. So I’ve read through the comments on Lily’s Monday post, and there’s a lot in there to chew on. Plus, of course, the Girls in the Basement have been putting in some work. Here are my notes on your comments and the Girls’ nogging.
The Wants are expectations, basically ,the things you wanted to see next based on that very short first scene. The thing about expectations is that they have to be filled, they’re what makes a story fun even if it’s a tragedy (this is a comedy), but they have to be filled in a way that surprises. They include:
• The cat.
Pangur has to be in here. I have no idea what his personality is like, although I’m imagining he’s annoyed. Kind of like this:
Lily will talk to her cat, of course, who does’t talk to their cat? He does not answer unless she’s saying something interesting. Like “treat.”
• The Viking.
There seems to be a consensus that the Love Interest To Be Named Later must be a Viking. I’m cautiously good with that. Not as good with Erik as a name, mostly because Tim Robbins as Erik the Viking was not hero material. There’s also a consensus that the Love Interest To Be Named Later didn’t kill her in the previous lives (definitely no rape), but I think we should leave her deaths open, at least to include accidentally offing her.
Now the question is, is he reincarnated with her each time? Because that’s going to be difficult to pull off. I kind of like the idea that sometimes he’s four years old in her adult life and sometimes he’s eighty in her young life, but at this point, the whole reincarnation thing is a pain in the ass, so I’m just going to ignore that and sees what happens in the story.
What’s he do for a living? I was working along the lines of historian of some kind, but I like the idea that some people floated that he’s a painter. I liked it even better when somebody else talked about manuscript illuminations. Maybe he illuminated manuscripts back in the day and now he does book illustrations and he had a guy posed as a Viking who looked out the window and dropped an ax on Lily and that’s how she got her memory back.
Maybe he’s not even a Viking. Maybe he’s Brother Sebelius, the guy who owned Pangur, the monk who illustrated manuscripts. That would be a bait-and-switch which is usually a very bad idea.
Not that PoV yet. I want to stay in Lily’s PoV for awhile. We can do Viking PoV later when we know Lily better, I think. Of course I say that, and then Week 3 I will feel the need to do Viking PoV after all.
Since Lily didn’t mention that she already had a Viking in this life, I think it’s time for the Cute Meet, without the “Cute.” Snarky Meet. Ax Meet. Oh-Hell-Not-You Meet.
As for what he looks like, I think Chris Hemsworth is the current default Viking (although Idris Elba appeals, too), but I need a Hemsworth-like avatar that isn’t quite so in-Lily’s-face-Viking. A non-hunky Viking descendant. Which probably knocks Hemsworth out completely since he’s sort of Ur-hunky although he does appear to have a strong streak of goof in him, so that could be redeeming. Also, he’s the only Viking I know of.
Well, and this one:
Yeah, this might be better:
Although somebody did mention Rick O’Connell. Not a Viking but possibly we could kind of mush them together, I do that a lot with place-holders:
Maybe something will occur.
As to gender in the reincarnations, I have no idea what the reincarnations are. There may not be twelve; that was heavily influenced by Dr. Who. Another bridge to be crossed later. I don’t even know why she’s being reincarnated. The Girls just wanted reincarnations.
Oh, and we need a name. Possible Viking names: Bjorn (bear), Erik (absolute ruler), or Harald (lord and ruler). My next-door neighbor has two sons named Bjorn and Sten, so I know those are still used, but I’m drawn to Harald so I could call him Harry. That seems like a Crusie hero name. Actually, it is a Crusie hero name, Harry is in Monday Street. I do not see a hero called Norm, but that may just be a Cheers leftover.
I’m of two minds about Nadia. I kind of want to do thirteen sessions with her, each one discussing one of the lives, but that would mean the book would take place over 13 weeks, and that could be too long. Or I could start each section of the book with an exchange between Lily and Nadia, a piece of a session, sort of like the way the imaginary therapist was salted through Agnes.
Nadia needs to be in there, but I think she’s more along the idea of a Greek chorus. But not as an all-wise/all knowing mentor. Nadia’s good, but she’s a real person, not a symbol. Yeah, Nadia’s going to need some thought. She can’t be a love interest or a best friend because she’s a good therapist, and a good therapist would not cross that line.
• Reincarnation is real. I think magic is out–watch, there will be magic in spite of that–but reincarnation is real and Lily really is on her thirteenth? life. Maybe not thirteenth. Why the hell is she reincarnated? Is everybody? I mean, is that the way death works in this story world? Or it is just some people? In Nita, people get a choice in Hell; some of them just say, “Nope, I’m done, where’s the bus to the Elysian Fields?” Or is reincarnation part of an antagonist plot? Then we’re back in magic. I don’t want a magic antagonist.
But due to popular demand, reincarnation is real, I think.
Beyond expectation and Wants, we also need basic fiction Needs, the building blocks of traditional story: protagonist, antagonist, conflict, setting, theme, etc. Okay, not theme yet, we need a first draft to figure that one out, but . . .
• Setting: The Girls in the Basement) feel strongly that Lily should work in a diner. I have no idea why. I’m hungry, so that may have something to do with it, but that diner keeps turning up in the background. Not that I’ve given this a lot of thought, but evidently the Girls have.
Setting includes community, so Lily needs a best friend who is not Nadia. I’m assuming she works at the diner. Maybe she owns the diner. Maybe the diner is something quirky like . . . I dunno.
