August in the Vanishing City (novel)

Cool! So the Failure is really clear then: Petros doesn’t manage to raise the Greek flag over Varosha, and doesn’t manage to bring anything back from Varosha (except himself).

Shifting gears to IC Issue, these stand out for me:

  • State of Being - What is the true nature of the relationship between Elias and Joanna? (are they really together? are they in love?) What is the true nature of Joanna’s feelings for Petros? Elias himself questions his own true nature (regarding his conscience) which eventually motivates him to seek God / a simpler life. Joanna questions her own true nature a lot too, and the nature of her feelings for Elias and Petros.
  • Circumstances - the rumours and then fact of Elias and Joanna being together create unacceptable circumstances for Petros.

I can definitely see Sense of Self working as the counterpoint too – Elias’s self-importance, Joanna’s perception of herself.

Situation could also be the counterpoint too I guess – Joanna and Elias’s influence on Petros’ circumstances drive him into the terrible situation in Varosha.

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Okay, and Suspicion vs. Evidence is PERFECT for the RS. Look at how both good and bad Suspicion cause conflict and growth in this relationship:

  • Suspicions that Elias and Joanna are together creates conflict and makes Petros finally confess his love
    • The same suspicion also affects the cousins/rivals relationship between Petros and Elias
  • The idea that there could be real love, a real romantic relationship, between Petros and Joanna is kind of dubious, and they kind of both “suspect the worst” about this relationship.
  • Yet there is also a funny gut feeling in the subtext of the whole book, that they could be together (Suspicion working the other way)
  • Evidence of Elias & Joanna’s relationship; the letters being evidence of Petros’s love; the evidence that Joanna only slept with him to get back at Elias
    • going to Varosha for the photograph of her father (a kind of evidence itself) which would be evidence that the relationship could work (Petros being able to take care of her)

When I saw that it was one of my “get chills” moments. I mean, it’s really central to the whole relationship.

Regarding the IC Issue I’ll admit this is a little less clear to me.

In support of State of Being though:

There’s a scene toward the very beginning of the book when Elias is basically trying to convince Petros that he (Petros) doesn’t understand his own nature and that if he did, he would know that he and Joanna are incompatible (this is the you and I are both alike moment).

“You’re not like her. You’re like me. You have a lust for the larger world. You’re meant for bigger things.”

One of the things Elias does is challenge other people as to their true nature (e.g. when he challenges the other soldiers to speculate about what kind of kid would get himself killed on the on the Green Line).

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Feel free to ignore me here, but don’t both of these processes look a lot like telling someone that ‘nothing has changed’?

Hmm - what do you mean by that?

I mean that if the Goal is to in some way say “Cyprus is still Greek” or “We are still here”, aren’t they, in effect, making the statement ‘nothing has changed’ or ‘nothing has progressed’? And not just in a way that points toward Progress, but in a way that uses Progress. Like Raising a flag isn’t pointing toward a lack of Progress, it’s using a lack of Progress (Cyprus still being Greek) to make everyone feel like they haven’t completely lost their country or cultural heritage or whatever.

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Yes… But I think you could look at those statements as any of Present, Future, Past, Progress. To me it feels like zeroing in on the storyform’s Concerns has let us identify the important parts of those statements when it comes to the Goal. (To me the word “still” feels really important in those statements; it references what once was.)

“Recovering that which was lost” feels really right to me for this whole story. I guess you’re still not feeling that?

(As an aside, I just realized how perfect that Goal is… Because it also encompasses the idea of recovering that which was irrevocably lost, like Petros’s childhood in Varosha – it never was and never can be. I think that’s part of the statement of this story, which exists between all the throughlines.)

Even before Petros ran into Emre & Kadir, I felt like the whole trip into Varosha was a trip into the past, like an archaeologist unearthing something fascinating. It seems like 90% of the gists for The Past could fit this story in some way. Not sure if you see it the same though.

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I think of Progress as something like “things are getting worse and worse” or “things are getting better and better” – not “nothing has changed.” I realize I might be contradicting myself here from my earlier statement that they want to “shake things loose” but the feeling to me is really about hearkening back to something that’s been lost.

I do see an element of that in the (possibly misleading?) title of the book which suggests the problem of a city that’s eroding over time. But I think the really haunting thing about Varosha isn’t just that it’s slowly disappearing (though it is that), it’s that it was abandoned at a moment in time – frozen, so to speak (though of course worn away by the passing years).

It’s also a very Greek thing–the problem of the modern Greek being this perception of this immense, great Past that they can’t live up to or live down. This is what they’re going for when they name the secret society after the “heroes” of the Greek revolution.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriots point to the violence against them in the 1960s as justification for the invasion of '74 and they call it a “peace operation”. If you ever get on an Internet forum in which Greek and Turkish Cypriots are arguing (don’t, it’s not worth it) you’ll see these arguments about what actually happened and who is rewriting the history being rehashed over and over again.

