One manuscript asks a question and the other manuscript answers
The pond novel has three main characters, but Anna and I both agree that, in this first draft, one of them is just much more compelling than the other two. This is because we’ve figured out more about his desires and motivations, and those elements are driving his story. The other two characters are more elusive, but I think we’re getting closer to unlocking one, and the answer was hidden in plain sight, in my other novel draft.
Last May, I wrote about waffling on a backstory question: Prior to the events of the story, did the narrator leave home and come back, or has she been there the whole time? I actually never stopped waffling. I felt like the right choice was that she’d been there the whole time, because the action of the story could then shake up her “normal” world, but I also really liked the parts I’d written about her coming home after some time away. Every time I cut those bits, they found their way back in.
I was still waffling when I paused work on that novel, but now I think I’ve found my answer. The character who is returning home belongs in the pond novel, not the glass house novel. This morning I cut those bits from the glass house manuscript for the last time… and pasted them into the pond novel manuscript.
This is the first time I’ve stolen from manuscript to give to another, but will it be the last? Can’t say. But it is a good reminder that, with fiction as with life, a wrong turn today could turn into a right turn tomorrow.