Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Writing is *Hard*

Around about 3 years ago, back when I was living in Sydney, I was having trouble falling asleep one night and distracted myself by plotting out a new story. As soon as the major players fell into place, it became clear that each of the three 'factions' was scheming against the others, in a format known as a Xanatos Gambit.

Essentially, a Xanatos Gambit is a two-layered plan. The outer, obvious layer is meant to fool the opponent into thinking that they've tumbled on the instigator's cunning plan, and can now diffuse it. However, the opponent is meant to think that, and they are meant to succeed. What the opponent doesn't realise is that by foiling the instigator's obvious plan, they are actually furthering the inner, hidden plan.

For example, a master thief might trick the owner of a precious item into believing that he has worked out how to crack the owner's safe, causing the owner to remove the item to another location. What the owner doesn't realise is that the thief hasn't cracked the safe but has actually worked out how to get into the other location. Now that the item has been removed from the safe to the other location, the thief can steal it.

Anyways, as I lay there trying to fall asleep, I developed this wonderful Xanatos Gambit. It was brilliant. I rehearsed it over and over again in my mind, worked out the kinks, saw the characters clearly . . . and then fell asleep.

The next day, I could remember the name of one character, and the basic characteristics of two others. And that was all. The spectacular gambit had completely evaporated.

Over the weekend I sorted through all of the main themes in my writing, going back years, and started to form a plot around some of the most common elements - the story facets that mean the most to me. The two main characters of that nearly-forgotten night came back to me, and found their way into this story as one of the four main groups, three of which are trying to run Xanatos Gambits against three of the others (the fourth group are interwoven but not combative). So I'm trying to reconstruct the elements of those cunning plans or build new ones, and it's most frustrating to know that I once had one that would have worked so, so well!


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