Excerpts From Multi-Throughline Scene
In Weaving Multiple Throughlines Into The Same Scene, I discuss an example scene that was planned from the Relationship Story and Influence Character perspective, but on writing ended up as a big scene for all four throughlines.
Hopefully, these excerpts will help give a picture of the scene and how some of the story points are working in it. Keep in mind this is rough first draft material only!
"You mean infected with the Unworlded Virus? I'm not sure, but we can have Uncle Simon test it."
"Becca," warned Max, his voice low. "Careful. Harrison isn't—"
"Fuck, Max, don't worry about it," said Becca, scowling. "I've already told him about the Unworlded, what the Club really is, everything."
Max's intake of breath was sharp, audible. "You shouldn't have done that. He hasn't been initiated."
"He's my recruit, Max. My wild card. He's seen so much already, he might as well be one of us. It's my choice how to handle him."
Max looked unconvinced, but held his hands up. "Okay, okay, fine. We've got bigger fish to fry. Or bugs." He stared meaningfully at the spider-thing, the Cephalosk. "This is a big deal, Becca."
Above you can see Becca’s breaking the rules (IC Symptom/Response: Control/Uncontrolled), and conflict around their duty as Firelions to keep everything secret (OS Issue: Obligation).
"So now you believe me about the Unworlded involvement?"
"Hey, I never said I didn't believe you," said Max. "From what I gathered, that was Davies, and your uncle."
"Yeah, even my uncle," pouted Becca. She was trying to keep things light, but trying too hard. Something was troubling her, Devin was sure of it. She was holding the muscles of her body in tight control as she faced Max beside the gurney, a cobra ready to strike. Except her eyes; unlike a cobra's, they were uncertain, afraid. "Max, there's more to this than you can imagine. I need your help to deal with it carefully."
He looked up from the dead Cephalosk, regarded Becca appraisingly. "Whatever you need."
Becca exhaled slowly, as if in relief; but to Devin she still seemed tense. "First, I need to know if you talked to anyone else at the Club about what Devin told you."
Again we see Becca’s focus on Control, and the OS Problem of Help when Max agrees to help her (problematic because in a minute she’ll betray him).
"Shit, my battery died," Becca interjected, suddenly standing at Devin's shoulder. "Max, can you call Uncle Simon back on your phone?"
"Yeah, hold on." Max put the syringe down on the case and retrieved his phone from a pocket and typed his passcode to unlock it. "I think I have his number on here..."
Becca moved with unbelievable speed. Even warned by her inexplicable tension, it was nearly over before Devin knew it was happening. Becca grabbed the syringe with her right hand while her left shot out and stole Max's phone from his hand. Surprised, Max took a quick, defensive step backward, but it wasn't enough distance to avoid Becca's wild lunge. In one motion she slipped past his unbuttoned coat and jabbed him in the ribs with the syringe, pushing home the plunger with her palm.
"What the fuck, Becca!" shouted Max. He grabbed her wrist, locked onto it with a firm grip, then hesitated as if unsure what to do, afraid to fight her. "Why did you..."
Becca manipulates Max into helpfully unlocking his phone (OS Domain Psychology, OS Problem Help) so that she can erase the record of Devin’s call. Max focuses on why she attacked (OS Symptom Logic).
"He's unconscious," said Becca, her voice carefully controlled. "The blue pill does that at first. He'll wake up soon, but he'll be really groggy, only semi-conscious. That's when I'll, uh... move him."
She sounded distracted. Devin let Max's big, limp form slide the last few inches to the linoleum, turned and saw that Becca was doing something on Max's phone. "Becca, what—?"
"I'm erasing the record of your call to Max."
“No…” Devin took a deep breath, rising to face her. His heart hammered in his throat. "Okay, I'm not freaking out because you told me not to freak out—but what the hell was that?"
Becca put the phone down on the gurney behind her, evidently finished with her tampering. Then without warning she struck him full in the face with the back of her hand. It hurt, stung his cheek, and sent his head reeling to the side, the dull echo of his headache returning with the force of a charging bull. He gasped.
"What was that? What was that? I'm fixing your fucking screw-ups, you useless piece of shit!" Becca shook with fury, the tension in her muscles finally loosed. She shoved Devin in the chest, forcing him to take a step back to keep his balance, then jabbed a finger at his face, making him flinch. "Do you even understand what you've done tonight?"
"What?" Devin felt stunned by the force of her rage, a bird flung about in a seething storm. He backed up, felt his heel bump into Max's prone form. "I didn't do anything..."
