December 07, 2003

Working toward Lain - SPOILER

So, now I need to introduce Lain, which is making me waver back and forth.

One way would be introduce her completely alone, expecting company, and after she's established in the new reader's mind (and refreshed for the returning reader) and then plunge into a multiple character scene that will introduce some of the political conflicts. On the other hand, something makes me want to start with the group scene, where Tinker walks in not expecting to find company and then can't easily flee. I suppose it's the idea that it will make Tinker stay, whereas talking to Lain alone first, Tinker would probably chose to flee.

There's a danger in introducing too many new characters at once in that you overwhelm not only the reader but also yourself.

I suppose one way around it is to have someone ask Tinker to attend the upcoming meeting of humans as a formal go-between. Maynard or Oilcan leap to mind, since both need to be introduced. I could do a one on one with them, and then move to Lain one on one and then do the meeting.

What Tinker needs to talk to Lain about is the lost colonist, which leads to Lain's sister. At some point, Tinker needs to realize that the woman in her dream was Lain's sister - and that it has implications of the lost colonist. Lain at this time can talk about her sister and family, setting the groundwork for both the Mom's personality when we (hopefully) finally meet her and why Lain has kept quiet about the relationship between Tinker and herself.

Originally I had intended Windwolf only to give Tinker the diamonds, but I expanded it to the rubies and pearls to trigger the conversation about the dream. It also provides a bit of a red herring - Tinker thinking the dream was about the actual necklace and not about Riki's theory. Of course the clues to that lay in her datapad from book one, which Riki copied and left the original wherever Tinker left it. The copy was probably destroyed at Turtle Creek, but the original is safe.

The meeting that Lain and Tinker will attend will be the humans of Earth trying to cope with the situation that they find themselves in. Lain will be part of it because as leading biologist, she'll be asked to help set up some system to feed the city through the upcoming winter. Tinker will find that she's an easy scapegoat for a bunch of unhappy and scared people. At least one or more of these people will be the human villains of the story.

It would help if Tinker has some knowledge of these people ahead of time. While the Mayor of Pittsburgh would be a famous political figure to Tinker, I don't think she would know him. On the other hand, the resident director of the Observatory, as the representative of the stranded scientists, would be a known figure. Since I didn't mention him in book one but indicated that Tinker was a frequent visitor of the Observatory, I think there will be a Director and Assistant Director. The Director has actually spent more time on Earth, tracking the schedule of the incoming scientists and doing TV appearances as the expert in Elfhome science. A glory hound. The Assistant Director is a nice person, quiet, has always liked Tinker, doesn't figure much into this story except to explain why Tinker could hang out at the Observatory and still not get along with the Director.

History is a wonderful thing in setting up conflict.

One of the things that the humans are probably going to be pushing for is Tinker building another gate. This opens a can of worms of "who does Tinker have a responsibility too?" Is it the humans who want access to their homeland, or the elves?

At some point I need to work in Oilcan, but he presents a problem. Since he has no 'conflict' he doesn't have a reason to be in the book. Now that I've kidnapped Tinker out of her normal position at work, I'm not sure why she sees him. ….think…think…

I suppose she should be trying to rearrange her life to fit around the marriage and responsibilities of being Windwolf's wife. She has a business to run, and if not, needs to make sure Oilcan has a way to make a living. I suppose Oilcan can have some pride and doesn't really want the business just given to him, and Tinker did take care of a large section of running it. I suppose in a way, she also was an important cog in making Pittsburgh work. There's also the hoverbike racing, which she likes and enjoys (and Wen really didn't get to work into the first book except the one chase scene.)

So it seems that before Tinker can go see Lain, she needs to go to work and talk with Oilcan and maybe Maynard can come for a visit.

But as I consider what to write, I don't want to start into 'giving away' for various reason, but mostly it's too "last book, not this book." I lucked out in writing Ukiah by doing book two in Oregon. The change of location meant I didn't have all that baggage of book one in two or even three (since it's a change in location from book two). By book four, however, the characters all wanted to talk about back-story. It's a trap I don't want to fall into in T2.

