August in the Vanishing City (novel)

We went to Comcerns next because it seemed pretty obvious.

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Actually, before we move on. Do you think there’s just one handoff that happens between them? Or do you guys think IC and RS kind of bounce back and forth as needed? I think I was looking more at Elias as bouncing in and out of the RS, but Joanna is maybe just in the IC role for a moment or so, but I may be overlooking some stuff.


I would agree with this I think – the definite Manipulation place for Joanna that I can think of is when it’s revealed that she just got with Petros to get back at Elias. There might be other moments though.

There’s a “you and I are both alike” moment with Elias.


Also, in case others following along haven’t figured out, @lakis and @mlucas have had a private discussion about the storyform already while Lakis, mlucas, and I have discussed the book just a bit in another pm. We’re moving kind of quick, I feel like, because of that. Feel free to jump in with questions or ask for more evidence for a storyform choice or whatever.


I see where you’re coming from with this, but I could also be tempted to ask if this is really influencing Petros. I might argue that what Petros thinks -“Elias should have stayed away from Joanna”-is what’s at play here, driving a wedge between Petros and Elias. But that might be for another time. I’ll move in to concerns when I get back.


Awesome so far guys.

Actually wondering if we can look at the other story points (dynamics) first, like they do in DUG… Here is a shot from the beginning of Zootopia analysis with Chris Huntley’s incredible penmanship:

So let’s try going in order of Resolve (Change/Steadfast), Growth (Stop/Start), Approach (Do-er/Be-er), PS Style (Linear/Holistic). Then Driver, Limit, Outcome, Judgment.

BUT I think we should be willing to move on from any that we’re not sure about, and circle back later once we understand better.

Note in the DUG they do the throughline descriptions first, but you guys have covered that already. Except to explain the RS which I think is something like “cousins/rivals” for the Elias-Petros part, and “romance complicated by old feelings” (or just “complicated romance” to keep things simple) for the Joanna-Petros part.

Greg, I had guessed something like IC was divided 75/25 % Elias/Joanna, while the RS was the other way around, 75/25 Joanna/Elias. I don’t think there’s a specific handoff, I agree it’s just bouncing back and forth all the time. Or even omnipresent with both of them.

P.S. This is awesome how well it’s coming together so far (with throughlines and domains) – definitely a sign of a solid storyform that three people individually had the same ideas so far!


From what we have already, we know we’ve got Stop and Do-er, right? Petros writes letters-even if he doesn’t send them at first-pays for the damage at the restaurant, goes hiking through enemy occupied territory to retrieve pics and raise flags. Here’s what I thought was an interesting one-he thinks of the film as his memories, his proof that things happened. He seems to use the pictures as a sort of external memory, which feels to me sort of like changing the world instead of changing himself.

Where did you guys go with Resolve and Growth?


Now we’re getting to the part where it was a little less obvious.

Stop and Do-er yes.

What did you think about Resolve?

Wow, all great illustrations! I also felt his daily push-up workout really fit Do-er – you could tell he was DOING that in relation to his personal issues. Also, the story about him getting injured on the scooter/motorbike when he went to get ice cream, while it was in the backstory so not wholly relevant, still felt like something he would have done during the story (same Do-er approach).

Resolve was kind of tricky, and I think it might be cool to get your thoughts, Greg, before mentioning where we ended up… Neither of us were sure of Resolve at first, and both of us went different ways and advocated our positions before finally seeing it the same way. But we actually had to get down to the rest of the storyform (Problem/Solution) to really come to a conclusion.

I will say this … Reading Jim’s article about the “diving bell” metaphor for MC Growth & Resolve, one of the four combinations really stood out for me as Petros (and it was a Stop one). Here is the link, scroll to the bottom where it says Advanced Story Theory. Here’s the relevant part (but makes more sense if you read the preamble):

In a Change story, the Main Character is the unpredictable element while the external world flows as expected. In a Stop story, the Main Character can’t stop using the controls or overcompensates as pressure increases and decreases. In a Start story, the Main Character is unwilling to work those controls as pressure mounts from the outside.

