Yeah, so that wasn’t quite it. The whole Cole/Cadence/Victoire triad isn’t coming across successfully, while Cole’s key motivation or goal being ‘not responsible’ isn’t setting up the plot much better than the ‘stay safe’ agenda… but! I think a critical distinction to be made is the difference between ‘story goal’ and ‘underlying motivation’.
I’ve pretty much come to terms with this not being the next Hunger Games or what have you, and I’m not too keen on pursuing the kind of fast-paced thriller plotting that could take it there, at least not to the detriment of the character and world rules, the core themes being explored. However, I do recognize that publishing, whether Indie or trad, is highly competitive, my readers expressed clear frustration with the pacing, and my web fiction serials are showing lacklustre performance at best. Something’s gotta change. Even with a ‘perfect’ book, it’ll be a monumental task to promote, gain readers, and make even enough money to earn back what I’ll end up paying out to get this thing out there. Plus, half of the point of hiring an editor was to have someone to push against and be pushed by.
So. Here’s the brainwave - themes and the essence of the character are not the character’s story goal. The story goal is the thing that moves the plot along. The theme and the character kind of happen through and around that. Sound plausible? Practically, this means that I may be able to give Cole a mission while still exploring her ‘difficult’ side, her issues with wanting and feeling and engaging others and taking responsibility. So I’m thinking she’ll start out ‘discovering’ an issue with dreamdeaths taking place (or escalating?) under Tower rule, be suitably upset that her whole worldview is based on lies, which is the motivation for first confirming the premise - by making a clandestine visit to the site of Bell’s death, maybe setting up the Morrises/Serov/Haynfyv subplots and stumbling over evidence of the actual results of dreamdeath to make it more viscerally real - and then in reaction to that, seeking out a way to survive.
(Potential Spoilers Alert!) If you map it out, there’s kind of a cool symmetry to the plot points - she’s existed in this tension between the Tower urge to obey and Cadence’s call to rebel, but then encountering Ravel sort of tips the balance to the rebel side and she starts exploring this larger world… Cadence gets her ‘outside’ to the rooftop, but that’s scary, she doesn’t understand it, and she almost dies. But the Tower’s safety is questionable, so she tries following Ravel, learning about and entering into his world and philosophy. But that’s scary in its own way, so Victoire is born to cope with the ways that Cole can’t handle it. And then dreamdeath invades this new, scary-but-safe world and turns it hostile and Cole ends up in the Tower, which feels like home, so she tries to forget and rejoin her old life. But then the dreamdeath invades her life there too, and nothing’s safe in any sense of the world, and none of the systems or leaders offer an answer she’s okay with.
There’s some threads missing, though. Cole needs to take responsibility, be her own ‘leader’ or discover her own ‘system’ for survival. And it doesn’t satisfactorily cope with the ‘learning to want’ aspect - yet. I think I’ll try mapping this premise out and see if I can get it to cover all the bases I’m not willing to sacrifice… Seems to be the best set up so far! Although, I’m reading another Brenna Yovanoff book (Paper Valentine), which is setting up more protagonists without clear motivations or goals, which is making me more obstinate about conforming to traditional or rule-abiding forms of storytelling… Agh!
Apparently I only like systems when I’m the one making them. All this three-act scene/story/character scripting is driving me up the wall. At least partially, because I can’t see it working for anything except very pat, predictable stories. Maybe I’ve been reading on the artistic edge of pop-culture, when I thought I was in the thick of mass-market? Anyways, it sucks and I totally don’t want to do the paperwork. So instead, I dream up more and more creative ‘what-if’ scenarios that add clutter and avoid the core story problems. Which is, like, cool but totally unhelpful. Must. do. the. paperwork… Tuesday
Start time: 10:30 am & 3:45 pm
Abbotsford, BC - home/couch
Drinking: Earl Grey tea & red wine