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Dave Bryant


Please consider buying me a Ko-fi • I have a vocabulary and I’m not afraid to use it.

More Blog Posts123

  • 24 weeks
    No idea

    Three-act Play and Rose Brass took a lot out of me, to the point I’m not sure what if anything is left. That’s not to say I’m leaving or anything like that; I still pop on Fimfiction frequently, I still read stories, I still participate through comments or notes or the occasional journal post. I still want to finish the stories in progress or planned—but it seems I’m wrung

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    4 comments · 84 views
  • 30 weeks
    Choice cuts 0: the original story notes

    Before Scampy and I even started on Three-act Play, we sat down for a marathon five-hour initial story conference. I boiled down the Discord transcript to a ten-page Adobe InDesign document—yes, I use that instead of a word processor, sue me—and generated a PDF file. In turn, I pulled the text from that PDF file, pasted it here, and cleaned it up a little. I abbreviated the three primary

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    0 comments · 72 views
  • 31 weeks
    Finishing up Lectern’s: Fall Semester

    I really do need to finish the Ogres & Oubliettes game. As usual, the trouble I’m having is finding a narrative line. The only practicable thing to do is to string together a succession of vignettes, similar to the first installment, which means coming up with those vignettes. Spoilers ahoy!

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    0 comments · 57 views
  • 33 weeks
    Pointless ruminations on Sunset’s flat, because I am an architecture nerd

    While reconstructing Sunset’s idiosyncratic living space, I realized it actually is laid out quite poorly. In no way, however, should that be considered a negative criticism of the art and animation staff! I have seen equally or more awkward arrangements in the real world, especially in older constructions.

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    8 comments · 124 views
  • 34 weeks
    Sunset’s loft flat

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    5 comments · 137 views
May
1st
2022

Choice cuts 0: the original story notes · 7:49pm May 1st

Before Scampy and I even started on Three-act Play, we sat down for a marathon five-hour initial story conference. I boiled down the Discord transcript to a ten-page Adobe InDesign document—yes, I use that instead of a word processor, sue me—and generated a PDF file. In turn, I pulled the text from that PDF file, pasted it here, and cleaned it up a little. I abbreviated the three primary characters’ names to their respective initial letters: W for Wallflower Blush, S for Sunset Shimmer, and R for Rose Brass.
   The story as written ended up straying considerably from this initial rough outline, but then that’s the way it always works, and it’s fascinating to compare the two. Most of all, we underestimated to a comedic extent the magnitude of the project we’d set for ourselves.

Act I summary

S learns W is going to wind up homeless by the end of the month, when she loses her apartment, and calls R for help. Possibly takes place just before the story starts.
   R meets with W, who, while appearing shut down and reserved, still proves passively resistant. They discuss the Memory Stone, W’s family, and why she wiped their memories. This girl is clearly more fragile than most other cases R has handled. R is picking up hints that W may be a suicide risk and takes precautions as necessary, setting her up in a halfway house with strict guidelines that W loathes.
   After some digging, R finds documentation to prove W’s parents are, well, her parents. She calls them in, but only W’s mother shows up. She seems reluctant at first, but between the pictures and evidence, she’s starting to come around. R agrees to meet her and her husband at their home to discuss next steps.
   Meanwhile, S visits W and gives her a potted plant. It’s in a crappy plastic pot—R wouldn’t allow ceramics—but it’s something. While there, she does her best to comfort her friend, partially driven by the guilt of being the one who destroyed the Memory Stone and left W with no way to support herself.
   R meets with W’s parents, but only her father speaks, and does not allow R to enter their house. He flat out refuses to take W in, regardless of whatever documents R has to “prove” they’re her parents and somehow magically forgot. Besides, if this girl is 18, they’re not responsible for her anyway, parents or not. W’s mother stands behind her husband, silent the entire time.
   S meets with W again and learns how things are going. W’s been following the guidelines R laid out for her. S takes that and W’s generally relaxed attitude as signs her friend is doing okay. The last time S sees W, she seems to be more positive—almost wistful. S sees her friend being less downtrodden and takes it as a good thing, not recognizing that W has given up on herself entirely.
   There needs to be some mention of inpatient, probably a R/S scene. S asks about the long term and R tells her there’s a place, but it has a waiting list of a couple of weeks. The night before W is scheduled to go, S visits her for one last time. When R arrives to pick her up in the morning, there’s the falling scene, and R isn’t able to get to her in time.