In a Steadfast story, the Main Character is willing to go the prescribed course, but whomever or whatever is controlling the ascension or descension of the diving bell becomes the erratic or uncompromising factor. The Main Character responds by working those internal controls, holding out for the Influence Character to Stop or Start using those controls for the crane.


I’m thinking Steadfast MC, changed IC. But I’m not sure how confidant I am in that yet. Might need to discuss it some, or look at problem elements first.

I see Mike has just posted and it looks like he’s talking about this some, so I’m going to read that and come back.

Update: just read Mikes post. I’ll have to read Jim’s article and come back, but why I’m saying steadfast right now is, as a do-er, he’s always going on to the next place. To the house, the hotel, back to the house, back to the hotel, fighting with the Turks. Sometimes he leaves things behind and that’s why he has to go back to the house and hotel. When they’re pushing the raft at the end, he has the pic of Joanna’s father-the thing hewent there for-and he lets it go with the raft when it sinks. He does this so he can keep fighting, keep swimming, keep
Moving on to the next place. And he even hopes the picture will wash up in a day or two-he doesn’t expect it to, but he hopes-and I can see him, if the story had mentioned it again, going out to the beach to look for it. So he doesn’t seem changed to me. And Elias becoming a monk seems like a big change. But again, that could change when we get to the problem elements.

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This was a big sticking point for me – it did seem like a big change, although I couldn’t find any similar change in Joanna (but maybe that’s not necessary with a shared IC).

In the private thread (which I sort of wish we hadn’t done now, but we really couldn’t stop ourselves!) I advocated for Steadfast while Lakis advocated for Change. In the end, he changed my mind, and I agree with Change now.

Lakis has a whole bunch of points he can mention, but here are the ones that stick out for me:

  • when he lets the raft sink, I felt it was a Be-ing moment. He was dealing with the ramifications of that internally, changing himself to say “maybe we don’t need those old memories” rather that Do-ing what it would take to save the raft. (I also think there was stuff like Cost and Consequences involved here maybe.)
  • There are some moments with Elias and Stelios, before they make it out of Turkish territory, where Petros acts more like a Be-er – for example here, he’s angry but changes his own mind rather than do anything:

Petros feels the bile rise in his throat. Who was this little shit to speak to him this way? Who is the one, after all, who has survived here in this city—chased, beaten, captured, escaped—for days now? Who knows better how to survive? He wants to say something, to tell them what has happened to him—what he has done. But where would he begin? And in any case, he knows that Stelios is right.

But I don’t want to shoot down your challenge … maybe we can move one with Resolve as “uncertain” for now.

Do you have any thoughts on PS Style? We didn’t discuss it at all. It’s tricky because I could see him using if/then thinking (if I saw Elias and Joanna standing close like that, the rumours must be true). But sometimes in the abandoned city he seemed to be balancing things? Not sure.

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My inexpert opinion is that it’s not necessary. Not discussing AITVC right now, but theory in general, if your IC has handed off to another character-as Joanna would have done with Elias-then only the hand off character needs to change because only that character is representing the IC perspective in that scene.

Another way I use this same idea is within the OS. Say you have story where you have eight perfect archetype characters living in a village with a hundred people in it. Even though the OS they perspective is about everyone in the story experiencing conflict, technically, only those eight characters are representing the Storymind’s problem solving processes. The other 92 characters, without a handoff, are just stage props, window dressing. There’s no reason, in my opinion, that they need to experience conflict.

I considered all of those and more. Even though I have no idea what the problem or focus are right now-haven’t even thought about them yet-I thought that maybe those things were either Petros wavering, coming to the brink of change, or maybe growing from focus to direction. My mind could absolutely be changed in a heart beat, but for now I’ll be the skeptic and stick with Steadfast so the conversation will be forced back around to it once we’ve gotten to the problem level.


