The solution was right there. I’m surprised it didn’t crawl up off my keyboard, rap me on the forehead with its grimy little knuckle and say, “Moron, do I have to spell this out for you?” …
I had a “duh” moment recently while working on the novel. I’d come to a point where the two main characters are going to have a parting of ways, at least temporarily. I’d always thought that the woman would initiate the separation. Until the other day. When I realized that the only thing that made sense was for the man to push her away.
Because that’s what the male character, in this case, would do. He’s skittish, for good reason, and he wants to protect her. The female character … that’s not her. She moves toward. He moves away.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this point. The reason it finally came to me, I think, was because everything else I had planned after it never quite worked. It always started to get … uncomfortable … at that point. With this change, the rest of the plan works as it should and makes sense, both for the overall plot and for who these characters are.