General notes

Scampy: In terms of things progressing, I think things can seem to progress quite a bit—like they get to a similar point as the sirens’ mall outing, maybe just past that point. W doesn’t do anything because she’s resigned herself to following the rules R laid out, for however long she has to until she gets her opportunity. So to R, and S if she asks about it, it seems W is trying to get better, when she’s actually biding her time.
   In Amphorae, Adagio’s suicide attempt was the climax of the plot, with the emotional climax being the catharsis in the hospital room. Can’t copy that, so here’s a thought. If W makes an attempt, maybe it’s sprung on the reader in the middle of the story—and maybe it’s not successful, but she’s in much worse shape than Adagio afterwards.

Dave: R would be watching for it, especially with Adagio relatively fresh in her mind.

Scampy: This is true, which is why I think W making an attempt mid-story be all the more powerful. Because it shows that even when she’s at her best, R can lose.

Dave: The jumping is plausible, and provides both the right amount of set-up and an opportunity for striving and failing on R’s part—as well as a metaphor for her larger failure.

Scampy: And sets a clear split between acts. The second W hits the ground, everything is different. Nothing can ever go back to the way it was. If R, if S gets a second chance, they’re not going to waste it this time.

Parents

Scampy: For our purposes, W had the stone for a few months—at a minimum, long enough to decide to use it on her parents. There are a couple of schools of thought. One is that she really did decide she was going to leave her family. The other is that she was backed into a corner and lashed out with the only tool she had.
   If we wanna dial it up to 11 because this is a W story and she’s perfect for that: abusive parent, W locks herself in her room, parent bangs on the door screaming. She looks to her bag and sees her only way out. Then, as soon as she’s used the stone, the consequences come rushing forth.
   Destroying the stone is the only way to restore memories, which W didn’t know. Of course, being W, she’d blame herself for the whole situation. If she’d just taken her punishment, or better yet not angered her parent at all, she wouldn’t be sitting in this scary office with this intimidating lady with an eyepatch and it’s all her own damn fault.

Dave: I’m favoring one being abusive, though probably not physically or sexually, and the other being an enabler.

Scampy: I don’t think sexually abusive. I think sporadically physically abusive. Maybe he’s struck her hard once or twice, but the rest is low-key, and he always apologizes later, because he’s not a bad father—she’s a bad daughter.
   She’s not getting regular beatings, but her dad has hit her more than once. Every time is harder than the last, and maybe she’s never seen him so mad before. She’s scared he’ll hurt her badly this time or even kill her—the stone really is her only way out.

Dave: Getting in her space, yelling at her, poking her in the upper chest with a finger.

Scampy: Exactly. Her using the stone when backed into a corner needs to feel earned. She really needs to be in serious physical danger and her only way to avoid it is to erase their memories, cuz that makes what follows all the more painful. S, and later R, can say all they want there really was nothing else she could have done—W knows the truth. She knows she deserves this.

Dave: There’s still a birth certificate, enrollment record, and all the other things proving her existence and relationships.

Scampy: Definitely true and the first avenue R would search for. Senior year; W’s 18. Can you force parents to take care of a child they insist isn’t theirs? Even if the child is terrified of going back, and is begging please don’t send her back—even if moments earlier she was beating herself up for leaving, cuz in W’s mind, those two things don’t have to contradict.

Dave: I prefer the abusive father/enabler mother dynamic.

Scampy: That totally works too, and gives an extra bit of heartache, like if R finds them and presents them with all this proof that this girl is their daughter, and the father refuses. The mother just stays silent and goes along with it, which gives a hint of the dynamic W was living with.

Dave: I’d prefer them to meet in R’s office, but the typical personality that goes with the father’s profile might refuse to show up.

Scampy: Maybe the mother shows up and makes some comments about how W looks so much like her, seems wistful, even accepting—then quickly reverts and says she has to talk it over with her husband. Because he won’t show up, R has to go to him, and the next time we see W’s mom, she’s standing behind her husband, almost hidden, shamefully even, staying silent as he gives refusal after refusal.

