Friday, November 9, 2018
Book 3 is going to feature a ménage—one woman, three men. That is, it was supposed to. Two of the brothers are fine, upstanding romance heroes, but the third is a total asshat. He’s what’s become known in the genre as an “alpha-hole.”
There’s no way my heroine, as I conceived her, is going to fall in love with this dickhead in the time allowed by the story. There’s no way that he, total jerk that he is, is going to change that fast, either.
At the same time I had what I thought was an unrelated problem looming in Book 7, the series finale. Books 1 through 6 are all the characters pairing off (or tripling or quadrupling off) with their respective destined lovers. Book 7 is the showdown with the bad guy, the culmination of the overarcing plot. No romance happens in that book; therefore, there’s no sex. The publisher requires sex. I thought I’d have to run a spate of scenes between all my established pairings the night before the big battle. Cliché plotting, but necessary.
Until I realized I could tie off two plots with one twist. All I have to do is bend the rules a bit.
Most romance books end with an HEA (happily ever after), with all participants committed to a lifetime together. But the HEA isn’t mandatory. There’s the alternative of the HFN (happily for now), where the lovers hang out but nobody gets married. In fact, I’ve got a Book 8 in the back of my mind, a stand-alone unrelated in plot to the rest of the series, that would absolutely have to have an HFN because neither party is ready to commit. It’s a Batman/Catwoman thing. HFN is acceptable, but the HEA is preferred.
A mix of the two settles everything. In Book 3, my FMC enters into a HFN ménage with the two decent brothers. Brother Asshat is left out in the cold. Over the next four books his story arc will play out as a subplot as he works to redeem himself in the woman’s eyes. He succeeds and is welcomed into the ménage in Book 7, before the final battle, in a scene I hope will satisfy the publisher. I can still have snapshot scenes with the other characters, but Brother Asshat’s story fills the requirement of a romance plot and makes the relationship an HEA. I can give him a scene alone with the woman, then add his brothers in, and it’ll all work thanks to the setup. Damn, I’m good.
I still don’t recommend pantsers try to write a series this way. This is plotter territory. On the other hand, it never hurts to stretch your writing muscles. Good luck.