Ignore me. It’s Sticky Time.
I think there’s another waitress in the diner, too (of course there are other waitresses, but I mean a recurring character) because I dreamt about her last night. Her name began with a C and she’s a vegan who lectures people about caffeine while she pours coffee. I have no idea why, ask the Girls, they sent the dream. Actually, I think I know why the vegan bit; there a picture of a grocery shelf on the net the other day with the entire aisle of shelves empty except for the vegan section which was still completely stocked. I have nothing against vegans, but that was funny.
Other settings: the Love Interest’s workplace, their apartments/homes, Nadia’s office, the street–I get an urban setting for this, but not a super big city–but I think in general, they’ll show up when they show up. College town probably. Have to explain that ax, although the ax-throwing places fascinate me, but again, that would probably do well in a college town. Plus they’re gonna have to research the past. Yeah, college town. Too bad I’m not in Columbus any more, that would be perfect. I loved Columbus. Such a great town.
Where was I?
Right, setting. East coast probably. I personally find New Jersey as a location hysterically funny, but then I live here.
Later for that. I don’t even know what Lily wants yet, how do I know who’s blocking her?
See “Antagonist” above.
That’s our Lily. Early thirties. Probably a redhead with that Irish ancestry. Has a cat named Pangur. Short temper, although that’s a cliche for a redhead. I like Gina’s “I’m not a people person, but I’m a person person. One on one, I like people. More than that, not as much.” Not rude, just preoccupied with her own problems at the moment.
She works in a diner. The thing about a diner is that there will be other people there, too, so Lily will have to talk to people. Otherwise, she’s stuck in her apartment, sittin’ and thinkin’. Sittin’ and thinkin’ is stinkin’ writing. We need people for her to bounce off of. Diner regulars. So. Much. Potential.
College town (name?). Did she teach at the university, and then there was the whatever that gave her the memories of her reincarnations? Does she have them all sharply or are they slowly coming back to her? She could be a returning grad student. I did my first masters in my thirties, second in my forties. In what? Waitressing in a diner is a good grad school job. Like bartending. Mollie tended bar through her undergrad years. I waitressed all through high school.
Her close relationships are her cat and her best friend who owns the diner. Owns? Why is her best friend running a diner in a college town?
Okay, we’re getting too deep into the woods on this. Let’s stick to what we know from the first scene, which was pure Girls in the Basement:
• The protagonist is named Lily and she’s female and angry. (Welcome to Crusie world.)
• Her problem is that people think she’s crazy. I think. But it’s also that she’s upset/angry/tormented by those memories.
• She has a cat that [she thinks?] is reincarnated with her.
• She blames a Viking for her first death and many of the ones that followed.
• She’s read Harry Potter or at least seen the movies. Nah, she’s read them, too.
• She has an aversion to axes. And Vikings.
• She appears to have finally found a good therapist.
That’s all that’s there in that first scene. A rewrite is going to have to foreshadow the antagonist, but since we don’t have a clue who that is, later for that.
I have no idea why I started with therapists. It would seem to indicate that Lily’s big central problem is dealing with the past, letting go and moving on, which would mean that the antagonist is trying to make her dwell on the past, but that makes no sense because there’s nothing to be gained by that. An evil therapist could be looking for the mummy’s treasure and trying to dig up clues from her past lives, but Nadia isn’t evil and that’s a stretch for a plot and I don’t want supernatural in here. I think we’ll let the evil therapist go. But that’s still an interesting idea in general: if Lily needs to let go of the past, who gains if she’s forced to remember? I have no idea.
Also, why is she so damn angry?
I need to see Lily in her everyday life, I think, see what turns up there. So the first scene is in the diner.
Placeholders for Lily right now are Sarah Rafferty and Dani Kind.
Generally, I’m not fond of thin protagonists, but I think Lily probably burns calories while she’s asleep. Sort of like Lorelei in Gilmore Girls; she’s always whirring inside.
3. The Girls in the Basement
This is the stuff that’s just THERE. Because.
I have no idea why Surprise Lily struck me as a good title.
I know the reincarnations came out of the “Surprise” part of that, but it could just have easily have been a multiple personality thing, or an erratic heroine thing, or somebody who pops out of cakes at parties.
Then somehow Pangur Ban attached itself, not a complete surprise since I’ve always loved that poem, but why that far back?
Why more than one reincarnation (see Dead Again as a one-incarnation story)? I know why twelve, that was Dr. Who.
Why a therapist?
Why a diner?
I think the Vikings came out of “Pangur Ban” as a time marker, but why Vikings and not monks, which is much more “Pangur Ban?”
Why are the diner uniforms that I see pink? Lily with her red hair would probably look awful in pink, but that would really depend on the pink. If it’s magenta, you’d want to put your eyes out. If it’s a nice rosy pink, she’d probably look great. But still, pink?
How do I know that Pangur is a tortoiseshell?
I have learned not to fight the Girls on this stuff. Later it will all become clear. They Know All.
The next scene is in the diner with Lily and her best-friend-to-be-named-later, talking about the therapy, and then the love-interest-to-be-named-later shows up. No idea what happens; assuming snappy patter and a burger.
Feel free to continue brainstorming in the comments. I’ll be back with whatever on Monday.
NOTE: This blog post has not been edited. Apologies for rambling, mistakes, whatever.