Dave: I’m thinking they’re put out of the picture early on. R might go to family court if necessary to make arrangements. It would simplify things both for R and authorially.

Scampy: Yeah, they’d be out of the way early, I think. Agreed.

Lead-up

Scampy: Given W’s circumstances in this story and her core character traits, is she a suicide risk? Gotta give R a challenge, after all, and not just a logistical one.
   Probably not very up front about it, but sometime in that month when she was sitting alone in that room, she let the bad thoughts in and they never went away. Maybe she wonders if she should’ve wiped her own mind entirely along with everyone else’s of her.

Dave: She’s been depressed for a long time, but only recently has it gotten that bad, is my feeling.

Scampy: Definitely. I think she got that depressed during the time she was on her own, probably after a week or two of it, so that would be less than a month before the story.

Dave: And she hasn’t told anyone.

Scampy: Of course not. She knows about S’s power and won’t let S touch her. Plus, physically abused girls don’t tend to be huggers. So no one knows, but R might pick up on some hints. She’s been through this before, after all.

Dave: Yeah, R would have seen it all before. And it’s clear S’s power, like the stone’s, is very selective. Anything she isn’t looking for specifically, she doesn’t see.

Scampy: True, but W wouldn’t take any chances.

Dave: I’d have to be careful about bringing suicide on-stage, since I already have used it in Amphorae.

Scampy: True enough, but I think it’s a different kind of thing here. Thats why I think it’d be better to have it be an event in the middle of the story, rather than the climax of it. It opens more doors, rather than being what’s behind the door.

Dave: R would be watching for it, especially with Adagio relatively fresh in her mind.

Scampy: This is true, which I think would make W making an attempt mid-story be all the more powerful. Because it shows that even when she’s at her best, R can lose.
   First possibility is that there is no specific trigger for it— W’s planned it, she’s had it in mind this whole time, to take the first chance she could get. After all, R can’t keep her from this forever.
   I think it adds to the initial shock, and then, in the second act, the pieces fall into place. it’s almost like a mystery thing. The evidence doesn’t all have to be laid bare before the crime.
   W’s staying in a place four stories up, that has a window she can open. She asks for something small—a potted plant she could take care of—and S agrees to bring it to her. R tells S it has to be a plastic pot; no ceramics, cuz those could be broken into sharp shards.
   I’m not sure where W’s staying—probably something where the staff aren’t trained in restrictions, so W could ask someone there if they could unlock her window for her, so she could put her plant on the windowsill. It needs direct sunlight, you see. She can’t have it inside, or it’ll die.

Dave: But something like an inpatient facility or halfway house would be effectively mandatory?

Scampy: That’s up to R. I think a halfway house would work better. Inpatient facilities would hardly involve R; they have their own staff—I used to be one of them.

Dave: And R doesn’t want to create a situation that feels smothering to W.

Scampy: Yes, exactly, and W takes advantage of that. In the end it’s yet another thing S feels guilty for, because she gave W the plant, the means to coax the staff into unlocking the window. For W, it was all only a means to an end, because at this point she’s just resigned. She’ll play their game, follow their rules, but if she sees her chance, she’s going to take it.

Suicide attempt

Scampy: R knows W doesn’t like being touched, but maybe has a rule W has to hold someone’s hand when out and about, just in case. She’s not taking chances. As W starts to recover, or at least show signs of it, R agrees as a sort of goalpost some of those uncomfortable restrictions get lifted. She puts her trust in W that she really is getting better, but W tries to throw her life away the first chance she gets.

Dave: Would jumping work?

Scampy: Yes. For Last Light, I chose 6 stories. I looked up a lot of studies on the fatality of falling from height. At 7 stories, it’s ~90%; at 4 stories, it’s ~50%. Six was high, but not so high as to take away the tension for the reader.

