Friday, November 04, 2005


Last night on the way to Chicago (en route to Phoenix and home) I was reading Robert McKee’s book when I suddenly had an epiphany about the novel I’ve been writing.  It was the strangest thing, because my realization really had nothing to do with what I was reading.  I think my subconscious had been struggling for a long time with this and just suddenly worked it out.  

Without going into to much detail of the plot (I’ll practice writing plot synopses later), up to this point I had created a sympathetic antagonist (yes, you read that right – it’s an experiment, as I’m trying to stretch my writing abilities a bit here).  His actions are quite ruthless, but through his conversations with the other characters, we discover that his motivations aren’t actually ruthless – he’s not that terrible a person (at least from his point of view, but the character is very persuasive).  He sees the protagonist and wants to possess her.  She initially “sells her soul to the Devil (the antagonist),” but eventually leads a rebellion against the antagonist, freeing her people (long story, but I don’t really want to do a plot synopsis here).  She basically holds him responsible for the deaths of her mother and friend and sees him as the ultimate source of the suffering her people have endured – and to a large extent, she’s right.

The epiphany is this: She doesn’t just sell her soul – she really falls in love with him.  And he with her.  So now we’ve cranked the conflict up several notches.  The whole novel is exploring the idea of trying to carve a better life for yourself versus creating a better life for your society at large.  This is both an externally- and internally-manifested conflict, but there was something missing.  Now she has to face that conflict in its ultimate form.  She will head up an attack fleet that will start the war of independence that will free her people.  In order to accomplish that – something she’s not totally sure she believes is her responsibility anyway (hence the conflict) – she will have to destroy the enemy’s manufacturing capability – and the antagonist will be killed with it.  I’ve been crafting the story so that you really will see both sides of the issue.  You’re going to have a hard time deciding which side is right – exactly the same conflict the protagonist feels. In the end, you won’t be sure which choice she will make until the moment she makes.  It builds to what McKee defines as an ironic ending, something I had no intention of doing at first, but now seems to be the only way this story could possibly be told.  Similar stories have been told, but then again, I firmly believe every story has been told in some way.  I think the approach to this through two strong characters will make it unique right up until the end.  After all, conflict has to hurt.  This is going to hurt the protagonist pretty badly.

I didn’t bring the AlphaSmart on this past trip, so I’ve been holding off writing more on the story.  I just couldn’t bring myself to add more that would have to be retyped.  I am totally itching to get to the keyboard!  My new Neo arrived just after I left for the airport on Wednesday, so I’ll give a full report on that tomorrow!

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