It’s been quite a week. However, I’ve gotten a lot done. I actually just submitted my first two academic articles for publication in journals. We’ll see what comes of that, but my first guess at the moment is significant rejection. What can I say… I look on the bright side. That being said, I do think that both articles are quite good (if I didn’t I wouldn’t have submitted them), so hopefully they will be accepted with minor adjustments. Anyway, I have a plot challenge for you, and it’s something a little bit different. In this challenge I want you to work on plotting out a particular chapter or set of scenes. I’ve given you some exercises concerning metanarrative, but now I want you to focus in on the micronarratives of the story. So, I’m going to give you a couple of characters, a setting, and a grand plot, and I want you to plot out one chapter of a metanarrative involving them. I’ve been giving you a significant amount of information in previous iterations of this exercise, and I honestly feel like it might be too much. So, I’m going to cut back a little more and hopefully give you a little more space to work with your own creativity.
Metanarrative: It is now 2045. America has fallen. Unsurprisingly it was a terrorist attack that started it. A small nuclear device (about a 2-3 megaton yield) was detonated in New York City on New Years Eve of 2043, and this led to a world wide economic crisis. No one ever took responsibility for the nuclear attack, and it remains a mystery who was ultimately behind it. However, the death toll in New York was catastrophic, as was the damage to major infrastructure systems. Three months later another attack, from an apparently unrelated group, devastated the Hampton Roads area, and simultaneously a cyber-attack leaked data from millions of American consumers and several major investment groups along with several government agencies. The government secrets spilled infuriated Americans. Thus, as the rest of the world recovered from the economic crisis, America sunk deeper in. Because of this internal tensions between politically liberal and conservative groups rose, as did racial and religious tensions, and trust in the Federal Government waned. By November of 2044 the Federal Government had ceased functioning as an effective entity and fighting had broken out between militia groups and the US military in the American northwest and southeast, and soon small groups of soldiers were betraying their oaths to join the uprisings. Before long soldiers were abandoning their regiments in country to return to their homes. Air travel was stopped, as was travel by train, and police forces in many areas were assimilated into growing state and county militias that were bolstered by returning soldiers. Slowly sides have formed. The American Northeast has banded together in an as yet unnamed alliance. The midwest has formed the largest single alliance in the former US, calling itself the Iriquois Nation, despite having no discernable connection to the Native American Tribe. The Southeast has formed a very loose confederation of states, but they rarely act as a single, unified body. Meanwhile the Texas has conquered and consumed its bordering states and is claiming nationhood in its own right. The Northwest has split into several factions that are only loosely connected to one another and are often at odds. Intermittent war continues as the world looks on.
Your Story: I want you to write a story set in the midst of all of this. You may choose a main character from those listed below. Your specific story is yours to format, but it should be one part of a larger mission set in the above context.
The Setting: Your setting is your home city/state, or whichever American city/state you are most familiar with. Set in the above context you will have to develop the specifics of that area as necessary for your story.
Characters: I’m going to give you several characters. You don’t need to use all of them in your chapter. In fact, you only could use all of them if you were bouncing back and forth between several points of view. So, if you want to plot out the chapter entirely from Wilem’s point of view, that’s fine, just ignore the characters that don’t fit.
Amram: a large retired Marine, Amram was named after the biblical character. He’s never been a particularly nice person, but he’s tough and he’s a survivor.
Sonya: once upon a time Sonya was a CEO. Her company was relatively small and she was never going to make the Fortune 500, but she employed over a thousand people. Those days are over now, but Sonya still has a sharp business mind and a leader’s instinct.
Lincoln: a professor of history at the local university, Lincoln is one of the smartest people around. The university doesn’t have a lot of students left, but he’s led a push to develop a militant side to their training as well as the academic.
Samantha: when she was young Samantha was a farmer. However, as she will tell you, she hasn’t been young for a very long time. No one really knows how old Samantha is, but common guesses range between 75 and 110.
Kevin: Kevin is a mechanic. Even when the world falls apart, a good mechanic is worth his weight in gold. He sees a lot more patch-it work these days, and he can’t remember the last time he worked on a new car, but people will barter a lot to keep what they have working.
Angie: Kevin’s wife. Angie used to be a elementary school teacher. Many people still ask her to tutor their children. With most of the schools shut down an education is more valuable than every.
Ann: a professor of mathematics at the local university. She and Lincoln have had an on again, off again relationship since before the country fell apart. With everything that’s happened recently, they’ve grown closer than ever.
Paul: Samantha’s adopted son. Paul probably knows how old she is, but he won’t tell anyone. Of course, he’s equally secretive about his own age, and what he does for a living, and pretty much everything else. Still, he’s an amiable guy as long as you don’t want to ask questions.
Your job today is to use what I’ve given you here and your imagination to plot out the chapter step by step. Figure out the major events that need to happen, in what order, and how to make them interesting and fun.