Dreamer's Rose is fighting me. And I'm starting to think it's because I'm trying to start the story in the wrong place.
Briefly, the story is in two parts, from the POV of two MC's. The first part is where the trouble is. MC1 is born a demi-god, with the chance to become a god if he can. He does. But not without problems. He still has very human emotions and the habit of relating to the world as a human, which cause severe complications. Added to that, he is really unprepared for his new abilities and his new role.
MC1 has never failed at anything in his life--until he became a god. And he is a spectacular failure at that. The crisis point comes when he is challenged by one of his sons and cannot do what he knows needs to be done--kill his own son. MC1, feeling like a complete failure, retreats into hiding, leaving his son in an undeserved position of power.
After that, the story shifts to MC2, whose life is totally messed up by MC1's son misusing his father's power. Their story lines intersect and eventually they realize that they have the same enemy and team up to defeat him. During which, MC1 learns how to be a god successfully.
So much for the overall plot. Now, what I was trying to do was start the story when MC1 is a boy, when he first learns of the possibility that he could become a god himself. I like that as a starting point in a lot of ways. However, I'm getting bogged down in showing his development from there. A little is fine, but it gets to be too much in a hurry, since he never fails at anything except being ready to become a god. Which probably doesn't feel like very much of a failure to most of us. And the realstory starts when he does become a god. Or just before that, to give him some introduction. So, the two possibilities are:
Start just before he becomes a god, say one chapter, no more than two, to introduce him as a confident, capable young man before he start failing and losing his confidence as a new-made god.
Or. Start as a boy, when he learns of the possibility. One chapter (a short one). Then skip to just before he becomes a god, one chapter as a confident, capable young man before the big event.
The story would jump from the boy, dreaming of the possibility, but not ready yet to the young man at the height of his power, feeling he has no other challenges left, who does finally take the step to become a god. Would that be too much of a leap?
I don't think showing him as a boy briefly and then skipping ahead is too much, as long as you don't bury the audience too deeply in the boy character. I like to see both ends, and I think that would demonstrate the growth better.
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I'm seeing a host of themes. But I'm also kind of reminded of Wlliam Golding's Lord of the Flies, 1954.
Focus on one overarching theme and focus on a message might offer insight in how to proceed, where to begin.
General themes I'm seeing; Loss of innocence Coming of age Paradise lost An individual's relation to the gods Gods mock the individual and torment him for presuming to be great Gods are jealous of and thwart aspirations to power and knowledge In spite of the pressure to enjoy companionable society an individual is essentially, alone, powerless, and frightened
Possible messages; The gods are as emotionally flawed as humans Fitting in isn't automatic, one must proactively engage in order to establish a place in the order of things The entire cosmos conspires to keep an individual in his place, maintaining the status quo
In any case, where a story begins often is when an immediate, intimate problem related to a theme presents to a protagonist. For example, loss of innocence, finding out that all is not as rosy as previously believed. Then coming of age by overcoming the chaos caused by that realization. Then internal and external validation, in a favorable outcome, recognition of establishing a place in the order of things, or tragically unfavorable outcome, accommodating toward a failure to establish a place.
Theme offers a unifying role in story, beginning to end. From a message comes a theme. What does the story mean, mean to say?
[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited August 03, 2009).]
The themes can more or less be summed up by these sayings:
Be careful what you wish for--you might get it.
All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
MC1's larger story is partly about loss of innocence, in the sense that he learns that what he's always wanted isn't exactly what he thougt it would be. It's a whole lot more complicated and it raises far more problems than it solves. And also in the sense that he must learn how to cope with failure and try, try again.
Woven into that is the story of MC2 who has been driven into exile by the evil that was allowed to prevail when MC1 didn't know how to cope and gave up. In order to conquer that evil, MC2 will need to make MC1 face up to his responsibilities.
Merideth, just because MC1 never failed at anything doesn't mean he never feared failure. He may have worked hard for his successes in his youth. Even if he didn't need to work hard, an innate fear of failure could have driven him to break his back to succeed.
I suggest that you try starting the story in a different POV. Create a mortal character who has a serious problem (related to your theme) that seems unsolvable to everyone, even MC1. Create tension and suspense as MC1 decides to take on this unsolvable problem. The mortal could believe that all is lost at several points, but somehow MC1 manages to overcome every obstacle.
This can become a critical incident in MC1's childhood. The mortal character may never be seen again in the story, but MC1 may think of him/her years later at a soul-searching moment.
quote:Be careful what you wish for--you might get it.
All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
Those seem like morals to me, even maxims, as in the lesson or message of a story, also which suggest to me there's a tragic ending to the story.
MC1 seems destined to experience the greatest change; therefore, possibly the protagonist of the story.
MC2 seems posed to compel MC1's major changes, though not a villain or a nemesis, per se, nonetheless possibly an antagonist driving MC1's addressing his purposes and problems, like a mentor or a coach.
Theme as I know it is related to a topic or subject of a story, sort of like a thesis. Say, if gods can fail, what hope does humanity have. Moral failings of the gods then might be a recurring motif related to that theme.
Or, say, a theme of gods are made, not created in whole cloth, by trying their character. Refusal of the responsibility, reluctance to take up the obligations, temptation, self-doubt, hubris, poverty of wisdom, then might be motifs of such a theme.
In any case, an opening of this story might portray the apotheosis of MC1 that begins his troubles and insuperable struggles. His innocent beginnings might depict an interesting contrast to his post ascendency, but as an opening it doesn't seem to have a collision of wills, desires, needs, values, or characters. An interesting event, okay, an interesting experience, yes, but the third axis of agony as a compelling force doesn't stand out for me.
quote:An interesting event, okay, an interesting experience, yes, but the third axis of agony as a compelling force doesn't stand out for me.
Well, I wasn't trying to write the synopsis--yet. When MC1 learns that he has the potential to become a god, he also learns the method--he must die by fire to purge the mortal part. He's not afraid that he will fail, even though others like him have tried and failed. But he is afraid of burning because he tests himself and finds out that it hurts. It's the only thing he is afraid of, in the beginning. He's determined to become a god, but afraid of fire, which is the only gateway to what he wants.
[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited August 03, 2009).]
quote:I'm experienceing deja vue. Wasn't there another thread that explored this question, for this character? I cannot find it. Its driving me nuts.
Not exactly. Not the gap in time. The earlier question was about introducing conflict using his fear of fire. It did introduce conflict. But the kid still never fails at anything else--and eventually, of course, he'll succeed at that, too. So I'm rethinking the problem.
I think this is the post you were referring to: Stuck