Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Drilling Down

Okay, maybe not the best title choice considering the current, ongoing BP fiasco...

I've been working on the manuscript and one of the things I'm trying to get a grip around is the all different levels this story is taking place on. The layers of the story, if you will. I know instinctively that they're there, but until I can clearly identify them in my mind, I can't be absolutely certain that I'm building those layers and getting them on the page.

After doing some noodling this morning, this is what I came up with, and it struck me as a good solid template for looking at your characters and their level of motivation.

The inciting incident for the story is that my heroine agrees to pose as someone else.* At first glance, my this premise could seem glib or shallow or facile. Or even a bit tacky. But it's what's underneath that intial action that gives it the necessary juice: my heroine agrees because of her perception of what she owes someone.

Underlying that is her need to prove herself to these people, the very ones that raised her up from the ashes of her former life. She wants to earn their respect. Actually, she wants to earn their love, but she isn't able to admit that, so she calls it respect. She is sure that by doing this thing for them, and doing it beyond reproach, she will earn their respect and they know they did the right thing by giving her this chance.

And underlying that is her scar tissue--her absolute starvation for love or affection of any kind and her very human need for those things.

And lastly, under all of those things is her gaping wound--her belief that she is every bit as flawed and worthless as she has been told since birth. Not worthy of love, in any of its forms.

So that's about four layers going on, which feels about right. Any more and I risk losing my mind...

*I apologize for the coy verbiage, but I am trying to avoid any spoilers.