August in the Vanishing City (novel)

Just so you’re aware, @Greg, you have used “still” and “old” and similar terms in your own language to describe the source of the problem. These imply a drive from something before the “now”.

Also, @mlucas already answered the question of “Why can’t they return home?” Okay. Sure the can’t return home because the Turks are their currently. However, even from the little I’ve read, just being back in an unoccupied Varosha would not resolve the angst the Greeks feel. They would need to feel as if they’ve returned home, not just returned to their place. Home is portrayed in this book as something that has history.

In essence, they need to go back home. Not just be back in Varosha. If the source and/or drive were the present, then just being back in Varosha would be enought.

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“Still” Implies ongoing, present.
And something being ‘old’-yes, implying past-is not inherently problematic.

Also, the story specifically states that they robbed not just the past, but the future.

They talk about the life they might have had had the Turks not invaded. Seems to me history is something they missed out on by not being home. Missing out on history must be an awful conflict to have to deal with.


Yes! This is exactly what the book is about. Missing out on having a father, missing out on having a home, missing out on owning a hotel that movie stars stay at… And Varosha is there staring at them across the water, taunting them about all the things they missed out on.



…18, 19, 20

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…you know, Mike, you and I are a lot alike in some ways.

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I’ve had that thought before too! But apparently not alike enough for me to get the “18,19,20” reference. Were those chapter numbers? (Looking at those numbers my brain keeps going back to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons “longsword +3, vorpal weapon” I had when I was a kid. You had to roll 17 or higher on a d20 to decapitate with it, or something like that. :smile: )


Needed 20 characters before it would let me post.

Is this your way saying “we’re nothing alike!”?

Sorry, just some goofy Dramatica humor.


Skip to the Experiment part of the post; it’s the most interesting.

First, on definitions

The Present - The Present does not refer to the way things are going, but to the way things are. It is a here and now judgment of a situation and circumstances surrounding it. A story focused on The Present is not concerned with how events led to the current situation nor where the current situation will lead, but defines the scenario that exists at the moment.

The Past - The Past is not unchanging. Often we learn new things that change our understanding of what past events truly meant and create new appreciations of how things really fit together. A story that focuses on The Past may be much more than a documentation of what happened. Frequently, it is a re-evaluation of the meaning of what has occurred that can lead to changing one’s understanding of what is happening in the present or will eventually happen in the future.

The bold part of The Present is why I am so intrigued by your insistence that “still” means something ongoing and implies a present issue. The word “still” implies a history, a source that comes from before the current time. It is more than just “now”. It is “now”, but it is “now” with history.

The bold part in The Past looks very, very much like things in the present. And I wonder if you might be seeing that as the source of conflict and marking it as The Present. It seems that any time something bad happens, it is because of a re-evaluation of, or a new meaning is thought up for, something from the past.

Next, on story form connections

This story doesn’t feel like Lord of the Flies, The Counterfeiters, Spirited Away, Antz, or Firefly (S1 Ep8). Each of those has an OS Concern of The Present. This story feels much more like Field of Dreams and if I had to find another description of something I haven’t seen, I’d match it to a description of The Prestige or The Big Chill. Each of these has an OS Concern of The Past.

On contextual sub-genres

It seems your argument is for a Survival story, but that doesn’t fit the first 1/4 of the book, at all. Existence or Status Quo, maybe (and that’s a drawn out maybe), but not Survival. However, I have to ask: How in the world is this not a Wound story???

And now for the replies:

I find it rather paradoxical that you agree with the assessment here, and yet don’t agree that it produces conflict driven from the Past. Varosha is a monument of the Past. Although, I’d be willing to try an experiment.


Get rid of Varosha; it no longer exists as part of the story… In fact, set it up so all the OS Greeks have been booted from their own, separate hometowns, unable to return for one reason or another. Make it more unbearable for them by ensuring they get only a single meal of bread and water a day. Have this be the driving force of dissension and frustration among everyone. (A guaranteed source of problems of The Present.) This would produce different storytelling, to be sure, but…

Is this the same argument as AitVC? I don’t believe it is.
(Though, I’d like @lakis to answer this question for me. After all, it’s his argument.)

