No Pirates, Please!

PirateHere’s an update, and I know you care, on the continuing struggle of my latest project: I’ve established the Garrison family, their upscale house, their affluent status. I’ve introduced the two teenaged kids, who may figure importantly later. I’ve introduced Allie’s parents and revealed that all the money is on her side of the family. That will matter later. I’ve reinforced the idea, introduced in the first chapter, that Scott is existentially unhappy – with his career, with advertising specifically, and with modern life in general. That’s the start of his arc of development.

The dog needs more development. He appeared only momentarily then I forgot about him. He should be cut or developed. I like him.

A lot of work got done in one chapter. Maybe it’s two chapters. It ended up longer than I expected, 25 pages, 5000 words. I can cut it up later. My instinct says chapters should be short, but maybe that’s a holdover from genre writing. It’s nothing to worry about now.

I have a kernel. Salute the kernel! Pop the kernel! I have characters and setting. I should be happy. I am and I amn’t. Nothing points the way forward. No dead bodies, no missing money, no kidnapping. Just people living their lives. Only the writing will make anyone turn the page. Does it do that? I don’t know, but I have to turn the page – start a new chapter. Spin the wheel.

I could continue baseline character development. Allie should have her own chapter, showing her at work, to demonstrate how she doesn’t realize that others see her as needy and manipulative. She doesn’t see herself that way. I need to get her ready for her future breakup with Scott. Yes, this lovely family must be destroyed. Why else would it be there? However, I worry that a reader, at this point, has had enough stage-setting and wants to get on with it, so Allie will have to wait.

The central driver is going to be Scott’s emotional-existential change. It won’t be some big mountaintop realization, but a muddling, foggy, groping that will put him in uncharted territory. I don’t know how it will happen. In small steps, I guess. Which way? I’m staring into a tangle of vines, brambles, a wilderness.  It’s so much easier when there’s a corpse and a detective.

I need an event, an excuse, a catalyst – something to lurch the story forward. I have to get out of that house, too. It’s already getting claustrophobic.

I could take the family on a vacation – to a fancy resort hotel, maybe. Maybe Miami, for the Basel Art Fair – that gives Allie a chance to do some artsy scheming, Scott can play golf, the kids do whatever. Alligators could appear! I’ve never been to Miami. Could I fake it?  All those luxury resorts are the same.

I’m at sea, here. Wait — how about a cruise? Do rich people like cruises? Seems like they wouldn’t – imprisoned in a tacky floating hotel for a week of gluttony and tawdry entertainment. It would have to be a purposeful cruise, like a TED cruise or an educational thing that prepares you for an archeological dig in Belize.

Maybe they’d go to the French Riviera – rich people love the Mediterranean. Scott would be worrying the money the whole time. Nothing happens on the Riviera, or on most vacations, for that matter, that’s the problem. People lay in the sun and read magazines. You could do that in Cleveland. I need something to happen.

At least a cruise ship could be attacked by pirates. In fact I’m surprised that hasn’t happened. Those ships are soft targets and have lots of money on board. Can passengers take guns on a cruise? There could be gun battles. No, no, no. That’s not the story. Back, back, back.

I’ll ask Scott what he wants to do.

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