I love to watch opera, and watched La Traviata yesterday. Before any actors take the stage, the music sets the mood and we get a view of the setting before the performers move or sing. In the opening, everyone on stage is positioned at the party like manikins in a storefront. When the action begins, I know exactly where I am and what is going on.
In today’s action-oriented novels, it is easy for a reader to stop and ask: “Where am I and how did I get here?” When I drafted Chapter 44 of The Ruby Spider Conspiracy, I moved quickly from venue to venue without adequate transition. As one reviewer said, “It looks more like a synopsis than a novel.” I had rushed through the sequence of events, eager to wrap it up and transition to the crucial moments in Chapter 45. Of course, if I lost the reader in Chapter 44, they would never read 45.
Chapter 44 is from Kassar’s point-of-view, the antagonist. After writing in Raisa’s POV for three chapters, I had to change the mood to get into Kassar’s soul. Just as the music and scenery change in an opera when the villain comes on stage, I had to change my own mood and perception when Kassar appears. He is in Mong-la talking to Jonathan Pembroke when the scene opens.
His mood changes from relaxed to anxious when Pembroke threatens his position. This results in a flurry of activity to put their scheme into action, moving from Mong-la to Pingyang to several locations in Lagos. When moving from place it is essential to maintain Kassar’s POV while transporting the reader from the domestic setting in Mong-la to the militaristic order of Ai-mei’s lab in Pyongyang to the chaos of Lagos.
The changes in setting are compounded by his dislike of Pembroke, squabbles with Ai-mei, and the gang-like atmosphere in Lagos. I am currently rewriting Chapter 44.