Outlining - Sarah Harper And The Money
I have a note here that must have been a story idea.
A poet embedded herself with trust fund spiritualists at the home of a man of state whose letters are being assessed for publication.
That's a setup not a plot, of course. I think I meant the poet and the clerical chap assessing the letters to be poor outsiders dazed and grudging of the rich inhabitants, and that they teamed up to Expose... something?
What can we make it into?
The seven plots are overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy, and rebirth.
Hey Google, I say, pick a number from one to seven.
She chooses 5, so it's to be a comedy. Thank goodness.
The statesman wants the spiritualists to be discredited, and offers the poet a barrowload of cash to Expose their leader's fraud.
The spiritualist daughters don't want their father's papers published because... because he's self-important enough already? Because they are ideologically opposed to the choices he made in office? Because it would be embarrassing? All of those reasons, coming out one after another? They offer the poet a barrowload of cash to wordplay statesdad into withdrawing from the project.
The statesman says he is agin the spiritualists for purely rational reasons but secretly he doesn't care if the other world is accessible, he just wants his daughters extracted from this scene of takers.
Do I write it as though the spirit world is real or not real?
Hey Google. Flip a coin.
Heads. Real. Interesting!
The setup - introduce characters and setting the breakfast table - Sarah is out of her depth - the statesman's daughters 23 and 27, Sarah 26, the statesman 63, I wonder what year it is? I don't even know what decade it is. the 70s? Say it's 1975. He was born in 1912, a toddler in the great war, his father [flips coin] survived with a prosthetic [spins wheel] right leg and died in 1929, His mother died in 1931 of a... lymphatic cancer. He studied Latin and German, graduated into the Home Office in 1934, The obvious ensued. Then he was driving a desk until demob when he was 33 and married a cousin who had been widowed of a man the family hadn't approved in the first place, but you can't say that when he died in enough bits to pin one medal on each.
she's younger, say 21, which makes her born in 1924 and 51 at the time of the story. she tries very hard to be a background character to his historically relevant life, running the house effortlessly so that he is never inconvenienced. But she does get lost in novels and is sometimes late to sleep. Revises the topics of interest of his contacts so that she can ask carefully unintelligent questions at dinner without accidentally asking anything provocative or novel. Their names are Michael and Rachel, and are never abbreviated, ever.
So the daughters were born in 1948 and 1952, left sixth forms in 1966 and 1970, with all that that implies, and now it's 1975. They are Judith and Janet. Ditty and Netty. No, Dits and Nets. No, Ditty and Nets.
Ditty was engaged and lived with him... Nets tries to be a bluestocking - light academia girl. What happened to Ditty's man? Ran off with a... no, joined a church. A new church. We don't say cult, I don't know if the word was around.
Stuff about gnosis ensues.
This can't all come out at the breakfast table on Sarah's first morning, and I haven't even figured out when Sarah was born and to whom. Alright then, she's an orphan, cancer for the mother at the same age as the statesman, they can discuss it later - wait, how old was he? 19. So Sarah born 1949, mother dies in 1968. Discussion about not talking about illness ensues. Father dies a year later of [spins wheel] lung disease from work.
Ten Chairs At Breakfast
Chatelaine Rachel, son Lewis, nephew George, statesman Michael, poet Sarah, daughter Ditty, daughter Nets, clerk Horace, languid Rowena, glittering Lily.
What if the son and nephew were the ghosts? It's 1975. What if they wrecked their car in their late teens? So the dead are clueless helpful upper class boys, eager to impress but no hormonal motive.
That's actually kind of adorable.