Help needed: off-page, on-page, half-pregnant?

I have a longer article in gestation (which should be good-ish), but a quick question to my vast readership.

I’ve got some plot-critical action happening, and I’m unable (at the present) to think of a good way to plausibly get my protagonist on the spot to participate.

My options are to either:

  • move the action entirely off page
  • stretch my readers’ suspension of disbelief by trying to get my protagonists directly involved; or
  • do a half-and-half solution where the protagonists oversee (via either camera or audio communication) what’s going on.

The problem of the first solution is (obviously)  that I lose immediacy, especially since I’ve been pretty consistency using first person and third-person limited modes. What happens is in many ways the climax (or penultimate climax) of the book, so I do want it to hit hard.

The problem with the second is that I’d have to come up with a pretty convincing rationale as to why the protagonists have to be directly involved. In a slight spoiler, it takes place on a Naval Space station, with a ranking Naval officer assisting them. This character can order any number of subordinates, MPs, Marines to do his bidding, and I can’t think of any elegant way in which to persuade him to send our non-military protagonists to the hot-spot.

The problem with the third is that it suffers from the lack of immediacy, that I’ve already used a very similar off-page method in ANOTHER plot-critical moment earlier in the book, and that it leaves the main protagonist without anything to do. Now I’m not totally averse to making him an observer at this point (there will definitely be more for him to do, later), but having character’s present, but passive, is a real disincentive for being interested in them.

So, any help or comments on which way forward is best?

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4 Responses to Help needed: off-page, on-page, half-pregnant?

  1. John Harper says:

    I think I know the scene you are talking about, but its been a while.

    Obviously there is no reason for an Admiral to use a non-military asset when he has military assets except for:

    1)The Admiral has complete deniability. It could save a diplomatic incident if the protag is caught.
    2)The protagonist has no value to him so if he is hurt/killed in the process its no cost to the Admiral. Pretty much a free resource.
    3)The protagonist has some special unique skill that perfectly suits the situation
    4)He wants the protagonist to fail, thus eliminating him and getting him out of the equation because he is interfering in some other plot.

    There are probably more hopefully that helps stir up the ol’ brain juices

    ps your font is MASSIVE

  2. redravens says:

    Fixed the font thing, thankfully (though for some reason it didn’t seem to want to change back… cue the new theme).

    You haven’t seen the section I’m talking about, but having said that: the issue is that the negative consequences of the crisis are such that there is no advantage to the officer (who’s not the Admiral, FWIW) engineering a negative outcome.

    I’ve moved past it with a bit of a kludge of the officer taking a gung-ho attitude to do it all himself which is (SOMEWHAT) within his character. It’s still not entirely satisfactory. I’ve posited an idea about how to get around it, but it would require a moderate root-and-branch plot rework, so I’ll hold off until the 2nd edit. But once again, it’s a question of how believable the set up is to justify the scene.

    • John Harper says:

      . . . So I wasn’t any help then. That’s what happens when you go looking for help on the other side of the ditch.

      Sorry I couldn’t help further. If you need me to read anything to check for suspension of disbelief, you know where to find me

      • redravens says:

        Rubbish. Even if you didn’t provide a solution to this problem, it’s still set off some nasty ideas on some other aspects of the story (particularly on the first character who dies ). And I feel no shame in turning to a trans-Tasman cousin for help. Sometimes a Gormsby-type character is needed to keep us on the straight and narrow. 😉

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