I'd like to blame the snow for my lack of productivity yesterday, but I think maybe my subconscious/muse might have had something to do with it because I finally realized that there's a problem with this book, so something was dragging its metaphorical feet.
It started with realizing the problem with the scene I was working on. It's essentially the midpoint of the book, a big turning point that's also a bit of a spectacle (if this were a movie, this scene would be amazing). But I was midway through writing it when I realized it was kind of boring, in spite of the spectacle. And then I realized that it was because the protagonists weren't in any kind of jeopardy. I didn't feel any sense of tension or risk. I went back to the drawing board to figure out how to add that to the scene, and then I realized that the whole book is like that. My main characters are never in danger.
Not that the protagonists of every story need to face constant danger, but they need to have something at stake, something at risk. In a straightforward romantic comedy without wizards or fairies, that might be emotional risk, and that's often depicted through humiliating moments or personal revelations. I kind of have the personal, emotional stakes in this story because there's something big that the protagonists are trying to achieve, and it will be a huge loss for one of them if they fail. But that's in the big picture. In individual scenes, there's not much at stake, and this is an adventure-type story, so they should be in danger along the way. I went back and looked at each scene so far, and there's one scene in which we might be slightly worried about the fate of one of the main characters, and he gets out of trouble pretty easily. The other main character is a little too invincible. Otherwise, it's just some of the very secondary characters who seem to be in occasional jams. My main characters help other people who are in danger, but they have nothing at risk, themselves.
After I got done with the groaning and banging my head against the wall, I realized that this is an opportunity. While I like some of the individual scenes, I've always had the nagging sense that something is missing from this book, and now I know what it is. I wonder if I was maybe in a conflict/risk-averse place when I wrote the first half because now that I look at it, I can see a lot of places where there could have been jeopardy, but I shied away from it, like I was afraid of making bad things happen to my characters. Now I guess it's a real back to the drawing board for some brainstorming about how, exactly, to fix this. In particular, I need to really shake things up for my heroine. She's the kind of person who feels like she's always in control of a situation, and to make things interesting, I need to get her into fixes she can't get out of by herself or that at least require serious effort on her part.
So, that'll be my fun for the day.