Posted by: victanguera | September 4, 2009

Exercise #58

I’ve been thinking about this one for several days. Back story seems to be the spine of a truly great tale (ooh, totally unintentional bad play on words there). By creating a place two people have come from, and how they connect to one another, it gives you a skeletal structure to start to build from.

And as a pantser, that skates extremely close to… OMG, plotting. Remember those things: Please write a brief outline for your proposed essay on the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Or something like that. I dreaded outlines in school. Do the numbers go first, or the letters? Is this a sub-point or does it get its own little bullet point? Aagh. Oh, the relief when I finished school knowing I’d never have to write another outline.

So here is a possible back story. And it’s sketchy, ’cause of that whole outline thing. This also shows a bit about how my mind works, throwing around ideas (mostly questions). It comes out extremely jumbled and usually needs about 900 re-writes to resemble anything coherent. Ooh, and I like that first paragraph enough to figure out all the rest.

It’s 1830’s London, and a  hit and run accident with a steam trolley left Emma close to death and horribly disfigured. Missing the left side of her face, and a portion of her limbs, a kind surgeon agrees to rebuild her using a highly controversial technique. Now, she’s nothing more than a freak, the only one like her. She hisses and whistles when she walks, her face chimes the hour and she can’t get a date. Until the enigmatic and delightful Elijah moves to town.

So what would happen if Elijah was the driver of the trolley? Thinking about that, does he have a specific reason for wanting her dead, and if so, maybe he shows up again now to finish the task he set out to accomplish years before. The question then becomes does he want her dead? Does she know something that makes her dangerous to him? What might that be?

Does the surgeon play a larger role? Is he a random person that conveniently happens to be in the hospital. Has he hired the trolley driver to perform random senseless acts of horror in order to practice turning people into Victorian cyborgs? Is Emma his first success? Do the surgeon and Elijah then know one another?

What about Emma’s parents? Where are they in all this? Do they pay for her reconstruction? Why would they allow that?

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