beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
I've been trying to figure out where to start my stories about a character I'm probably calling Dana, who is a full time carer with a part time English degree who inherits a share in the mysterious family company and finds out it trades across the multiverse.

The problem is that where you start it plus the genre it seems to be sets up different promises for the reader.

Like, if you start with her at home, trying to get enough benefits out of the government to properly look after her people, unable to use the education she step by step acquired, then you're setting up an ending where she can get hem everything they need and she can... I don't know, write about her wild adventures? Bit too meta. Bit too small. I gave her a same enough background I don't have to research the real world stuff, and she can logically know everything I do, but I made her a carer instead of disabled because I like it when characters can do more than I can. But it sets up her problem as looking after people instead of reading books, or possibly looking after people so she only has time for fiction, which is more where I wanted to start. But then to go have wild adventures involves not looking after people, and there's a hell of a weight of social expectation that says she should never leave and must immediately go back to care work. Which, ugh. She just inherited the keys to magic, she's out of here, and the NHS and government carers can take it from here.

Which is a solution, but one achieved in the first chapter, or possibly the prologue. Or possibly before she even leaves, because otherwise it sets up the wrong expectations.

So then there's inheriting her sister's share, to the resentment of her brother in law. He expected to be able to just send half the profits to her, but she's having other ideas. So he says he'll take her as an apprentice, meaning she'll be treated roughly like a 14 year old starting GCSEs, and he expects she'll back down. But to a mature student this is business as usual. Been there, freaking done that. Finished high school, went to college to do the same darn things, had been surrounded by 18 19 20 year olds for upwards of a decade. Will take those conditions and from them squeeze out every ounce of education available, and cart home every library book.

So set it up this way and it's a Prove To Them All. Include Captain Brother In Law's conviction that his family are missing, not dead, and your happy ending is to find the sister alive and well but by then be so good at everything you get a ship of your own out of it.

... this was not the ending I had in mind. I mean, maybe the Captain finds his lost love, somewhere in the multiverse, but probably he's just going to keep looking forever. And Dana might end up with a fleet of ships, but she wasn't going to stay on them that long.

(Also the dead lady kicking off the plot again rather sucks, but I started with Captain Hunter and his obsession, so he's lost his wife. I just get ever more inclined to making it reversible. But either way he'd consider Dana a distraction at nest, potential suspect at worst.)

So skip forwards again, and what else do I want the story to be about?

... honestly, from here, it is in three phases: Meeting Captain Valor, Meeting Captain Cold, and Meeting Doctor Wells(obard).

... villains. *sigh*

But okay, Dana is going to share my weakness for villains, I can work with that.

But the Valor section is basically 'kidnapped by pirates, initially quite likes it, ends up really bored with him'. Which sets up a sort of romance trope and then goes ugh. Do not go ugh at romance readers, they like what they like. But Dana doesn't like endless wandering between realities, as it turns out, even though it looked quite good as a beginning.

Which is also why she doesn't want to stay on the Waverider forever. But what does she want?

Phase two is meeting Captain Cold because they both want in to the same building. Which ought to be a short term goal, but due to a cock up of translation systems and passwords, becomes a bit of a Quest. And along the way there's discovering what is valuable on this world, in the form of what is worth nicking. But also learning about magical items. And some of the things they can do.

So on the one hand this looks like love interest the second, but on the other he brought his husband, because things that are not Coldwave make me sad. So it's probably not setting up romantic expectations, and there'll be no happily ever after of that sort. But on the gripping hand that makes this what genre, exactly? Road trip? Heist?

And I'd be happy with an ending where they decide the money is secondary to the team they formed along the way, but Dana is only going to use them intermittently in the future, this isn't her forever crew. And the warehouse can't solve all her problems, so whatever they find there is of limited practical use. So what's resolved at the end of that section?

Actually it's when she hears about the great Wonder Work of Central City, and how they have more pronouns there's, and a magic that can give you a body to match. At which point going home or yelling at her brother in law can wait, because opportunity. And all the wandering around learning the rules of magic is to learn the possibilities and the stakes. What she'd risk. What she could gain.

... I'm not much liking that I typed this up as 'she' throughout, but I've not been much liking storytelling with singular they. They ought to sound fine but ends up bothering me. Plus character is much more certain of pronouns than writer, and writer keeps slipping. So she happens. But also, if not starting with she, the whole learning phase gets really short. They arrive somewhere that can do better than the NHS, so they wander off to get the magical equivalent of top surgery. Short story, all done.

And a tiny bit difficult to set up as a payoff to reader expectation. I mean, that's not an established genre, that I've read. Looks like romance, gets very queer and genderqueer, considers that the big win.

The other thing is, learning that making stupendous amounts of money seems a but boring. Not a great realisation for a merchant adventurer in the making. Means neither the travel nor the score is what she's really in it for. Each of those represented by different unsuitable beaus. I guess if she met all three together that could play like a pretty traditional romance, but sequentially they're a couple of thwarted happily ever afters.

But then there's Central, and STAR, and Eo, or local equivalent. I've done a lot of serial number filing here, taken the interesting to me bits, ended up with Eo as possessing entity using Wells' body, because that way neither has to die for both to have problems resolved. But I keep going for the biggest scope. So this Eo isn't just trying to get home, he's trying to save home, and with it, potentially, the multiverse. Because he's one of the class of entities that can travel between worlds, and most places they are treated poorly. He thinks he's going to have to fight for freedom and knock down the oppressors and so forth, which obviously is a problem for humans. So, resolving that means getting a new deal on equality for a whole class of people not currently regarded as people.

... and also there's a romance and a hard won happily ever after, because it turns out this, systems level stuff, is Dana's happy place. All that reading about kings...

So if he's the happily ever after, then does the story start with meeting him? And the rest gets told as it comes up, in flashbacks and complications?

But I still need to know roughly what happened.

But maybe only this roughly, to start...

because after this, after Dana starts trying to become their true self, the rest is prologue. All forty years of it. And there's twists and turns that require Dana, specifically, and every skill and story they pulled together along the way.

So I reckon the beginning is not all the finding what they didn't want, but finding the work only they can do, and then following them around as they do it.

... it's just the before of that has lots of interesting too...


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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