Dave: R is just the sort to quote statistics like that, too. Here’s my thought: R goes to pick up W. She’s walking up to the building, sees W, possibly in the window. That’s a bit unusual, since the normal arrangement is to meet in the lobby— to give W at least a little sense of privacy and autonomy— but not massively out of line. It’s only when W climbs out she starts becoming alarmed. She never would think twice about sprinting forward, no matter how unlikely success would be. “Even if she won the race, she would lose.”

Scampy: Absolutely. She’d be out of that car and running as fast as she could the second she realized what was going on. Maybe R is not quite fast enough to make it, and is there just in time to see W strike the pavement not ten feet ahead of her. She is confident enough in herself to know she can do this, she has to do this. The possibility that she can’t never even crosses her mind. But she can’t. She did everything right, everything she could, and it wasn’t enough.
   For the reader, it hits that perfect spot of sudden horrified shock, which feels inevitable on further thinking, and it’s the same for R. She put every precaution she could in place.
   R blames herself—she even blames W. S blames herself. When W wakes up she’ll blame herself, both for attempting and for failing, because she’s a mess and dialectics work both ways.
   R put her trust in W. She laid down guidelines, and promised that if W followed them, and made improvements, she’d regain more autonomy as time went on. W agreed to that, reluctantly as she may have done so.
   To R, and to the reader, it feels like the first or second of these restrictions being lifted is proof that the story is going to be about a slow, steady recovery from the deepest pits of depression. Then in an instant everything changes, and suddenly, looking back, all those pieces that looked to be showing one picture are so clearly showing another.

Dave: There’d have to be some precipitating circumstance.

Scampy: Absolutely, though there are patients who will play along, then as soon as they get the chance—yeah.

Dave: But when writing a story, one has to make such a bolt from the blue plausible enough to satisfy the audience.

Scampy: Maybe that’s the question of the second act—R and S asking themselves why. She was doing so well, why would she do this? There’d be hints in the first act leading up to it, even things you wouldn’t quite expect, like a sudden change in attitude towards the restrictions, from “please don’t touch me” to “if that’s what it takes.”

Dave: From resistance to resignation.

Scampy: Exactly. She’ll play R’s game, because what does it matter? She’ll be dead soon anyway. Someone holding her hand on the sidewalk won’t change that. “Get over it, W, be strong for once in your life.”
   So what looks to R to be progress is in actuality one step closer to the edge. When the moment strikes, the reader looks back at all those signs of “progress” and sees them for what they really were.
   Adagio’s attempt felt like a slow, dreadful lead-up that you could see coming from a mile away, which definitely hurts. W’s would hurt in an entirely different way, and in a way that achieves what I think is the best part about fiction— the reader feels exactly what the protagonist feels.

Dave: What would be really funny in a dark way is if she lets go before she means to. “I can’t even get that right.” Maybe her fingers slip on some slick surface element (quoin).

Scampy: Ooh yeah, and her last thoughts were that adrenal fear fading into just being okay with it.

Time

Scampy: FF is late in their senior year, coming up on graduation.

Dave: Exactly when in relation to the stone’s destruction do you figure she erased parental memories?

Scampy: Probably at most a month—enough time for her to really sink further and further into the self-loathing we see in the show.

Dave: Virga takes place during the movie. The time window available for the story is about four, maybe five months.

Scampy: Four or five months is plenty of time. You mentioned W with graduation earlier. Does your story with the graduation include her in it? Is she present or mentioned?

Dave: I haven’t written about the graduation at all, just alluded to it.

Scampy: That makes this a lot easier. I think W’s attempt would probably happen shortly after—maybe shortly before? For S to be present during her recovery, her real recovery in inpatient, the earlier the better. In that situation, S’s the kind of person who’d drop everything to be there for her friend, especially someone she’s obsessively protective of given recent events.
   Inpatient stays usually last 1–3 months; [the facility that served us as a model] had a 90-day program that started inpatient, then depending on how they were progressing, they could be ‘moved up’ to outpatient, usually around 6–8 weeks. So I’m trying to think of the best span of time for S to be able to just throw herself into volunteering at the facility for W.

Dave: Probably during the summer break after, I would think. After all, the whole story has to take place between distribution of yearbooks, which usually is right at school year’s end, and the departure in Virga.

