnant, and ends up giving up her career and fame in order to be a mother and for 6 years, loves this role until she passes away shortly before Sarah returns.

I like their stories and have toyed with writing them. Jack's is more elusive - i think he just played sports, drank pints, and worked like a normal person until Alicia met him in San Francisco.

Writing their stories would considerably lengthen the storyline, but you may be right that i should just cut it off when Hugh leaves and rewrite the rest from there. maybe Sarah shouldn't be kidnapped. stories these days always seem to have non-stop action but over Christmas i was at my parent's house clearing out some of my old books and i reread a few of them which were solely based on the journey's their characters took. they didn't need a major plot because their character's were so interesting - maybe that is what i will aim to do (it won't be plotless but maybe it won't be action-driven).

Gacela, you've made some excellent suggestions and given me a lot of inspiration to go back to this story that has been frustrating me for so long, and to make something better out of it!

i really appreciate all of the thought and patience you've given this. i'd be lost without your suggestions!

Re: WIP The Best Laid Plans by Suin

Suin wrote:

I'd be interested to know if anyone has tried 'hybrid' (or vanity) publishing where you pay for their expertise in publishing including editing, printing, Amazon & marketing...

I used a vanity. Would do so again --  They were happy to dance around my requirements, and they gave me print + US market where I'm deficient. I'd hoped they'd edit a US English version for me but that was a no-go.And marketing was a "hella-no pay us 4x the base". But print really delivered

(posted here instead of premium to preempt the inevitable battle)