When I started plotting my romantic suspense novel, GUARDIAN ANGEL, I decided that my plot line would be the following--
(Back story) High-powered defense attorney Lauton O’Brien hires Gard Gardner to protect his daughter Desta if one of the organized crime lords or killers he defends decides to go after him or his family.
(Book plot) Lauton realizes one of his clients is out to kill him. He sends Desta and information about who is out to kill him to Gard, and he disappears. Desta comes by boat to Gard’s lake home. The boat blows up with the information, but Gard saves Desta. Desta and Gard go on the run with hired killers hot on their trail.
At first glance, the plot sounded great. Lots of action, adrenaline, scary bad guys, and a perfect situation for two people very suited to each other to find love and a happily-ever-after.
Then I realized the plot had a fatal flaw. The two main characters spend the whole novel reacting to what others are doing to them. Reaction is passive, and passive creates less than stellar main characters and a much weaker book.
I needed to give the characters a goal which is active.
I wanted to keep the hired killers hot on their trail, but I decided that Gard and Desta weren’t running away, they were working toward their goal -- following clues to find Lauton so they can figure out who is trying to kill them then stopping that person so they can have a life together.
When you are creating your main plot, you also need to be sure that your main character or characters have an active goal instead of being swept along by circumstances or by someone’s actions against them.
Make them heroes, not victims.