My protagonist, Richmal, walked into the room and sat down. She stared at me. I stared at my laptop.
“I’m pretty busy right now,” I said finally.
“Must be nice,” she said. “We’re just just hanging around waiting for you to fix the gaping plot hole you created during this revision.”
“I’m in negotiations with a new character.”
“That’s your solution? Creating a new character? Not sure that’s a great idea.”
“Since when do you know how to write a novel?”
She crossed her arms and looked at me over her glasses. “I’m a librarian. We can find out about anything.“
I blinked. “Oh. Wow, that’s a great line.” I jotted it down on the orange sticky-note next to my laptop. Richmal looked slightly mollified, but she wasn’t deflected.
“We’re all desperately bored,” she said. “The villain’s been having long, deep conversations with the hero and is starting to get uncomfortable with his role in the story.”
“Too bad. He has to stick to his character arc on the page,” I said.
“And I heard a couple of the supporting characters talking about jumping stories over to The Raven’s Landing, taking up swordplay and questing.”
“That’s a bad idea. No character of mine has the qualifications for that genre.”
“Also, speaking of character arcs, are you sure about how I decide between the two love interests?”
“What do you mean, am I sure? I’ve been writing toward that decision since the first page!”
“Well, the three of us have discussed it a lot over wine and pizza…”
“Richmal,” I interrupted, “your job is to be the story, not write it.”
“I can’t be the story if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing!” she snapped. “People always complain about protagonists who don’t move the story along. Well, how about authors who leave the story stagnating?”
I tightened my lips. “I leave y’all alone for a few weeks, and you fall into anarchy. Well, let me correct your misapprehensions. Nobody is stagnating anything. Allow me to introduce you to our plot-hole filler. Cecil will be happy to get the story going again.”
A man about seventy years old, with a leather coat, tall boots, and an aviator’s cap over his shoulder-length white hair, strode into the room. “Hullo, hullo!” he exclaimed. “Bit of a surprise for me to pop by, what? Glad to make your acquaintance, old girl!” He held out a gloved hand to Richmal.
She stared at him in astonishment. “Are you serious? Our genre is realistic fiction. This guy talks like a Wodehouse character.”
“Just a bit of an affectation on my part, don’t you know,” Cecil said affably.
“And he sounds like… an off-brand Cary Grant,” Richmal added.
“Oh, hey, that’s perfect!” I exclaimed, making another note on the orange paper. “Anyway, this is what we’re going with. Why don’t you two get acquainted? We’ll get this thing up and going again.”
Richmal got to her feet, still eyeing Cecil, and shook her head. “Sometimes I think you’re just making this up as you go along.”
I gave her a look over my own glasses. “Welcome,” I said, “to the world of a writer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel to finish.”
(In related news, Draft #4 is finished. No villains filed complaints, no supporting characters defected to a new genre, and Richmal is satisfied with her romantic choices. Cecil seems to be fitting in fine. It is, I hope, ready to be bundled off to my editor.)