I spent a lot of time over the last couple days reconsidering my storyform. I tried lots of different ideas -- first pen and paper brainstorming about different
OS Problem elements that could work, like Help, Support, Faith, Consider, etc. This was a good exercise and I could see several of them working. But once I went back to the software nothing really worked to create a storyform that felt right.
Help kind of worked, but only if I made my
MC Resolve Change, and I realized that wasn't the story I wanted to tell. I tried rearranging the throughline domains, but still had trouble.
It felt like I knew my MC, IC and their Relationship really well, and those all worked; but if I focused on the overall story it would mess them up.
Anyway, rather than go into more details, suffice to say I was frustrated. I started to draft a post asking for help, but before I could finish it I had to take my 6-year-old to soccer... and after soccer she wanted to play at the park with friends... giving me nothing to do for an hour but watch her, walk around with the dog, and think -- without a computer! (I'd even forgotten my iPhone! Luckily I did bring a notepad & pen to jot down ideas.)
Suddenly I started to make progress. I realized that some of my "overall story" ideas were not really in keeping with my original ideas for the story. I thought back to the one scene I had written in 1998 that begins: "On the day of her execution, in the early hours before dawn, Caitlin had a visitor." I realized my new ideas for the story (influenced by misguided Dramatica encodings) had made the First Mage too powerful, too much in control, when he needs to be desperate enough to risk breaking a girl out of prison because she's his last hope. And why is he so desperate? Because he is driven to oppose the government, and that opposition has gotten him into serious trouble.
My storyform wasn't wrong ... my illustrations were. They didn't match my inspiration for the story.
What I need is an encoding where, as Dramatica puts it "the source of inequity lies between the characters and the environment". In the Overall Story at least, I'd been trying put all the Opposition in the environment! (Hidden factions opposing the King's rule, etc.). But there was no Opposition driving the overall characters, except maybe the antagonists.
There can still be Hidden Factions of course, but what I need is an overall story where the characters are driven to Oppose ... This is obvious, but for me it was one of those hit-yourself-in-the-face moments because I realized I already had it. Really all the characters fit into two groups:
1. Cogs in the wheel of the Terrible System. They don't agree with the system, but as Cogs, they can't do much about it except disagree. And when they voice their disagreement, it causes problems! (This category even includes the 'bad guys'.)
2. The people being oppressed by the System, including the MC. And again, speaking out, protesting or resisting gets them into trouble! (But the characters are driven to do this anyway, even though it causes trouble -- like the MC who is a "willful child".)
The IC First Mage is a special case, which is why I was having so much trouble with him and the OS in general, thinking of it from his perspective. He is the architect of the System, and still has some power over it; he's more than a Cog. So I need to make sure the overall story is setup so that he is driven to Oppose, but never sees his own opposition as a problem. I'm already feeling lots of awesome ideas brewing...
Anyway, once I started thinking about it I realized I already had plenty of stuff outlined where characters' drive to Oppose got them into trouble, or caused trouble in general. It was all over the place in scene ideas, outlines, dialogue snippets. e.g.
- Caitlin says "That's not my name!" all the time (because she clings to her family name even though her surname was officially changed), and she always gets punished for it.
- Prioress Bridget questions her superior's actions, resists her orders, and is now missing.
- Sister Margaret disagrees with the Sisterhood's treatment of certain pregnant women; eventually she is found out and gets mind-controlled and used as a weapon.
Now I just need to figure out the actual "source" of the inequity, the inciting event and how it relates to Opposition.
I hope that all makes sense. Let me know if you still sense any problems with my storyform or if you disagree with (
Oppose? ) anything I said.