Now, add one more thing: A keepsake for each OS Greek, some photo of home, or friends, or family, or some token or reminder of their previous lives in their previous hometowns. Have this drive their actions, their arguments, their conflict. (A guaranteed source from the Past)

Now, to me, that is the same argument as AitVC.
(Same question of whether this would work, @lakis.)


Haha! Actually I was being dense and didn’t notice the Dramatica reference. But I think that’s really cool that I didn’t, because if I really am your IC (or you’re mine), I wouldn’t!


Especially since Greg acknowledged that you two are alike, thus solidifying that idea! :laughing:


We know the Turks attacked, but not why. We know everybody kind of lived here and there for a while, stayed in tents some, and then eventually wound up where they are at the beginning of the book. A lot of that isn’t even part of the story that the book is dealing with. It’s backstory, justification for why people are the way they are now. So yeah, that sounds about right.

Where is there a re-eval of the meaning of the attack? It’s not like anyone comes back and says the attack was actually a good thing all along. The only thing I can think of that comes feels even close is finding the stuff in the safe that shows us that Joanna’s mom was married before. But that’s not actually a re-evaluation of anything. Just new information. Or maybe Learning he never had a claim to any properties comes close, but learning that Petros never had an inheritance doesn’t feel like it’s driving the OS does it? Or does it?

They way I’ve used the word still was to say the Turks didn’t leave and thus aren’t a problem of the Past. That past event of the Turks coming, that’s also a present and future event because they are still there. The word still doesn’t show in anyway that I can see that someone’s understanding of the present is changing.

I haven’t read it in a while, but I’d say it kind of does. Haven’t seen Collateral in a while either, but I don’t recall thinking that that movie felt much like Finding Nemo.

I’d probably go more with status quo or existence. Where do people heal or erase old wounds? They create new ones. We learn that Joanna has some issues because her father left and Petros doesn’t have an inheritance, but what is done to heal those things?

I agree that Varosha is there and part of the conflict is all the things they missed out on. The conflict is not the source of the conflict.

What actions and/or conflict does the photo drive? Petros trip to Varosha? No, he’s doing that to show Joanna that he will do it where Elias wouldn’t. That’s what drives that. He’s doing it to make her happy, to get a smile. The photograph is just what Joanna happened to want that Elias wouldn’t get. Had she said again that she wanted ice cream (just like she does in the first quarter of the book) Petros would have made the trip. The photograph being of the past has nothing to do with it other than that the storytelling ties it back to her backstory and is a better reason for Petros to risk his life to make her happy than getting her ice cream.

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I agree – that would not be the same argument.

Yes. Really the whole point of focusing on Varosha is that it’s such a potent symbol of those things (tokens, reminders, etc.) and it provided a good stage for some thriller-type/page-turning storytelling. [quote=“Hunter, post:189, topic:2324”]
However, I have to ask: How in the world is this not a Wound story???

When I first read “Wound story” in the subgenre thread I immediately thought, “oh, that’s my novel.”

@greg @mlucas It seems like the question is which of you will be the changed character? :slight_smile:

Another way to put it: with the invasion, Cyprus was frozen in the past. Being frozen in the past is the ultimate source of conflict in the story. If the Turkish army were to leave and the island were reunified, that would resolve the inequity of being frozen in the past.

Well, I didn’t want to turn it into a history text, but that’s what the Emre and Kadir scenes were supposed to do – represent the perspectives of the Turks that Cyprus is (historically, in their view) Turkish. The whole scene with the burning of the flag is basically a dramatic attempt to re-litigate that issue.

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So it seems the critical decision here is whether the historical information is backstory alone or an important part of the drive for the people in the story.

By arguing for a story of the Present, Greg is saying that such information is only backstory. In effect, he is saying it can be removed and it would result in the same argument.