So what in this book could trigger Tinker to go to the junkyard? …think…think… Okay, I mentioned earlier that her computer and stuff are at the junkyard. She wants to take measurements and such of the weirdness of Turtle Creek. So off she goes to collect equipment. Hmmm, reconsidering earlier thought - maybe what takes her to Lain isn't Maynard asking her to meet with the humans but hope that someone can help her figure out what's wrong with Turtle Creek. I suppose the idea was to have Tinker 'stay' at meeting was a promise to Maynard, but what if Tinker meets with Lain, who 'guilt's her into staying. Or maybe it's a double whammy -- both of them ask her.

Okay, so Tinker needs to think about what all has happened to her and go to junkyard to get measuring equipment and talks with Oilcan. The conversation can dance around the "what about the future" but maybe not tackle it head on, since neither cousin is of the type.

Sometime in this mess, I need to give her breathing time to connect the dots. But I don't want to do this yet. I have a habit of letting characters connecting the dots too soon and leap to the logical thing to do - only then not allowing other things to happen. I'm purposely trying to keep Tinker from making the leap, because then I won't be able to pry her out of Turtle Creek. I need her roaming the city, not fishing into the chaos.

I'll see how long I can have her do other stuff before I have to deal with solving the problem

Okay, I have a course in mind. I need to set the place, and maybe give a little history and introduce Oilcan in some interesting manner.

Hmm, after a few minutes, it becomes apparent I need to add something to last scene. Also while I wanted to move directly to the scrap yard, I find I need to mention where they are staying first. This leads to a great conversation with Pony that lays the foundation of Tinker's past. Initially I write the scene with Pony with them both knowing where they're going. I decide to change it so that Pony doesn't realize where they are going until he asks. This triggers me to work through and put in the more specific driving actions than the general ones I have in.


"So it's a dream about the necklaces? What so dangerous about the necklaces?"

"Dreams are rarely straight forward. Most likely the necklaces represent something else. I can see if there is someone of the blood in the city who can translate."

Tinker made a slight noise of exasperation and snuggled against him. "It was just a dream."


They were staying at the Poppymeadow enclave that normally catered to the transitory elfin population, providing room and board to people outside their own household for a steep price. Windwolf's household - all seventy-five members not counting her and Pony -- filled it completely, making it temporarily a private residence. Poppermeadow insisted on keeping control of the housekeeping and cooking. Deprived of their usual duties, Windwolf's household leapt to smother the bruised Tinker with their attention. Much to her dismay, she found herself stripped, washed, healed, dressed, fed, tucked into bed and drugged.

Early the next morning, she escaped the enclave with only Pony in tow.

"I don't know how much more of that I can stand," she told Pony as she eased the Rolls out of the enclave's carriage house. Normally he drove, but she couldn't stand the thought of having someone do for her what she could damn well do for herself.

"They mean well. They like to mother you."

"Mean well gets old fast," Tinker grumbled. "If that's mothering, I don't like it. I find it suffocating. I suppose its just that I'm not used it - I never had a mother."

"Your mother died when you were young?" Pony asked.

Normally she didn't like to talk about her parentage. While she found it clinically logical, other people seemed to find it weird. But this was Pony asking.

"No, I never had one. My grandfather used a egg from a donor bank and my father's sperm to create me after both my parents were dead."

"A donor what? Is that another race of humans?"

"It's a place that people put genetic material in storage for the future. Sometimes people -- like my father who was a genius - set up superior stock for anyone to tap. Other times its because the people are going to be working with hazardous materials that might damage their chances of having a normal child. My mom was probably one of the later."


"I don't know anything about her. Not even her name. Just that she was dead."

"If she was dead, how did you …" Obviously Pony was struggling with the concept.

"My real mother - genetically speaking. The woman that gave birth to me was paid to carry me to term."

"What happened to her?"

"She left Pittsburgh after I was born."

"There was no woman that took care of you?"

"Only Tooloo and Lain. Neither one of them ever acted like that. Tooloo always put me to work. Lain taught me things that Grandpa didn't - plant names, animals things, books and music and some history. When I got sick, I was all Grandpa's. He'd tell me to take acetaminophen, drink orange juice, and not to get out of bed."

The Rolls was a joy to drive so instead of taking Bigelow Boulevard and working her way through the city, she dropped down onto the Parkway for three open lanes and unhampered access across Fort Duquesne Bridge.

"Where are we going?" Pony asked as they roared over the Allegheny River.

"We're going out my scrap yard. I want to see what I can put together to run tests on Turtle Creek."


Sigh, didn't get to Oilcan, let alone Lain. Things pop up! Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by wen at December 7, 2003 11:14 PM