Structure

Scampy: I think the major POV characters of this would be R and S, possibly not even W herself. It’s all from the outside looking in.
   I don’t know about the rest of the girls, for a couple of reasons. One, their efforts might not be reciprocated by W, and I don’t think they made much effort in canon, so far as I’ve seen. Two, I think it works better for W to have just one connection left after having zero, only to find herself wishing she could go back to zero, because then no one would care if she was gone. The focus is W, S, and R. No need to muddy the waters.

Dave: I suspect a lot of the narrative will be told as interactions between S and R.

Scampy: Probably. If we get W’s perspective, I imagine it’ll be later, like with Adagio. I think S would be a lot more involved with W’s case and recovery than she was with the sirens, partly because she feels like she owes it to W.

Dave: Amphorae is roughly 17.5 k words. Any sense for whether this should be longer, shorter, or in the same ballpark? I’m trying to get a grasp on the scope of work.

Scampy: Probably a bit longer. I guess it depends, but I think there’s more that goes on in this story than in Amphorae.

Dave: So, maybe in the 18–20 k range. Probably longer than Amphorae but maybe not as long as Mister Cook Goes to Canterlot, but that’s only a rough estimate. I need to have some idea whether I’m looking at a foothill or a mountain.

Scampy: Definitely a foothill. 20 k sounds about right.

Act II summary

While W is unconscious in hospital, S uses her magic and realizes what she said to W years ago, and how much impact that had on her. But W made S promise not to use her magic on her, a hint to astute readers at W’s state of mind. She doesn’t want S knowing how bad she is, what she’s thinking about doing.
   It’d be extra hard for the readers if W doesn’t wake up for a couple chapters—really drive home there’s no guarantee. But when W finally does, S stays quiet about it at first rather than admit she read W’s mind.
   W’s early time in treatment and PT go horribly. S trails along the whole time, as she volunteered to help, and she needs W to know she was wrong but she broke a promise to find that out and with how fragile W is, and with S being the one person she trusts, learning that trust was broken could be devastating.
   After a couple of weeks seeing her friend suffer more and more, unable to walk, unable to feel, just resigned to exist as she’s told to exist, do what she’s told to do with no life or emotion or anything behind those eyes, the dam breaks.
   Act two ends with S telling W the truth, that she knows what she said, and that she needs W to know she was wrong. That’s the turning point, and the scene could really be played up. It’d be the first time after waking up after her attempt that W shows any genuine emotion. It would just be a flood of it, just all that pain being let go.

General notes

Dave: W is angry, but can see S is and was really suffering, which both drove her to breaking her promise for W’s own good, and to keeping the secret for so long.

Scampy: Maybe she’s not even angry—or she is, but she’s so angry and sad and overjoyed and scared and all the emotions that have been frozen in stasis for weeks are all just surging forth at once. She can’t tell what’s what or why she’s crying, she’s just crying and she can’t stop. It shocks her out of her post-attempt reverie with undeniable proof S’s not pretending. The end of act one is W giving up; the end of act two is W deciding to try, if not for herself at first, then for S—and then for herself too.

Dave: At some point she has to realize giving up would be a betrayal of S. And she has to come to that on her own.

Scampy: And S deserves better. W deserves better.

Dave: . . . What if the plant dies anyway?

Scampy: Maybe it dies after. S or R go back to the room to get something W left behind, and the plant’s just dead in a corner.

Dave: Especially if she didn’t actually take care of it.

Scampy: Exactly. She just stuffed it in the corner. Maybe she did so on purpose, to let it get kinda browned, so she could go to the staff with it and say it needs direct sunlight.

Dave: And they probably wouldn’t know beans about it.

Scampy: Yup. Well, W isn’t lying—or maybe she is, who knows?

Aftermath

Dave: Do we have an adequate skeleton for the first part?

Scampy: Yup, and a little bit of what follows—S in the ICU, using her magic and seeing the memory of her bullying W.

Dave: And crying, of course.

