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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Sequence?

   
Author Topic: Sequence?
extrinsic
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Given a main dramatic complication, of the tangible action, a sting which sweeps up scofflaws and a focal agonist who dodges the sweep, what sequence of these motif introductions would you think best suits an opening?
  • Ubiquitous drone swarm and public camera surveillance.
  • A future setting where off-world settlement is earnestly underway.
  • Recruit hunters who try to sweep up scofflaws ahead of a sting's sweep meet at a conference complex.
  • The setting of an event named Plough Monday -- a secular name for the winter Monday following the feast of the Epiphany, a vacation day workers play hooky from jobs to "celebrate" the end of the prior year-end celebration season, a further labor-centered and tolerated disobedience ritual before knuckling down again at work.
  • A tempting civic achievement award invitation to what later turns out to be the sweep meet sting.
  • The agonist, presently jobless and on public assistance though under a contract guarantee to report for an undetermined servile work assignment at others' discretion, is tech savvy enough to bootstrap the cameras -- the other law trespass -- and track the hunters, half a step ahead of them while he prospects for a free ride out of their harm's way.
  • What am I missing?
In other words, event, setting, or character development emphasis foremost first, and which event? Understood a degree of at least congruent if not simultaneous development of each. Yet which to linger on first? They are bridge dramatic complication leads into the congruent main tangible and intangible one. Which is the agonist steps up or is forced to step up or successfully evades stepping up. The agonist has obstinately evaded stepping up since autonomous drone tech school completion the summer before. This opening intends the day situations come to a head.

[ April 10, 2015, 09:38 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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For me, introduction of character and place is most important at the beginning. If you can foreshadow the looming complication while doing this, so much the better. So, I'd start with points 4 & 6; focusing mainly on your focal agonist within the setting of Plough Monday.

I think, starting with that, all the rest can be implied, instead of resorting to narrator show or tell that doesn't advance the action.

Is the agonist fearful, anticipatory, or simply avoiding doing something he/she doesn't want to do? What are the consequences of evasion or capture?

Phil.

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rstegman
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Much depends on the market.
For the New-Pulp Market, the agonist seeing the officials coming for his position, slips out just in the nick of time, possibly taking the last piece of evidence with him, slipping out one door as they come in the other. This would show he is a criminal, it shows his ability to hack into their systems, and shows he is always just ahead of them. One can then feed in the other character information as he is on the move.

If you are going for a more more standard market, one might take more time, show the authorities setting up the sting and moving in.

Several years ago, police sent out notices to everybody that was on their wanted list, saying they were to get a good sum of money if they show up. A lot of the people showed up and they were arrested. criminals tend to be really dumb. the super criminals tend to be as rare as hens teeth.

The agonist being jobless, is why he is a criminal. He supports himself by selected crimes that will carry him until he is possibly called to work. The problem is that security is such that it makes it hard to hide his identity, even though they cannot really know where he is at any time, only by studying the recordings later to see where he was.

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extrinsic
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The agonist is wary and eager and takes delight in outsmarting his morally ambiguous pursuers.

I have an inclination to follow my first impression and instincts -- only my instincts and impressions are usually bass awkward for best outcomes in scenarios like this. So a call for brainstorming to see this in a different light.

rsetgman's scenario is illuminating in the impression of an agonist who is on the run and tempted by a reward. Therein lays one how to develop the setting and character simultaneous to the event and complication. Shown, of course, and through a close distance involving direct discourse dialogue, thought, emotion, and sensation and action-reaction.

Where the struggle for the opening for me is I like quick up-and-personal, danger-close narrative. And the action immediately at a gallop and personally involved. My instinct, though, is to start with a navel rubbing scene. The agonist alone and solitary views his pursuers on a personal device's display. He's closed in with the device and emotionally inaccessible because he's alone and meditative. Tension's emotional appeals, empathy most, caring, trusting, liking, curiosity, are at odds with that scene. Personal in-person interaction, clash, with others is an answer -- the pursuers, however, how to pose a likeable antihero agonist at the same time.

Really, maybe who the agonist first interacts with is the access point, say an acquaintance who is unlikeable yet the agonist is still helpful and compassionate toward. A proportioned weight of like and dislike at cross though intentional and empathy-worthy purposes. Maybe someone else runs with the agonist and is also wanted by the sweep meet sting folk, a more nefarious and dispassionate scofflaw or at least dispassionate toward his conned victims. Yet later, before the sweep meet, the agonist throws the foil under a bus, so to speak, to escape a pursuer, after the foil messed up and attempted first to betray the agonist so she or he could escape.

Just reducing this to writing is opening doors, the brainstorm feedback is also focusing the process.

And yes, narrowed and focused scenes and purposes such that the frantic busyness of the many can be tamed into a fluent flow of events.

Oh, and the agonist's major crime is not reporting for a job assignment after he signed a guarantee he would in return for being educated and trained and financed for the high-demand and menial work of operating drone operations: Military, government, and corporate support paid him for a full ride and he's just delighted in evading reporting to the Tedium. Plus, he messes with drone and automated autonomous vehicle systems, his other crime. What he really-really wants . . . is unattainable, except he messes up bass awkward. Then he starts to do instead of being done to. Note the intangible action is an early adult complicated by rights and privileges self-gratification clashes with personal and larger responsibility and obligation.

[ April 11, 2015, 12:13 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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JSchuler
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"My instinct, though, is to start with a navel rubbing scene. The agonist alone and solitary views his pursuers on a personal device's display."

The solution is for him to not be alone. Force him to do this in the presence of someone or someones else, covertly or overtly. Maybe give him a social reason for hacking into the drone feeds to justify the third party. He discovers the imminent sweep as a side effect of his actions, not as the intended end.

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Grumpy old guy
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I'd be asking myself what the purpose of the opening is: What do you want it to show/reveal, whether it be about character, plot, complication, or milieu: the who, what, where, why?

Once that is certain in your mind: how best to show it? With movement, inner reflection, or with action.

The next step is to find a quirk. Something that will set the chosen activity of the focal agonist apart and grab the reader's attention.

Finally, you can decide on POV and narrative distance.

Phil.

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