I don’t think I’ve never told you about my (someday written) novel, mindskill. So, I was going to summarize it and I don’t think I can do that. There are almost too many plots in my head right now.
The important part: Vanessa is a college student who comes home for a friend’s wedding only to be attacked. She kills the man but in a panic, she flees to avoid prison. Along the way she is told that she has a special skill of telepathy, whose development has thus far been a secret to most people.
She discovers that her father was (he died about six months from the beginning of the book) heavily involved in the development of the telepathy. It was he who gave it to her, because she had the plan of going into law enforcement as well. My idea behind her dad was that he was rather naive in his belief that by allow police to know immediately whether a person was lying or not would prevent innocent people from going to jail and enable better investigations, making the world safer.
Problems I ran into were two fold. 1) How would this be physically done? 2) Why would a kind father do this to his daughter? 3) Other complications that result for questionable things. (Including the fact that this intelligent doctor is very naive and I can’t imagine that happening.)
In part because of those reasons, I discard that plot in favor of writing short stories. But after a little bit of writing short stories, I wanted to write one of (the more rounded) characters in this story. So I started thinking about it and playing with it and I think I am going to have to make a serious change which I can’t say I like the idea of doing.
See, up until this point, I have been thinking of the dad as a good guy. Maybe slightly misinformed but generally good. If I change that, some things start falling into place.
BEFORE: Dad worked in a place generally like America (I haven’t decided if it is or not yet. I know. Bad writer.) the whole time, Vanessa and Dad lived in a nice house, and life was pretty good. Vanessa was busy at school doing school things and Dad was at work but everything was pretty much fine.
Dad insisted on privacy and gave it to his daughter as a gift.
NOW: Mom died (tragically) when Vanessa was ten. I knew this and this has not changed. However, Dad, in overwhelm grief, runs away to work in, say, Africa, sending Vanessa to boarding school. While in Africa, Dad probably catches up with some people, and they discover telepathy and start selling it to countries as a weapon, playing very much of a double faced game, where they say that America has to buy it or else they’ll sell it to Iran, and telling Iran the same thing, selling it to both the countries with neither of them knowing it.
When Vanessa comes home for summer, Dad is generally detached and distant, but so much that he doesn’t a) realize where this will be heading to in the near future and b) actually give it to her as a protection for when these powers clash.
As a result, when she is finds out that she has the telepathy, she would have actually joined the group that her dad left behind her. Her dad’s death would have been a result of clashing opinions (between him, who wants to continue doing what they are doing, and Karl, who wants to start taking over the government and doing government reformation.(Yes, there is more to Karl; I’m not making him a faceless evil overlord. I’ve given that advice a bit too much.))
It’s drastic, I know. It would be hard enough for her without finding out that her dad was a traitor to the country and probably wanted by someone. But I think that sometimes we as writers need to let go of our preconceptions of characters and think outside of the box. Yeah, sure, we think outside of the box a lot as it is, but outside of outside of the box maybe?
It helps my problems is the biggest reason for this unexpected change. It makes sense too. It changes some things with my other characters, namely Isaiah, who works as a special investigation person, and changes a lot, but I haven’t really written much to change. Only some fifty odd pages that I planned on discarding most of anyway. Still… it helps a lot. And imagine this: you’re reading my book and you just find out that the main character’s dad is actually a bad guy! (And just pretend you didn’t just read this whole post first.) It would most certainly be unexpected, which is what I always go for.