Scampy: Oh god yes. What if she’s crying so much because she just can’t understand, why would W do this? She was doing better, R said so herself. She has to know why.
   W told S never to use her magic on W, and S promised, but she has to know, so if—when W wakes up, they’ll be better prepared to help. In doing so, she discovers that horrible truth, that she put the seeds of thought in W’s head all those years ago.
   Her insults were always tailored to the victim, to hit at their weakest point. S doesn’t remember—W wiped her memories of W herself—but at one point, S threw out a scathing remark, like “No one would even care if you just disappeared,” which is W’s greatest insecurity.
   If S is the only conscious person in the room, she’ll have no one to share this horrible truth with. The memory fades, the glow in her eyes goes away, and she just sits back into the chair beside the bed knowing this is all her fault.

Dave: And we don’t have to inform the reader immediately.

Scampy: Absolutely. Again, the reader is in the same boat as S. They’d want to know why too. W was doing better, right? So why? It flips everything on its head; everything that came before takes on a new meaning.

Dave: S has thoughts like “if—no, when” W wakes up. Because she can’t bear the thought of W not doing so, out of both guilt and genuine concern.

Scampy: Exactly. That uncertainty is so terrifying that she chooses to ignore it entirely. W has to wake up, because S still has to apologize. It wouldn’t be fair; she needs W to know that she was wrong when she said those awful things years ago, that people would care. So when W does wake up, it’s to a very different situation. All the cards are on the table now, so from here on out, the recovery is genuine.
   So why did she jump? She deserves it. S was right to say that. Her dad was right to hit her. Her mom was right to ignore her. All she ever does is cause problems for the people around her, make their lives harder, make them miserable. The one time she had any influence on the world, and she used it to ruin S’s life because . . . what, she was envious? Or maybe she just wanted to prove that she could influence the world? It doesn’t matter, it was heinous all the same.

Dave: It also would be a real twist for S, because it reveals something bigger and darker behind her machinations.

Scampy: Exactly. And besides, it’s not so bad, W is going to get this one thing right, she’s doing the right thing for them. She’s making up for all the problems she’s caused. This is her way to give back to the people she’s hurt—by making sure she can never hurt them again. They want this. They’d never say it, they might not even know it, but they need this and so does she. Because more than anything, she’s tired. She’s just tired. Her life doesn’t matter anyway, not to anyone, and not to herself. And it’s okay, really. S might be sad now, but she’ll see eventually. She’ll be okay.

Dave: S blames herself for the whole ball of wax, when in fact she’s only an aggravating factor. So she feels much more guilt than really is warranted.

Scampy: Oh, absolutely. S blames herself for so damn much with W. There’s a reason that the first thing she says in the parking lot scene is “I’m sorry”.
   In a way, W wishes S was right. She tells herself S had to have been right when she said that. In her depression-addled mind, things get so twisted up that things don’t have to follow logically to make sense to her. S is her friend, her only friend, the only person she trusts in the world. But S once told her no one would care if she disappeared, so it’s implicitly giving herself permission.

Wallflower

Scampy: She’s a total sweetie, and her defining character trait is that she hates herself. I think W hates the idea of S more than S as a person. S has everything W ever wanted and more, even after all the horrible things she did. But again, it all boils down to W hating herself.
   Why didn’t she have any friends? Because she erased people’s memories of every interaction she had with them. And why did she do that? Because she felt like she screwed it up. And why did she feel like that? Because of course she screwed it up. She screws everything up.
   I like to compare W and Fluttershy to make a clear example of her character. Fluttershy is anxious of what others are going to do; W is anxious of what she’s going to do.
   W is not an evil plotting mastermind, she’s a scared, stupid kid lashing out like a cornered animal.

Dave: During the installment of The Campus I plan to have S ask how she is and W give an answer of “better days, worse days, but okay overall”.

Scampy: Ooooh, that could allude to her mentally and physically; like, she can walk and function again, but it still hurts sometimes and she’s just learned to live with it.
   I think R is trying to do for her what she did for the sirens, because without the stone, W can’t provide for herself any more. In one of my stories, W develops a scheme, using the stone to shoplift from small stores without cameras, then returning the items to make money, which she uses to rent a cheap apartment. She could have been sustaining herself before the stone was destroyed but—just like with the sirens— S and her friends taking away W’s access to magic had the side effect of destroying whatever means she had of sustaining herself.

Dave: So R is trying to help her set up on her own, like S.