The rest of us are saying that if you remove that information, then the argument cannot remain the same; it necessarily changes.

Taking the box of personal effects to family is an attempt at eventual closure. Trying to get service at the restaurant is meant to prevent new wounds. A Wound story need not succeed in closing old wounds, so long as it has the backdrop of trying to.

Why is he driven to show that he would do the thing that Elias would not? Also, you continue to refer to the actions of Petros and Elias. Those are muddled with other throughlines by nature of the characters. You also keep ignoring the first quarter of the book.

What drives the soldiers and other characters? Better yet, who is the OS group in the story?

Finally, you paid far more attention to everything but the experiment in my post. Your reply suggests, though, that the first paragraph is the same argument. How so? (Also, good luck arguing that when we have it straight from the horse’s mouth that it isn’t.)

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What I mean to say in my reply above is that this describes the drive in building the non-existent relationship. If the intent is to figure out the OS, the best move is to drop the players holding the MC, IC, and RS and look at everyone else. Otherwise, it is far too easy to muddle the throughlines.

That was the point of my experiment, and why I specifically referred to “OS Greeks”.

I wonder if The Present might be a 3rd or 4th Signpost in the form that @mlucas and @Lakis came up with.

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Present is the 4th Signpost (in the storyform we came up with – doesn’t matter if it’s action or decision).

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You know what the hilarious part is of all of this… I think I just determined a plausible story form for our own argument. Of course, it’s not fully determined, and I can’t see how it will end, but I think it’s hilarious how well it seems to fit.

Greg, I 100% disagree with this. The photo is NOT a MacGuffin. You could NOT replace it with ice cream or anything else that did not relate back to the past – the invasion and how that’s affected Greek Cypriot families.

In Dramatica terms, the photo is important because of why Joanna wants it. The past and her inability to visualize her father are both driving her here. Then she passes that drive onto Petros. That’s why “being of the past” makes the photo a source of conflict of The Past for Petros’s trip into Varosha.

Is it possible you are taking your “process leads to conflict” too narrowly? Like maybe you can’t see it when there’s a more complex chain, “process leads to process leads to process leads to conflict” and trace it back to the root source of conflict?


Inner turmoil. The majority of the characters are stewing on this, unaware that’s even why they act as they do. (A few are aware, but I think that’s the “some know the problem and some don’t” thing of the OS.)

Plus, what @mlucas said. <-- This, especially, actually, because reviewing the thread, we’re actually all on the same page of what the conflict is. Virtually everywhere, the implication is that the drive is one step back or one step forward.

For a more specific example, the scene in the restaurant:

The “Conflict”: The rage and physicality, throwing chairs, etc.
The “Source”: That they aren’t being served… (But this is what the characters themselves claim.)
The “Drive”: They are loosing a place they’ve always gone; a piece of their history. (The real reason.)

I think that because this is a novel, there is more space and more facility to review the characters’ thoughts. In doing this, we find that the characters themselves blame the present situation and/or circumstances for their trouble. Thus, looking for a deeper drive, the author presents the third option.

It is that third layer that @mlucas, @Lakis, and I are viewing as the real source of conflict, I suspect. And if this is a correct meta-analysis of everyone’s views, then to us, what you label as source is justification by the characters, while the real drive, and thus the real source, is one level deeper.

Now, I want to be clear: At this point, I’m not arguing for the Past, but for an upper-left arrangement. I’m positive in that as the source and/or drive for this story. I have still not decided on the domains.


Another bit of support for Decision driver – it feels to me like Do-er Petros’s personal issues are really impeding the flow of the narrative, in the language Jim uses in this article:

I know it may seem he’s “willing” since he’s the one who actually goes into Varosha. But I feel like from the beginning of the story his personal issues are kind of delaying the inevitable, getting in the way of the Filiki Eteria’s planning, etc. Then once he goes into Varosha he keeps impeding the flow towards the story’s resolution because he keeps delaying leaving – going to his house, going back to the hotel, etc.

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