Since I'm at this stage on the second book, here's the intermediate step between the short (2 page) synopsis and the longer "outline" draft. As always, major spoilers for QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS follows. I'm presenting this as it was written, typos and everything laid bare. There's maybe even a few things that I never picked up on and whoops.
Hmm. Part 1 isn't here. I wonder where it went.
-- SPOILERS FOLLOW
Arguing about placement of the body discovery scene, keep it as close to beginning as possible.
Keeps things moving
Brings in cops earlier (depends if I want to emphasize or make it scarier by saying that they can't help.)
Makes the meeting with Ariella awkward, if not even impossible.
Makes Cait seem foolhardy for even doing this.
- Revenge driven?
- Curiosity driven
- Oh, make it so that her desire for attention makes it impossible to stay away even when Rico is dead. Yay. Fixed.
IT IS FIXED. HURRAH.
Cops grill her
Stay in town
Finish book/revisit book
Meet with cult
The Cult wants only the book, but they will pay. So long as none of their activities come up with the police. (Also intimation that the cult has friends/agents in the police force and they'd know, or they could manufacture evidence putting Cait intimately at the crime, but this doesn't have to happen if eveyrone is smart.)
Cait won't have a choice after finding Rico's body and being hauled in as a material witness by Joe Darnel from murder squad (and parter Paul Levin). Cait passes Rico off as a friend she's known for a long time (his sister works at the salon she visits). No she doesn't know about anyone who'd want to hurt him. No she doesn't know about any killings that might fit this pattern. Does she know anything about old books? Valuable books? Maybe one that would be worth killing over. Rico did most of his work in his head, didn't keep a bank account, stashed money in his apartment, maybe discovery that he made phone calls to a public booth near Cait's apartment on a regular basis, like clockwork. Maybe admission that she sells books, but doesn't know about this one. She might even be a good liar. Of course, the cult is watching this or maybe they even have contacts in the department. She should stay in town even though that's the last thing she wants to do.
TURN: THE BOOK IS THE ONE SHE WRITES
- Fallout from Rico's death and ritualistic nature. No Tomorrows or a violent weirdo?
- Cops and debriefing/questioning regarding her involvement with Rico and Rico's way of life.
- Good cop/Bad cop. She is told to stay in town until this is settled, material witness. ONE OF THE COPS is following her on suspicion that she's holding back. Low-key.
- Book collection in Rico's apartment, suggestion that he was making business opportunities where he shouldn't.
- Cops suggest open and shut drug involvement to case, but only recreational quantities of usual drugs (weed/coke).
- Something about occult books and the circle around them.
- Invitation from No Tomorrows and explicit statement that they want the SMOKING CODEX
- Cait is freaked out because that's a book she's faking. It's not real. She's writing it.
- Little short on cult and weirdness content.
- Remember the uncanny.
Cait is stuck between two very sharp rocks. She has no illusions about what the cult will do if they get the book. It's clear that Rico was killed by them over it, and that he gave up Cait's location to them. They can find her and there's no getting out from under that. She also doesn't want to give up the business she's built for herself. She likes the business, at least until it comes to life. Ariella, who has met with Cait, is strange and screwed up and believes in a way that Cait simply can't accept. This stuff is very real to her. To Cait it's just fiction, one that was fun to create but now that it seems to be breathing itself to life, it's not fun anymore. She wonders what is actually going on, but not to any great depth. She thinks on it some, maybe makes some additions to the Codex as a kind of backdoor escape route. But she is interrupted in this by a cultist and a THING from nightmare which could have only come from the CODEX - a humanoid servant which sees with eyes in its palms, eyes stolen from Rico (will need something distinctive to make it work, but also make it plausible.) **Need to make it so that it's not directly out of the book, but like a sideways reading, but *feels* like it could've come from it. Easy**
TURN: WHAT SHE IS WRITING MAY BE REAL
- Meeting with Ariella. Need to have this is a club, etc. Dreamlike and strange.
- The order is upset. This should not be taking place. Rico shouldn't be dead.
- Possible that one of the cops is tailing her.
- Entranced with her own work, maybe it's real?
- COSMIC MYSTERY AND MENACE
- Maybe Ariella suspects that it's fake and doesn't care.
- Cop freaking out at the meeting.
- Cait breaks off meeting, disappearing. Wants out of this, but it's taken a life of its own.
- End on thing from her book that has become real. Maybe the cuts on the hand.
