Rose, the sentiments you express I hear all too often. All I can say to you is this: Lean into your characters. It’s *their* story. Follow *them* into and through the story-crafting process. Don’t allow any so-called rules, paradigms, formulae to inhibit the flow of your writing, especially in the first draft. Just *write* it, see what you have, then rewrite it. Trust me, page count and where specific plot points land is FAR LESS IMPORTANT than writing a story in which the characters are compelling, authentic, and grab a reader’s attention.