Scampy: With one major difference: W is a total wreck. She’s a poster child for mental illness. But yeah, same goal. Getting there is going to be much, much harder.

Dave: Why does W jump right then and not earlier or later?

Scampy: The night before W will be checked into the inpatient place, S visits and tries to be encouraging. W isn’t receptive, but she’s not rejecting either. When S leaves, maybe W says or does something S can look at in retrospect as a clear sign of what was about to happen—one more reason to blame herself, something astute readers may pick up on.

Dave: R stashes her there because there’s no bed available at the inpatient facility. And what W doesn’t know, but R (and possibly the reader) does, is the inpatient place is pretty decent, almost as nice as the halfway house.

Scampy: But the uncertainty and unknown are terrifying, and that fear pushes her over the edge. I’m wondering what she’d say to S. Something innocuous like:

“I’ll miss you,” Sunset said.
Wallflower gave her a tired smile. “You’ll be okay.”

Dave: That works on several levels. Visiting would be more restricted at an inpatient facility; that’s part of the point. So S’s telling the truth, if exaggerated. And W responds by deflecting back to S rather than answering directly.

Scampy: That’s exactly what she does. [F]or the first two weeks, no visitors aside from immediate family. Even then it was 45 minutes once a week, and not the first week. So it’ll be a long time. Part of S’s statement is to reassure W that she cares about her, that she’s not going to just blow her off and let the system take care of the problem, but W just brushes it off and turns it around.

Dave: Not realizing the subtext W reads into it.

Scampy: Or the subtext W returns with—not until later, when she’s in that hospital room, or outside it, waiting to hear if her friend is even alive, kicking herself for not picking up on it.

Dave: Yep. Because S is smart. And she relies on being smart, so when she stumbles intellectually, it hurts twice as much.

Scampy: She should have known. She’s smart, but she feels like an idiot. If she was half as smart as she likes to think she is, she would’ve picked up on it. But no, she assumed it would be fine. She figured R and this inpatient place would take care of W, and she wouldn’t have to do anything other than be supportive, but she couldn’t even do that when it mattered.

Act III summary

The third act would be a bit more extended than Amphorae’s final chapter, but generally the same tone, showing W getting better, mentally and physically. Able to stand, even if she can’t walk yet, and ending with that scene where she stands from her chair, all on her own. She holds S close and tells her she’ll see her soon, as the final proof that she’s not okay yet, but she’s on the right path and she’s willing to keep going.

General notes

Scampy: I think we’ve got a pretty good skeleton for the story, all the way through. The last act could use some filling out and something to build to besides just S leaving.

Dave: W would be relieved she is, at least, out from under the parental thumb.

Scampy: Definitely. Maybe she has a moment of genuine openness, maybe when S comes to visit. Even strict inpatient places allow visitors; with R running the show, and knowing that S is W’s only human connection she has left, S would definitely be allowed to visit.

Dave: Probably during recovery, both mental and physical, when W actually is turning the corner. The reader needs that emotional pay-off, the knowledge it’s working.

Scampy: Oh, for sure. This needs to have an uplifting ending that feels earned, just like Amphorae. The structural difference is having the low point be earlier on, and even lower, so its a higher mountain to climb, making the payoff all the more rewarding.

Recovery

Scampy: Something worth talking about is permanent injury for W—if not permanent, then at least lasting. No one falls four stories onto concrete and walks away unscathed. She won’t just open her eyes and pop out of bed and be fine. There has to be consequence. Maybe she’s in a wheelchair for a couple months or something, like serious lower spinal injuries. That will take a lot of time and PT to recover.

Dave: And the two forms of recovery mirror each other.

Scampy: Exactly, and one feeds into the other, too, because this time it’s genuine. That said, its worth pointing out that even when she wakes up, those bad thoughts don’t immediately go away—speaking from experience there. I think the major turning point for W isn’t waking up, but rather S telling her that she knows, now, what she said, and she needs W to know that she was wrong.

Dave: I don’t want her to be unable to grub in her beloved gardens.

