I'm still alive and have returned from an epic two-week road trip with my family. I have also replaced the starter in my other car, but I only mention that because I'm so proud I actually did it.
So, I'm starting work on a new novel. Except that it's not really new. I've gone back to the original concept for my second novel (called at various times Charism, The Qualia of Magic, The Sense, and In Memory) and am working on constructing a new story around the same characters and premise. This stirs up a lot of mixed feelings for me.
Mostly, what makes me think I can pull something better from my original idea?
I know what to ask. I know whose story it is. I got the other story I wanted to tell out of my system in a different novel, Drivers.
And now everyone has clear and compelling motivations. Let's see if I can sum them up:
Brian makes superheroes. Occasionally a supervillain. He removes the natural limits from the talents that people already have.
For example, Esha was born with a gift for empathy. With Brian's unique sort of help, she can now read and control other people's emotions. She can make you feel whatever she wants you to feel. This really helps in her summer job as a fundraiser for a local non-profit.
But Esha doesn't believe Brian has anything to do with her success. To prove it to her, he removes the limits from another fundraiser, Peter, who has a gift for speaking.
Then Brian meets Leah, a girl he knew in middle school but hasn't seen for years. He unknowingly removed the limits from her memory, and now she blames him for ruining her life. But Esha's new ability to manipulate emotions also allows her to undo what Brian did, reigning in Leah's memory to something more manageable.
In other words, she can unmake Brian's superheroes.
And that's a good thing, because Peter's abusing his new power. When his fundraising tactics turn dirty, he frames Esha and discredits the whole organization. Then he sets his sights on local government.
No one can win an argument against Peter—except Esha. And she's not about to let him get away with what he did to her.
Leah recognizes what's happening to Peter and Esha. They're losing control of their talents and their mental health. The best thing for everyone is for Esha to undo Peter's unlimiting and then try to undo her own.
The problem is that Peter's too dangerous for Esha to go near him. He knows she's the only thing standing between him and eventual world domination, and he'd just as soon see her dead.
Brian can only watch as Peter gets scarier and Esha changes into someone else.
The solution seems clear. Brian must accept responsibility and eliminate Peter—even if that means spending life in prison and eternity in hell.
The only other way is too risky. Leah would have to risk insanity and Esha would have to risk dying. What would Brian risk? Living with himself if it all went wrong, knowing he'd be more at fault than ever as Peter took over the world, Esha was buried, and Leah got locked away.
For Brian, that's far worse than death or prison, and probably worse than hell.
So that's the story. If you happen to know of a song that sort of fits with this plot, please tell me what it is! I'm having a hard time making a playlist.