As I'm discovering the shape of the story, I'm dumping the progress into this PDF file on SugarSync. If you want to follow along, you can check it now and then, or I'll put a note on this blog whenever there's a significant update. Please note, the contents of that PDF are copyrighted and released under a Creative Commons licence. Be sure to make yourself aware of the limits and rights granted under the particular licence I am using.
<<<<<< SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT >>>>>>
What's Forgotten Memories about? I don't know. Well, I know, but I don't know how to summarize it, not yet. Maybe it would be better to say, I don't yet know what to summarize. I know how the story begins; I know where it's trying to get to; and I know the plot thingy that is supposed to turn it toward where it's trying to get to. I don't yet know how the story is going to get to the plot thingy, or I didn't know until I wrote the second section, Diaspora. Or I thought I knew how to get to the plot thingy until I wrote the Diaspora section. Then I sat there thinking, What the Fruck! (F-bomb + frak, get it?) This is not getting me to the plot thingy -- not at all.
Diaspora was supposed to do two things: introduce the character Antwath, and have him and Vail meet each other. That's it. Get in. Get it done. Get out. Next step: plot thingy. But no. Vail had to make the Diaspora business interesting. She had to make it seem "real." She insisted on saying to Antwath, "So you don’t drop it into the trees." Fine, say it, I said. But, that's still not enough, she said. It's so mundane, I know you don't like that word, but anyone, anywhere with binoculars and high places above trees might say the same thing. It doesn't tell readers anything unique about my world. She had a point. OK, how about adding, "If you do, we’ll have to stop the whole caravan, climb down, and find it, and no one will appreciate that delay." Yes! she said. Now we can move on. Ah, what are you waiting for?
I wasn't moving on. I couldn't stop thinking about that gun -- Chekhov's gun. The one where, if you introduce it in the first act, you have to be careful to not shoot your toe off with it in the third act, or something like that. How could I introduce the consequences of dropping something into the trees and not drop something into the trees? But that frucks up the whole plan for getting to the plot thingy.
Oh no! I thought.
Oh? I thought.
Oh my! I thought.
Holly Frucking Christopher Walken! I thought. If a certain character were to drop a certain thing into the trees, that could lead to a whole new way of getting to the plot thingy -- and a wholly more, I-didn't-see-this-coming-at-all, exciting way of getting to it. It means the plot thingy will have to show up somewhere else, and the characters Sianma and Esio, who had popped into existence during Diaspora to get some minor business done, will suddenly become major supporting characters. And this even begins to solve a problem lurking off in the distance involving getting from the plot thingy to the end.
Where did this idea come from? It wasn't my idea: The ground work for it was being laid down over two weeks before it manifested itself. I don't think it was Vail's idea. Was it Sianma's idea? I suspect she's a lot smarter than Antwath thinks she is. I think Vail understands how smart she is.
You see? This is why I can't outline, or why it wouldn't help if I did.
Oh, about the whole new way of getting to the plot thingy? Tune in next time.