In the last segment, we learned how I decided to restructure the story from 3 parts to 5. I showed my ideas to my friend Nick, and he did not agree with me on several points.
In my version of the story, Molly helps to raise the Immune Child, but she treats him more like a possession than a human being with feelings ‘n’ stuff. Over time this changes, and she starts to unlock the part of herself that can actually feel again. In other words, she is REDEEMED. (I put caps there to stress that this was the first appearance of the theme of redemption.)
I showed it to Nick. He said, “I don’t think Molly and the kid should ever meet.”
I said, “But…she’s there when they deliver the kid against her wishes.”
“Okay,” he replied. “Let me rephrase. She shouldn’t be in his life anymore when he gets old enough to remember her.”
At this point I’m thinking: All right, maybe he just doesn’t see the big picture yet. Let him read on.
Next part of the story: as I mentioned in the last post, Molly and her team face an Unexpected Enemy. In the original version, the Unexpected Enemy comes along when Molly’s team runs a mission where they try to destroy the quarantine wall. I imagined a scenario where the wall was blown up, and the Unexpected Enemy died in the blast.
However, as I said before, this structure was cramming far too much stuff into Part 2. Therefore, I dragged out the Unexpected Enemy story arc, and it wound up lasting until Part 5. In fact, it took that long to get a clear look at this other foe. Regarding this change, Nick had no input either way.
Moving along. We get to the point where the Immune Child grows up and becomes a jerk. For reasons I would rather not disclose here (because that would be a MAJOR spoiler), he takes off on the group. They have to pause everything they are doing so they can hunt him down again. The search takes a while.
Now here is where I was stumped. If the Immune Child refused to be a part of the group, then how would they convince him to come back into the fold?
I ran it by Nick. His solution?
They don’t convince him of a damn thing. Instead, they KILL him. Then they take the blood out of his body and resume searching for a lab where they can test it.
I said, “Wait a minute. Killing him makes no sense. If he is alive, then he can keep reproducing the blood that could save humanity. If he’s dead, then the only supply they have is the blood in his body when he dies. And how would they preserve it? Eventually it would degrade.”
I waited, but Nick was at work and couldn’t reply. However, I did have one more thing to add: “Also, the idea of the Immune Child coming back into the fold to help the mission is another example of the theme of REDEMPTION. He goes off like a selfish brat, but then he comes back for the greater good. Do you see what I’m getting at?”
Eventually Nick wrote back. All he said was, “Yeah I get it. I just want to make sure the story is right.”
I didn’t understand what he meant. Make sure the story is right? Well, since we are the ones creating it, aren’t WE the ones who determine that?
By this point, I had also reached out and was talking to an artist friend of mine named Clarence. He had drawn some basic sketches of a couple characters, and I was excited to have him on board. I talked to him about what Nick said. Clarence had the same judgment of it that I did: Nick shot my ideas down, but offered no alternatives up to replace them. When *I* came up with a new idea, he would shoot THAT down…and again, make no suggestions for replacement.
Finally, I had to make a call. It was tough, but I had to decide to continue on without him. The bulk of it had been my idea anyway, so I didn’t think (and still don’t) that I could get in any kind of plagiaristic trouble. As for acknowledging the ideas he gave, I can do that for sure. Without Nick, I don’t know that I would have thought of the quarantine wall, nor would there have been the concept of the Immune Child growing up to be a prick. So he deserves credit for that.
With Nick out of the fold, I realized two exciting things: not only could I write the story however it made sense to me, but I could RENAME it!!!!
So, INFECTDEAD went out the window. But what to replace it with? At first I had no idea. Since “redemption” was a major theme in the story, I considered calling it REDEMPTION. However, at the time there was a video game out called RED DEAD REDEMPTION. The timing seemed too close to me, and I did not want to be harassed with the question, “So is this an extension of that open-world Western video game???”
More thinking. I wanted REDEMPTION in the title. Then I thought: how about REDEMPTION AMONG THE DEAD? It could be abbreviated RAD!!! How cool would that be?
Actually, not very cool. Now instead of having just one word in common with that video game, the title had TWO words in common! Back to the drawing board.
I thought back on the 5-act structure and how that came from Shakespeare, so for a while I jokingly called it SHAKESPEARE WITH ZOMBIES. However, that was just a place holder until I found a real title. With no clear answer in mind, I decided to abandon the title search and just did what was most important: I got back to writing the story.
However, after Part 2, that didn’t prove to be so easy either. Stay tuned for Part 6!