I’ve been thinking about Nita, and the new HWSW blog, and the cottage and what it needs, and a glitch in my finances (not a disaster just dealing with somebody at the bank who will not call me back) and the hole in the fence that Milton keeps escaping through, and Lily.
This post is about Lily.
Bob and I did the first chat about The One Sentence Idea, and of course I thought about Nita, which was easy, I’ve been developing that plot for five freaking years, and then I thought about Lily. And that led me to the Central Conflict (remember the conflict box?) and the Central Question which is “Will the protagonist defeat the antagonist and achieve her/his goal?” and you can guess how that splatted when I applied it to Lily.
Basically it was “Will Lily defeat (what antagonist?) and get (what goal?)?”
So some missing pieces. Like the entire plot. Even the romance has gaping holes in it, which makes sense since there’s only 20,000 words and it’s too early in Discovery to do this kind of stuff.
So my antagonist is going to be Dorothy. (And her little dog, too. Sorry.). I don’t know what she wants, either, but it’s going to be simple. No international art theft, no shadowy drug cartels, no intricate political drama. I was in academe for several years, and one of the things I hated at the time that makes it prime ground for fiction is that, as the saying goes, the fighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small. People will go to the mat for things that leave people on the outside of that social system gaping is disbelief. And the amount of buried (and not-so-buried) resentment can be astounding.
I think Dorothy got run over by the truck that is the academic system because she was an outsider, but she was far enough inside the system to know how to work it. She’s fueled by resentment, especially toward Louis Lewis, who is a good-looking, well-connect idiot (trust me, I have stories from real life about this kind of guy) who was promoted over her and now is oblivious to the fact that she’s running the department and him. She has two basic choices: Serve him and the museum selflessly or take revenge without borking the museum which she likes while setting up for a fall the obnoxious Louis, whom she hates. I don’t see Dorothy going for selfless. I think she’d set up her revenge for the long term payoff, making incremental moves over months, but Louis is doing something that’s making her speed up her time table, and Lily gets hit by an ax and all of sudden she’s dealing with a whole new ball game.
Of course I know none of the details of this. Where’s Pam Regis when I need nefarious academic stories?
What I’m really thinking about now–idly, in between dealing with everything and rereading Murderbot books–is how Lily and Dorothy are alike and different. I kind of want them to be doppelgängers, the same character in the same situation but who depart parallel paths because Lily changes and Dorothy doesn’t, possibly because Lily likes people and Dorothy regards them all as inferior beings who pose a threat. That is, they can both be organized, efficient people who love the museum and work to make it a better place, thereby allying with each other naturally (Dorothy and Lily like each other because they’ve known each other long enough to see that commonality), but when the disaster with the ax hits (literally), they deal with it in different ways, and that’s where their paths diverge and bring them into conflict.
But I don’t have a goal for Lily. (This is not uncommon with my discovery drafts.). Dorothy wants power, money, and revenge, in a series of small assaults on Louis, over a long period of time. It’s almost like episodic TV, she does things that make him look stupid (he is) and set back his personal projects, but none of them are huge. It’s death by a thousand cuts. Nibbled to death by ducks.
But how does that bring them into conflict? I don’t know and the reason I don’t know is because I don’t know what Lily wants. Besides Fin. And I don’t know why she wants Fin, aside from the reason anybody would want a large, good-looking guy who is kind, competent, teachable and tips well.
This is why I keep saying Lily is not a book. It’s not a book because it’s not a story, and I have no compelling reason to make it into a story. But since I just wrote a short essay on The One Sentence Idea, and I’m about to write one on the Central Conflict and another one on Discovery, and since all of that is done for Nita, I keep defaulting to Lily.
Maybe I should go back to Monday Street and Paradise Park. The only thing I don’t know there is why somebody is killing princesses. Okay, that’s a big thing, but still everybody has goals.
So that’s why it’s been quiet in here for a couple of days. I’M THINKING. And phoning the bank again.