"I told you to fucking go home—that I didn't want you at meeting with Cole! And then you and your idiot friend showed up anyway, drove around like morons, and spooked him!"
"He had something fucking important to tell me, Harrison! Now he's gone—and as if that weren't enough, you had to fucking call Max and tell him fucking everything. Cole, the Cephalosks..." Her eyes shone with tears. "You have no idea how important it is that all that remains secret now."
"Becca, I... I was only trying to help, to protect you." Despite the hurt of her attack, he felt the inexplicable, almost overpowering desire to console her. "And I wasn't wrong... It really wasn't safe to meet Cole alone. I mean, look what happened when Bertram showed up."
"Ha!" She nodded, then shook her head harshly. "You mean when you let that bitch Mandy get the drop on you? You, Harrison. You're the reason I was fucking forced to go with Bertram. I thought they were going to kill me, and it was ALL YOUR FAULT." Becca was so enraged that actual spittle flew from her mouth. Her right hand was clenched, her arm cocked back as if she were barely restraining herself from striking him again.
The sad part was, she had a point. Devin had let Mandy sneak up on him. Becca had allowed herself to be taken prisoner to protect him.
Sorry, that’s a long excerpt. There’s a lot of the IC Response of Uncontrolled in it, along with the OS Symptom/Response of Logic/Feeling. (Some of the Logic/Feeling is probably RS too.) Despite all the emotion, Becca makes a logical argument as to why Devin screwed up, and Devin comes to see that logic (as a bad thing, a problem). Of course, this is all under the shadow of the problematic Help that Devin tried to provide earlier.
"I can't leave you alone with Max. You—"
"I'll handle it. Just go!"
"Fine, fine," he said, spreading his hands. "You're obviously not thinking clearly right now, Becca. I'll call you tomorrow."
She shook her head, her lips pressed in a tight line. "No, Harrison. Don't you get it? I don't want you to call me. I've got more important things to worry about than some loser following me around like a fucking lost puppy. I don't want to see you again."
Devin opened his mouth, but no words came out. He tried again. "You don't mean that," he choked. "What about the Club?"
"You think I want you as a recruit now? Forget it. You're a lightweight, Harrison. You'd never make it in the Club."
"But— I was your choice, you said. Your wild card."
She laughed, the sound echoing harshly in the lonely hall. "I only said that to get you out of trouble. Davies was going to blue-pill you for seeing my pen. In hindsight, I should have let him."
"Becca..." Devin felt like he was slogging through thick mud, trying to get to a high spot where he could see past her sudden cruelty. He drew in a shallow breath. "I don't understand. Didn't you promise Davies—don't you have to recruit me now?"
"No, I'll find ways to delay them, offer some excuse. By the time they realize you're out of the picture there won't be anything they can do. The blue pill can't go back more than a day or so, and even that's pushing it." She glanced away, her gaze finding Max’s case with its two remaining syringes. Then she looked back at Devin, her eyes hard, cold. "The truth is I should fucking blue-pill you right now, make you forget everything I told you about the Club. That'd be easier on you. But I've had enough goddamn violence for one night."
He swallowed grimly. "Becca, you can't mean..." But she did. She meant it.
Sometimes, despite all the miles and sweat and heart-pumped blood of your training, your race just goes wrong. You try for as long as you can to fight through, to salvage something, but eventually you see that it's a lost cause. You're not going to get first, or second or fifth or a personal record, or whatever you were gunning for. So you give up. Except that you can't stop running. You still have to finish the race, the muscles of your legs and lungs and heart in terrible pain, and no one cares because you're in the middle of the pack, or maybe the very back. Maybe the cold rain is drizzling down and soaking you from head to toe, and it doesn't care either. So you plod on, hurting, knowing that it's pointless—that the hurt isn't worth a damn thing.
That's what it felt like to Devin. The same hurt, the same pain. He turned and left Becca in the empty corridor with Max lying unconscious on the floor. He found Eric and told him he was right: about Becca, about the Club, about everything. And that, concussion or not, he just wanted to go home.
Sorry, another long one. This is the end of the scene. Here we really see the RS impact, how Becca rejects Devin and basically torches their budding relationship. For the relationship it’s really their considerations that are the true cause of difficulties. How can she be so inconsiderate of their relationship? How can they let her? Doesn't this relationship mean anything to them, do they even consider it worth saving?
The last couple paragraphs show the MC Issue (Hopes crushed), and once he finally sees the logic of why she's rejecting him, he feels tremendous emotional pain which he lets guide his actions (MC Symptom/Response of Logic/Feeling).
All text including excerpts copyright (c) 2018 by Mike Lucas. All rights reserved.