I could imagine a story that deals with the periodic restarting of peace negotiations between the two sides. These negotiations are always about Progress – are we going to make Progress this time? Is all this Progress they claim they’re making BS because they haven’t dealt with the real issues? Is all our Progress toward a solution going to be tossed away because of the interests of some foreign power?

But I don’t think that’s what this story was about.

However I could be wrong! And here I go bringing in material that wasn’t in the text.

I’d be very interested to hear what others think.

EDIT: I just realized you might not be saying the Goal should be in Progress but that we need to articulate the Past better…

No. I would have said everyone was waiting to reclaim what was and is rightfully theirs. I mostly remember Petros, I think, thinking about how he’ll go back to his home or back to the hotel when it’s safe? I didn’t get the idea anyone thought their property was lost, just that they couldn’t get to it.

Sure. And Pursuit is going after something. But a lack of Pursuit would be not going after something.
I’m looking at it like this. If one character says ‘I look older everyday’, then another character solves that by saying ‘you’re as beautiful as the day I met you’. Problem of Progress against a Goal of a lack of Progress.

Anyway, just my thoughts. Told you I’d interrupt the flow again. I’ll step back out of the way…
…for now. :smiling_imp:

But the focus would be on Pursuit – doing it or not. I don’t think the focus of this story is on Progress (as the primary concern).

I forgot to mention – in @jhay’s contextual subgenre thread he calls some stories with Concern of the Past “Wound” stories. That, to me, feels right on for this story.

Keep it coming! It wouldn’t be fun otherwise. :slight_smile:


Fair warning, I have motives for asking the following questions. That said, we’ve got the author here! Why haven’t I been utilizing that resource?!?

  1. What would you say is the first fully OS scene…or at least the first majority OS scene?

  2. What’s the second?

More questions to follow those answers.
Also, we can do this somewhere else if you’d like so as not to further disrupt the conversation you and Mike are having.

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But why couldn’t they get to it? (source of the conflict) Because of what happened in 1974. Because the Green Line is stuck in the past, too. Because they’re interdicted from going home.

And why do they want it? (drive) Because it used to be theirs. Because it’s part of their history, their previous home, their family’s past.

Oh, sorry @Greg my last post was crossposted with yours where you defined “lack of Progress” better. I can see what you meant and it definitely COULD work for a setup similar to this story, I just don’t think that’s the argument this story is making. I feel like the only way you could wave a magic wand and make the problems in this story go away, would be to change the past – make it so that the 1974 invasion didn’t happen, or the Greeks were allowed to resettle within months. It’s not about getting their stuff back now, it’s about all the harm that’s been done over the past 20 years, and how that’s affected their lives and outlook.


Actually, you’re the real conversation here! Since when you add the dynamics we settled on earlier to the decisions @Lakis and I made on the private thread, we’re down to one storyform. (Or two if we consider Petros might be Steadfast.) So we need you to keep it interesting. :slight_smile:

One thing, in the MC Changed storyform, the MC Unique Ability of Senses is absolutely perfect. I even noticed it while reading, before having any clue about the storyform, that Petros always seemed to have the upper hand in Varosha when it came to seeing. The Turks have flashlights when he has none, he takes advantage of their night-blindness; later the hotel guards are blinded by the floodlights; he stumbles through the dark hotel but has just enough moonlight / starlight to see; he’s careful to hold his hand over the flashlight so he can use it without giving himself away, careful to put his jacket along the door seam, etc.

I think there were a few hearing-related cases like this too. And maybe his sense of touch, used for feeling his way through the minefield.


I think we’re a half step removed. You’re saying that the past stems into the conflict of being unable to return. But I don’t see being unable to return as conflict. Instead, I’m saying beimg unable to return fuels hatred for the Turks, fills people with that longing of ‘what could life have been had I grown up in that house, that hotel?’ Things like that.

My follow up questions to Lakis about the first and second OS scenes will deal with this. I’ll extend that question to you, too, Mike. What do you see as the first majority OS scene? The second? (Note, i’m Really just looking for one scene here, so don’t think too hard about which is first or second, just looking for a quick off the top of your head kind of answer. I just want it in your and Lakis words and not mine)


Okay, this really helps me see where you’re coming from:

So you’re thinking of the longing and the hatred as the problems, which are caused by being unable to return right now (which could be Present or Progress depending on how you look at it).

I see where you’re coming from, and I did do some storyforming with Progress and Present as OS Concern, just to kind of check that nothing jived better than The Past.

Anyway, I see the longing and the hatred as problems, sure, but I see them as being caused by 20 years of bad history. And you can’t fix those problems by addressing the present – it just does not feel like “making progress toward getting Varosha back” or “showing the Turks we’re moving forward” or “surviving the present circumstances” or “being allowed to return now” would directly address the issues in this story. Something like those could’ve been included as “bonuses” in a Success version of the story (maybe as Dividends of Understanding), but first and foremost the story would have to address the past somehow.

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Cool questions! I’m only being a bit facetious when I say the first OS scene is the Historical Note!