PART 3 ENDS
**Diversion to the bookseller or someone else who can mybe get Cait out of this. Possibly even contact one of the cops but have it turned badly. She wants to get out of the situation and might even give up her freedom for it. Besides, she's just selling art, right? Possibly someone at her heels about the fakes**
Cait and the cult face off, at least in short. Distract the assailant with a threat to destroy the CODEX and somehow get his pet to kill him instead. She pockets the obsidian knife that he's carrying. Ancient, unbelievably old and sharp, a strangeness to it. With this, she is able to cut the creature, which bleeds stars. Enrages it and the cult assassin gets between it and her, ending his own life (in a way distinctly different from Rico). **Where does this take place? Her office? Neutral location? Get feeling of kidnap/theft/coercion gone too far**
TURN: ACTUAL CREATURE/EXPERIENCE FROM THE CODEX. WORD MADE REAL
- Cait escapes the meeting, but is followed.
- Cop is suspicious based on her meeting with No Tomorrows. Looks pretty bad.
- Sense that the cult is larger than it lets on and is always watching.
- Gathering strangeness.
- Revisiting the book and realizing it's closer than she thought.
- Contacts the cops, finds out that she's been watched and she either comes in as material witness or suspect. Can't. Won't.
- End on the Cult Thing and an assassin at her home/workplace.
PART 4 ENDS
Maybe she has to find the answer to the book's power by confronting the cult? This would make her a stronger character, facing things down. But she'll be prepared with the knife. It would be unexpected, and perhaps Ariella would respect the guts of that move. "Let's find out the truth of it together." Cops try to move in on things and it becomes more complicated. Cult uses plain old guns and ammo to keep the cops away. Cait tries to warn the two of them off, but Paul won't listen. Something goes badly and the cops can't help and Cait is in the hands of the Cult with the CODEX being held by Ariella. Weird connection between the two of them, because Cait is the hand of Ariella's god, the means by which it can be born into this world from fiction. Cait also compelled by her own work and it's unforeseen power, can't destroy it and instead yields to it.
TURN: SHE IS IN THE HANDS OF THE CULT BY HER OWN CHOICE
- Struggle with the Cult Thing which she may or may not have invented.
- Struggle with her own involvement in this.
- INCLUSION OF WHITE OBSIDIAN RITUAL KNIFE
- Who makes the world?
- Has to distract/enrage the thing enough to make it take care of the cult assassin.
- Possibly cops showing up at her door. Maybe good cop. He has to see something to convince him that this is beyond her or anyone's control.
- Ends with her realizing there isn't an escape and instead taking the book (and the knife) to the Queen of No Tomorrows.
PART 5 ENDS
Above the hills **set a location** of Los Angeles, a remarkably chaste sort of ceremony is taking place. Costume drama. But this is about more than birthing a god, but birthing a goddess in the form of Ariella. Ariella is using this coup to take out her superior in the cult, who is not the fanatic perhaps that she is. To everyone's surprise except maybe Ariella's, the ceremony seems to work. Walls between worlds break down and the Veil of Uncounted Eyes makes an appearance. It is terrible and compelling, and the first thing Ariella orders it to do is to consume Cait. She has no purpose any longer. Imagination has become reality and the loop needs to be closed. But Cait has the knife, which is capable of harming even fictional things like the Veil. A tentacle/feeler closes around Cait's hair and Cait uses the knife to cut through, wounding the manifestation. All hell breaks loose. Ariella's faith is shaken and she dies for it. The Veil does the cosmic indifference thing and eats those who summoned it and their fancy cars, too.
Cait is torn between looking under Ariella's veil to see the truth, if she has been altered as the CODEX suggested. Minister's Black Veil moment. She finally refuses to definitively answer the question for herself, leaving Schrodinger's cat alive. Or dead. Is there magic or not? She can't bring herself to answer it because then she would have to reconsider her own place in the universe and whether it was one of power or not. But she'll never create another occult text again. Not even to write fiction.
- Everything goes to hell. Or hell comes here.
- Who makes the world?
- Cait makes the world
- Cuts herself free and in doing so sets the thing loose on the gathered cult.
- But ultimate revelation is one she cannot face. She doesn't have strength to. She already knows its real.
Denoument 1 - the King of No Tomorrows surveys the work done by Ariella and her subsequent downfall. He doesn't understand what happened or how, but knows that the shell-shocked Cait is responsible for Ariella's failure and he always pays back his debts. He tells Cait that all she has to do is ask a favor and it will be hers. But she had best steer clear of No Tomorrows and they will be told to do the same. He melts away, if he was ever there.
Denoument 2 - the cops come and find that the place is a mess. Argument over what to do with Cait since she's about the only one left alive, but she's seen better days. Good cop sees the knife and hides it from the bad cop.
- Part 6 might be overly long. Bias other parts length to compensate. Long 1 and 6, short 2-5.