Scampy: Of course. I think years of PT and steadily building selfworth bring her back to her gardens. That’s a huge part of her motivation to get better. She wants to cultivate again. She wants to be able to make something beautiful again. If to do that she has to do PT, or regular therapy, or hold hands on the sidewalk, or let S or R push her around in a chair, then goddamn it, that’s what she’s going to do, and she doesn’t need her dad to do it.

Dave: W feels some guilt as well, realizing how much she’s put everyone through even as she thought she was doing the opposite—but it would be like the stretchy pain of healing injuries rather than the black agony she used to feel about these things.

Scampy: Definintely. Depression doesn’t always turn around with a single epiphany moment, but I think in this case, it could begin a slow, wide U-turn with one.

Dave: A sign even to herself she’s starting to think outside herself. “That I can feel guilt about this matters.

Scampy: Yes. She always thought she was a selfish brat—her dad said it so much it had to be true—but now, rather than wallow in that, she’s working to change it. I think a big payoff moment could be something like W being able to stand on her own again, after her injuries. Possibly earlier than expected, like within the first two months rather than the six to twelve the doctors told her.
   And maybe S comes to her PT sessions, so she has a comforting presence there, and we have a POV for it. Her physical recovery could be a huge tool in aiding her mental recovery— so many little triumphs. She still hates herself, she still hates what she’s done to the people who care about her. She can’t fix those big, monumental issues all at once, but wiggle your ankle? Maybe she can do that. Raise your knee on your own? Maybe she can do that. Et cetera.

Dave: R and S would make sure the PT people, and everyone else, knew how important gardening is to W.

Scampy: Yes, and she’d be doing PT in the inpatient place, cuz after a suicide attempt that’s where she needs to go.

Dave: My understanding is PT, where possible, is structured to include favored activities, either as process or as goal.

Scampy: Yup, it is. At first she’d be just as scared as before, even embarrassed, that she has to be carted around in a wheelchair. I mentioned the other night that perhaps my fav SunFlower dynamic is S as the super-protective big-sistering friend. Maybe with R’s help, S volunteers to help W around the campus (of the inpatient place), which opens up a lot of scene opportunities and is also indisputable proof that S really does care.

One of W’s biggest fears, and one that wouldn’t go away even after her attempt, is that S is just pretending to be her friend, or doing so out of obligation—that she’s just putting up with her. But now? S is with her all the time, for weeks, even months, making sure she’s safe and comfortable, and supporting her however she can even when it’s such a busy time in her own life. She can’t be pretending.

Ending

Dave: By the end of the summer-break period W has to be recovered enough to deal with S and R leaving through the portal at the start of Virga.

Scampy: Could have a mirrored moment, where again S says, “I’ll miss you,” and W—barely able to stand on her own— struggles to rise from her wheelchair. Then she pulls S into a hug and tells her she’ll be waiting, so please come back soon. That’s all the proof S needs to know that this time W will be okay. Maybe it takes place before S goes to visit Princess Twilight, not knowing she’s about to get swept into a huge ordeal.

Dave: Good point. S jumps through the portal in the first place because Pri-Twi is helping to plan the Friendship Festival, and keeps dashing off these little one-line updates in the journal. Then the updates . . . stop.

Dave: “I gotta go see what’s up. I mean, it could be nothing and we’ll all have a big laugh over it, but maybe something’s wrong and I might be gone a while to help out.” It would be an opportunity to show W’s growth, that she accepts it, and is genuinely concerned about someone else—someone she’s barely met but has come to think well of.

Scampy: And despite her hurry, S still makes the time to tell W she’s leaving for a while. S came to reassure W that things would be okay, and in the end it was W who reassures S that things will be okay.

Dave: Yes. Obviously she’s not fully recovered either physically or mentally, but as you describe, she’s working at it. Also, R would make sure there’s someone with the clearance to look in on her and to keep her informed.

Dave: The departure could mark the end of the story’s main body, possibly with an epilogue covering either a briefing and W’s healthy concern and hope they’ll get back okay, or maybe after they come back only a little the worse for wear and reuniting with her. In the mean time she’s made real progress, and they’re proud of her. On her part: they disappeared . . . but they came back. And they specifically came to see her again.

Report Dave Bryant · 72 views · Story: Three-act Play ·
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