How does a writer make the plot thicken? I don’t know where that expression came from, but, to me, I see the plot as a series of obstacles that get in the way of the main protagonist’s goals. So in chapter 19, there are lots of problems to overcome. Margg wants Yelena to sell secrets, the Commander decides to change his successor, Valek is angry at her and she doesn’t know why, and Rand is trying to duplicate the Criollo recipe.
And Yelena is not super human—all these problems do weigh on her and it’s hard for her to maintain any optimism about her situation. But she doesn’t give up. When Rand mentions coffee and she thinks her mystery beans might be coffee beans, she plans to figure it out. She doesn’t tell Margg to take a hike when asked to spy, but tries to find out more information. This aspect of Yelena’s personality is also a part of mine. I didn’t give up on trying to find a publisher for Poison Study (you can read about it here: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-trials-of-poison-study.html).
While I was writing Poison Study, I didn’t try to incorporate any themes or symbolism or any of that stuff you learn in literature class in school. I focused on the characters and their desires and conflicts and how they solved their problems. Only when the story was written and published, did I even consider all those things. And the reason I did at that time was because I was getting questions about them.
And then I started receiving emails from readers. Many readers contacted me to thank me for writing Poison Study, telling me the book helped them get through difficult times in their lives. Other readers were inspired by Yelena and thought if she can get through her problems, then they could too. Her “I’m not giving up” attitude helped many people, even convinced a young teenage girl not to commit suicide. I was blown away by this, and knowing that my stories are helping others is far more rewarding than any award I could win or making a bestseller list.
This chapter is one of Yelena’s “dark moments,” yet she rallies and approaches Valek about the offer to sell secrets. It takes a lot of guts and there are hints there that the reason Valek was so angry is because he thought Yelena was going to commit treason. This is a clue that he cared about her – if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have been so upset and she would have shared Oscove’s fate.
The fact that she wasn’t going to commit treason is a turning point for Valek. At the end of the chapter, he says, “You once said I wasn’t ready to believe your reason for killing Reyad. I’ll believe you now.” Yelena answers, “But I’m not ready to tell you.” This triggers Yelena’s memories of her time with Reyad.
Question 19 – In my short story, Sword Point, what do the students use to kill the vampires?
Don't answer this question in the comments!! This is another chance to win! There will be 31 questions for each chapter note published. Collect the answers to ALL the questions (or your best guess) and then enter to win a T-shirt at the end of the month (I'll post the Rafflecopter on the 31st).