Yeah, me too!

I do think this is one of the tricky points. At one point I was actually wondering if this was a structural flaw in the story, because Elias becoming a monk seems like a big change, but if you look at the Problem elements they fit much better with Petros as a change character.

So to borrow from the other thread, here is an argument for Elias actually growing into his resolve:

People think I am immune to guilt, he thinks … Was he just that good at ignoring his conscience? And what had changed?

Then, we get Petros’ reaction to the news of Elias’ becoming a monk:

Another overdramatic gesture, Petros thinks, but maybe for the best.

In other words, at least from Petros’ perspective, even in becoming a monk his cousin is just the same old Elias.

Contrast with a couple of lines from Petros:

The realization sinks in: he has come all this way, has killed a man, has come within inches of death only to discover things that should have been left undiscovered.

and then later as they’re swimming:

“We have to abandon it,” says Petros. He thinks of the diary, the surveyor’s maps; the last photo of Joanna’s father … “Let it go,” he says, this time more firmly.

… which I am now arguing are examples of his change.

So I’m going to stick with my argument that Elias is actually growing into his resolve and Petros is changing, but we should look at the Problem Elements for sure.



Interesting. I totally assumed he was just a linear thinker.

Totally! This is exactly what we need, to challenge any assumptions we may have made.

I think you’re probably right. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

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Petros is absolutely linear. He sets goals and sets out to get them done. He follows a map to Joanna’s house because if he brings her a picture, it will make her happy. The way he looks for routes to safety, worries about getting trapped in. The connections there are very plain to see.

I feel like Elias is much more Holistic going around trying to apologize and manipulating people to do things just to see if he can. I feel like I could go into more detail if I weren’t so sleepy at the moment.


Seems like a good place to end for the night! Thanks to both of you for your insights.


Great @Greg, let’s definitely go with Linear.

I don’t think @Lakis and I ever discussed Driver. I’m pretty sold on Decision:

  1. The boy getting shot trying to trade with the Turks is the First Driver, and seems like an Action… Until later you hear the whole story and realize there was actually a big Decision about whether he should do that, with Elias arguing against it, but he goes anyway (and Elias also makes a halfhearted decision not to stop him). This then forces the Action of the Turks shooting the boy.
  2. The Second Driver is Petros’s drawn-out decision whether or not to send the letters (which forces the Action to try and head them off, or at least explain himself as quickly as possible).
  3. The Third Driver (Midpoint) is Petros’s Decision to go into Varosha. Obviously forces a bunch of Actions.
  4. The Fourth Driver is, I think, Petros decision to send a message to Elias using the flashlight (which includes an SOS). This drives a bunch of stuff, getting Elias and Joanna and Anna and Stelios involved, so I think that’s the Act Turn.
    There is also Petros’s Decision to go back to the hotel instead of getting out of Varosha immediately when he has the chance. (The first two paragraphs of Chapter 21 describe this decision perfectly, Petros running through options and then deciding he has to go back.) This could be the Act Turn driver, but because of it’s placement (84%) I’m thinking maybe not.
  5. The final Decision (Concluding Event) is their decision not to save the raft, to let everything sink. (I think this is strongly related to the OS Goal, and Outcome.)


It’s weird, usually I have some trouble seeing Drivers and Act Turns but this story seems so clear to me!

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Due to a short story I read in a Playboy magazine in the 60’s where one of the characters walks away smirking at the end when the other character [you don’t want to know] …I always read the end of stories and films (that after Petulia) beforehand. Petros went to great lengths to bring back the father’s photo, and when he told her he wasn’t able to, she just shrugs. Was that a change on her part? Would it have been terribly important to her, before?


That’s a really good point, Prish. We should chalk that up as potential evidence for IC Change, MC Steadfast and consider it once we get to the Element level too. (Note: it may be partly or wholly in other throughlines, though. It seems related to both OS and RS…)