In 1974, Greek nationalists staged a coup against the elected Greek Cypriot government of Archbishop Makarios. In response, Turkey invaded, pushing 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and de facto partitioning the island. August in the Vanishing City takes place in the mid 1990s, some two decades after the invasion. As of this writing, Cyprus remains partitioned.

Look at how it sets up the story world and its problems! But I guess it’s not really a scene. :slight_smile:

The very first part of Chapter One up to the first scene break is mostly OS, describing the boy being killed and the situation. But I would hesitate to call it a scene, it’s more of a summary.

So I’d say the first real mostly-OS scene is when Petros meets the others in the cafe in Limmasol, around kindle location 468 in Chapter 3.

I can’t help but mention that (if we go with the storyform we’re considering) the OS Focus of Inequity is really strong in this scene, with the Arabs being served and the Greeks can’t even get water in their own country. Notice how Elias responds with Equity:

“One-for-one,” says Elias. “No: actually two for one. They kill one of ours, we kill two of theirs.”

Which is a cool way of suggesting two for one as Equity (“more fair”) and looping it back to the Focus of Inequity, too.


Oh man, looks like I went to bed too early last night and missed all the good conversation!

I actually think this is one of the problems in analyzing this – the throughlines are very mixed up (within scenes I mean).

I think this is the first story driver.

That’s what I was going to say too, but I think this one is also mixed up with Elias’ influence – he’s the ringleader of this secret society that’s coming up with all these plans. But yeah, I think that’s the first one.

I think this is kind of where you get the chicken/egg problem in the whole source of conflict test. Would it help if the Turkish army left? Yes, but would that happen without some kind of “truth and reconciliation” about the Past? At least in the context of this novel, I don’t think so.

Interesting side note. In 2003, the Turkish side opened up the border to allow Greeks to cross over (and vice versa) – but without giving up claim to the land and the assertion of having their own country. (I’m talking about the rest of northern Cyprus – as of now, Varosha is still abandoned and fenced off.) People’s reactions were interesting. It was very moving to see them be able to return to their historic places. But a lot of Greeks wouldn’t go to “be tourists in their own country”, and for many, to visit their old homes where Turkish Cypriots now lived. Ultimately, it might have diffused a little tension, but it didn’t solve the problem, because there is still a fundamental disagreement about who has claim to these lands (e.g., who was there first?)

This conversation is still going on:

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Okay, now I’m biased because I feel pretty settled on the storyform, but assuming Mike and I are right, if you look at the PSR it makes me think that the OS actually begins with the soldier being shot.

OS Signpost 1, Scene 1: The Past as it relates to Instinct:
OS Signpost 1, Scene 2: The Past as it relates to Senses:
OS Signpost 1, Scene 3: The Past as it relates to Interpretation:
OS Signpost 1, Scene 4: The Past as it relates to Conditioning:

  • Instinct: the solider appears to be acting on instinct when he tried to trade with the Turks (gist here: “following one’s inner voice”)
  • Senses: “What is he carrying?”
  • Interpretation: “The Turkish soldiers misinterpret and shoot him”
  • Conditioning: Petros’ uncle says “Correctly speaking, the Turks were doing their duty” i.e. what they were trained to do.


IC Signpost 1, Scene 1: Conceiving an Idea as it relates to Interdiction:
IC Signpost 1, Scene 2: Conceiving an Idea as it relates to Destiny:
IC Signpost 1, Scene 3: Conceiving an Idea as it relates to Fate:
IC Signpost 1, Scene 4: Conceiving an Idea as it relates to Prediction:

Sounds to me like both the scene were Elias is talking about the soldier and the scene at the cafe. Conceiving the idea of the Filiki Eteria, all tied up with “we need to do something!” (Interdiction) and Destiny and Fate, etc.

There is a lot of OS story information in this scene, and probably enough conflict from it to say that it has its place asan OS scene. And that’s why I went ahead and asked for a second option. The way I’m seeing it, the first chapter, as far as Dramatica goes, is showing us a Driver and then mostly showing us the IC pretending to know something until he gets the MC to follow suit and also pretend to know something.

I’d like to know how both of you see this scene through Dramatica. What do you see as being conflict? What do you see as being the source of it? Etc. After that, I’ll share how I see it, or at least ask more questions. I’m hoping this sort of close up examination of a scene might help show us the difference in how we’re seeing conflict and help us figure out how to get all three of us on the same page. Maybe.

I’m definitely looking at it a little differently than Mike and I think probably you too. We’ve even discussed it just a tad in different thread. But while there’s are some scenes doing double duty, and some storytelling that for sure overlaps throughlines, I really don’t feel like—at least for the first five or six chapters, still doing a slow reread—the throughlines are all that mixed up. I’d say chapter 1 is mostly IC, I think chapter 2 probably mostly RS, chapter 3 mostly OS, chapter 4 through 6 maybe a little mixed up with MC and RS.

I dont see a lot of influence from him in this scene though, really. I mean, he’s making plans, but I don’t see anyone else changing or looking at a different path because of this. And the plans seem very OS oriented. And even though he is calling for calm, Petros stands up and starts wrecking stuff. I see him as mostly or fully an OS character for this scene.