Well, I made some progress in Chapter 14 yesterday, but the scene didn’t feel quite right. I think I’m going to have to re-think it further. It’s challenging. Heidi is under cover, Jack is evolving, getting seduced. But the plot also needs to move forward; I’ve got all these background details of Jack, his home, his life, the medical center to move along. So the scene has to carry a very heavy load. It also must be interesting. I’m easing toward an approach where less is better, where the interest of the action happening on the page must take precedence over feeding the reader information. Exposition must never stand in the way of interest. The supreme factor tending toward success is the reader deeply caring about the character. All else is of lesser importance and can be woven in at leisure when the time is right. I’ve just finished James Hynes’s lovely and very funny novel, The Lecturer’s Tale. It was my—for lack of a less clichéd word—identification with the book’s protagonist, Nelson Humbolt, that made the story work. He was a good, well-meaning, cared-for, unlucky, abused individual and I deeply wanted him to avoid making mistakes. I wanted him to win, but fairly. I wanted him to grow and succeed. It really put me on the edge of my seat when I saw that he was going too far in seeking revenge. So, I must aim for something similar with Jack. I want the reader to fall deeply and permanently in love with him. As readers, we love a character’s goodness, but we don’t want him (or her) to be flawless. We want the hero to be fully human, like us, with frailties and unmet needs and having the possibility of redemption and success along with the possibility of failure. But this character must be frustrated by some powerful force working in the opposite direction.