Thinking About Lily

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.

20 thoughts on “Thinking About Lily

  1. We are okay with Lily not being a book, Lily is just fun. But Monday Street and Paradise Park are fun I would pay for. Lily reminds me of the stories I tell myself to clear my head before I fall asleep.

    Did you get a person at the bank?

  2. This is not a direct comment on Lily and her Conflict, but Having nothing better to do this evening, I visited the YouTube site, which proposed for my delectation “Vikings: Live from the British Museum.” This is a major new exhibit, with fine pieces from all over, opened by Queen Margarethe, and the YouTube version released on Thursday, so perhaps it hasn’t come up on your radar yet. Here’s the link:

    1. I watched it and took some notes.

      The big thing I found out was that “Thorfin,” a name I found on a Viking name list, comes from a Viking big shot named Thorfin Skullsplitter. Guess what Fin’s middle name is now.

  3. All the bank people have been sent home to work. You want someone (to be) physically at the bank. They will avoid you because the home they are working from is in western Pennsylvania, and they are trying to avoid the commute. Also trying to keep the bank manager from realizing just how far away they are – probably outside the “permissible” zone.

    I recall a few “phone musters” in Groton, CT, when I was actually in Atlanta. Don’t tell anyone.

    1. This is a guy my brother has worked with before in our very small home town. I think he’s probably local. If not, Jack will still track him down. He’s implacable.

  4. I work in Minneapolis and this post makes me happy. Thank you. I am now going to look for the video of the coyote chasing the road runner.

  5. This is awesome. I love Nita. I love Lily. I love that Lily is a communal work of art. I go away for six years and the awesomeness is even more awesome. Yeah. A lot of awesomes. I’m ill (no, not covid; probably anxiety, a bit of depression, and needing to go outside because I haven’t left the house since, hmm, many weeks) and need something because I cannot focus on books, except sometimes my comfort rereads (about a quarter of which are Jenny’s), but I can on the serial on Ilona Andrews’ site and on this romance game called Chapters. And now getting somewhat up to date on Argh. At least I’m not using exclamation points. Or all caps. I’ve read the Nita posts and the Lily posts and having a grand old time.

  6. I remember that you put together the Alice proposal in quite a hurry when Nita first got rejected. Did that get picked up? In which case would it be useful to work on for HWSW? (I do love Monday Street though. So much fun in that world!)

    I like the idea of Dorothy slowing bleeding Louis but not the museum, because it is her small empire and she wants it to still be there to rule when she finally takes him out.

  7. I forget if this has already been talked about, but did you ever watch the recent series “Vikings” on the History Channel? I think it might be on Prime if you missed it …and if you didn’t see any of it, you might want to check it out. I thought it was pretty good overall – a little up and down at times…and if you’re not a fan of gory grossness, you might have to skip some of the raids/battle/punishment scenes – but it is loosely based on the story/legends of the Viking Ragnar Lothbrok (Ragnar Hairy Pants) who is featured in both Norse and Irish/Anglo-Saxon sagas.

    I bring it up because some of what you’re describing in character attributes for Dorothy/Lily remind me a bit of the character Lagertha from the show. She is very loosely based on the stories and legends about a wife of Ragnar with that same name. Anyway, in the show she’s a total bad-ass Viking shield maiden – she and Ragnar have ups and downs, a lot of the time it’s because Ragnar is doing some seemingly crazy/reckless thing, and she’s the one who swoops in to save him…not always because she supports or approves of what he’s doing, but because she has an appreciation for the larger picture & her larger goals.

    She’s a bad ass in her own right and ultimately ends up leaving him (he deserves it) to rule her own lands, but her association with Ragnar keeps interfering with her own life and goals throughout the series. It’s been awhile since the first season aired, so I forget how much Lagertha there was in the very beginning…but if you’re looking for something new and bing-able while we’re still stuck at home, it might be an interesting watch to get you in a Viking mood of sorts. And I feel like there are some potentially interesting parallels in the character traits & dynamics of Lagertha/Dorothy and Louis/Ragnar (although Ragnar is way smarter than any description of Louis)

    1. I’d heard it wasn’t terribly accurate, so I’d passed it by because of that. I’ll definitely look into it. Thanks!

  8. Just wanted to say that Fin’s size and good lookishness by themselves are not qualities that would appeal to me or anyone I know. Nor the sizes of the tips he leaves, if these are considered just in terms of money.

    No, Fin is perceptive, and he’s funny, and he’s skilled in an artistic way. These things combined with the tips suggest someone who is aware, considerate, pays attention to others and to the things and people around him, and shows wit and humor in his art, rather than just delineation skills.

    I haven’t seen these qualities in Lily yet, which is where the mystery is for me. Something got her into a museum, doing teaching with kids. That suggests that she finds the way objects can tell stories about people, and that she has a good eye for line and color and point of view as it gets expressed in exhibits, and quite likely art. Although I haven’t read anything in the story yet that focuses on that kind of quality in her, or the connection they feel because of sharing those qualities.

    That’s the match I’d like to see between her and Fin, rather than just the “Red hair, she’s cute” and “big good-looking guy, he’s cute” kind of lukewarm here-today, gone-tomorrow attachment.

    1. I’ve been thinking about Dorothy and wondering why she popped up as an antagonist instead of, say, Jessica or even Cheryl, and it’s got to be because of Lily. I’m pretty sure the Girls know about Lily, I just haven’t gone there yet.

  9. I second whomever suggested Monday Street and Paradise Park as ones to work on HWSW because these are stories that you are working towards a book instead of playing around for fun. I loved the premise of both of these and would love to hear more about them. What book are you planning on working on after Nita is done?

  10. Okay, so again, posting a comment way late (my sister, B-I-L and nephew were able to come for a quick visit last week!), so this is in response to the Lily post on May 31. I figure if you’re reading, it’s probably out of order, but I also try to keep comments in the right place.

    ANYWAY, Thursday (I think) DH and I sat down with the 3 adult kids to watch Indiana Jones (a family favorite) and I made them pause the opening credits. “You all remember when you were little, and I went to the writing conference in Cincinnati with Jenny Crusie? Well, one of the things I learned was…” and proceeded to give them the Doppelgänger lesson – quite abridged.

    MINDS WERE BLOWN. It led to a lively discussion and connections regarding the third movie as well, and, the most avid viewing in recent years. So, thank you for your generosity with all your work and lessons. <3

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