Last night I spent several hours thinking about my chapter 3 re-write, while trying to avoid being drawn into the gossip and scandal of Downtown Abbey. I also spent a bit of time rubber-ducking it with my wife, again pausing to listen to various witty comments delivered by the dowager duchess. Distractions aside, the conclusion I reached is, in fact, I could simply add a few sentences here and there to modify the situation to be more plausible. It may be that I said I was going to avoid going into a lot of detail on my story, and I’m going to stick with that, but I’m going to describe this situation and how I approached it, partly to help me solidify how I feel about this solution.
At the end of chapter 2 my main character is captured by the bad guy and some henchmen. Chapter 3 sets out with the main character tied up, apparently in the middle of an open field with no guard set. The plausibility problem here is that the main character’s back story involves him being a soldier. It’s simply not realistic, actually too convenient for him to be left in the middle of a field and unattended. He could just crawl off and free himself. If they were indeed real people, the captors would certainly have spotted this problem, and solved it for me. A more plausible situation would have involved the main character being tied up, and set inside a disused building and set under guard. This would work, because the setting is an old farm with many dilapidated buildings. However, the original, and necessary, plan of escape for the main character was to be freed by a man who he had visited earlier that day. That bit can’t really change without dramatic modifications to the story, which would work, but I think its unnecessary. If the main character were, indeed, locked in a building it’ll be a lot harder to be freed by this man. Virtually impossible actually.
I began writing the revision with the disused building in mind, but it was hard, and not working and I was struggling to imagine how the main character might be freed under the circumstances. Believable, yes, workable, not so much. This is where the rubber ducking came into play. In taking apart the plausibility, I realized that the main character just needs to be tied to something. The farm would have a broken wagon, even operational farms are likely to have this sort of thing lying about. I expect they might even feel they could keep a better eye on him this way. The next bit is to set a guard. If I stick with the concept that the men who captured him are arrogant and confident, this would be a token effort. My solution is to add a guard, who has fallen asleep. Then, the other men, who had not yet turned in for the evening, would simply ignore this lapse. The main character wouldn’t be going anywhere. Then, later, this situation actually connects better with a bit of action where the leader takes retribution for the lapse. So, no-rewrite necessary, just a heavy revision. All that really needed to happen was to flesh out the details better. The story will run just fine with these details inserted. It’s still a little tenuous on the plausibility, but passable.