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Construction News revised plot structure August 21, 2006

Posted by jeanne in Author's Note, Blog project, construction news, Creative Writing, original fiction, Plotting, synopsis.

i’m going to try for another plot structure. i really hated the thought of 27 chapters, so i’ve worked it out to be a lot shorter. they may be 100-page chapters, but at least they’ll only be 12 of them. something like that.

chapters 1 thru 3 are already written, so i’m not going to mess with that. except to admit that i’m going to have to rewrite it all. but not now, later.

the big problem in trying to lay everything out chronologically is that the construction timetable is on a vastly different timescale than the interactions of a few neighbors. so i’m going to have to cover a lot of ground in each chapter, but it won’t seem that way because i’m going to get right to the juice and skip over the boring parts. thanks william golding.

these first three chapters are already up in first draft.

chapter one, in which we have a mysterious burial, and a meeting of the neighbors, where guy shows his negotiational style.

chapter two, in which construction begins, velha curses the noise and breaks an axle, she gets captivated by a crop circle. site clearing. dinner with maggie.

chapter three, in which there’s another meeting, guy negotiates, maggie notices joe. they’re clearing and digging. the tree gets hit, the bulldozer breaks. thing one acts up. velha studies earth energies and grids.

my next chapter will be four. it’s going to remain much the same as the first three. after that i’m cramming a lot more into the weave.

chapter 4, in which the tree loses a limb, the arborist is called. they’re pouring the retention vault, there are problems with the batteries and gps. the dump closes. osha comes, they have to move the trailer, they have to move the vault, the portohjohn falls. there’s a working holiday nobody shows up for. they find animal remains and the mexicans get spooked. forman’s having stress at home and on site. thing one knows something, he’s got money and a secret. thing two talks about drugs, infinity. the kids have dinner at maggies and gordon boasts. maggie and the developer are in love but he’s really a dick. the nextors. velha and the old man salt the site wth human remains, she remembers a crop circle into wet cement, studies harmonics, geometry, vortexes. they have sex.

chapter 5, in which velha and the old man do some dowsing, digging and stamping in the dark. first she learns dowsing. hubris. things one and two fight. the nextors. the construction guys are building columns and the first parts of the underground floor. the bulldozer is found on its side. they call the archeologist. there’s a crane accident, they find a spring, it rains, the tree falls. the third curse. the guy in the bulldozer drowns. thing one is asked to narc, loses crack. the brick deal.

chapter 6, they start digging up the street out front for sewer replacement. the nextors. it rains for two days. maggie and the developer are in love. lightning hits the crane. forman starts sleeping in the construction trailer. star and gordon are violently robbed. the police come, and arrest them, and take them to jail. velha helps maggie clean up, they’ve only got hours until it’s confiscated. there are bloodstains on the wall. velha makes signs in the blood. they remove all star’s things. they see many things they wish they hadn’t. there’s another meeting which nobody comes to, velha overhears beancounter and guy in the final negotiation. thing one tries to sell redwood. pontificating on the kids. orange/banana.

chapter 7, that same night, during which thing 2 has taken himself off to rehab. baorney is a dick about star. maggie finds a lump. the nextors. the old couple find thing 1 dead. they assume they’ll be protecting thing 2 by disposing of the body in the vacant lot, like they’ve done with all the cat-killing dogs over the years. they find a good place and say a few words over him. the next morning, thing one gets covered in cement to the depth of eight feet. velha finds a cross burned into her garden with gasoline. they have sex.

i think that’s enough excitement for a moment, so that’ll be the end of part one. and we’ll take it easy at the beginning of this next movement. lest we become too breathless.

chapter 8, they’re still working in the street out front. star is out of jail and living at home with maggie, looking for work, desultorily studying for her ged. the developer has been distant, ostensibly because of star’s presense, but she suspects it’s the bandages from her lumpectomy. they want her to do chemo and radiation. right away. but her little voice is very loudly saying NO whenever she thinks about it. she doesn’t trust doctors, anyway. the arborist is very angry about the tree. the arborist is replaced. guy gets his money and removes his trees, readying his yard for the fill dirt to come. structural weakness appears over thing 1. velha is getting very intent in her study of esoteric energies. she breaks off sex with an epiphany about patterns. she can read the site like a horoscope chart or a tarot deck. she investigates climate change and the sun’s weather. she feverishly maps out atlanta and its watersheds and zeros in on her neighborhood. the place begins to look like a beautiful mind. not just hubris anymore.

chapter 9, thing one is discovered. there is delay while he’s worked around. forman hears nasty things from the developer about maggie. maggie comes to velha for herbal cancer cures. forman spends time with the old couple, maggie. his wife sends papers. guy’s renovation gets inspected. there’s a new arborist. out back they’re digging the alley and diverting the spring. tests results show toxic waste. they’re pouring the first two floors, mostly parking deck. dropped hammer injures worker. the men are getting stations from the ’80s on their radios and old conversations on their cellphones. there’s an immigration sweep, and then there’s a hurricane, and this hides the fact that there’s seepage under the alley from another spring that just sprung up. there’s erosion of the walls. they’re putting up the bones of the 3rd and 4th floors now. the developer finally pays some attention to maggie, blames his unerection on the kid, and leaves a few items strewn about. velha makes detailed survey of the energy on the site. altman comes up with an interesting invention. velha builds a scale model of her block and reads history. the vortex has been there all along. a worker is crushed.

chapter 10, the cops swoop down on maggie and star in the night and charge them with manufacturing and distributing, and take them to jail and confiscate the property. maggie calls velha from jail, she calls baorney for bail. maggie finds another lump. velha has a dark night of the soul and realizes she has wished all the trouble on her neighborhood herself. she turns on the tv to find they’re working on the 5th and 6th floors now. watches run backwards, and someone’s fallen off the 4th floor. there’s also a problem with undermining. baorney is questioned by the cops and leaves town.

and we might as well pause there and take a breath, and call this part three.

chapter 11, maggie gets out of jail and has her breast removed two days later. after that, she’s on opiates, and sleeps 22 hours of the day. recuperation, a couple of months. the developer dumps her over the phone. she feels like a freak when she goes out. her case is out of narcotics and goes to the da. her house is being readied for auction, she’s staying in the old couple’s spare room and star has the room off the back. altman and velha tend her. star tends her. forman tends her. they talk. forman and altman start to figure out the developer’s plan for the block. they plot revenge. guy is arrested and his house condemned. the kids’ house is up for auction. the city puts her house up for auction. thing two is back from rehab. they find cracks and settling on the construction site. designs appear in the cement. a crane operator is killed hitting the power lines the day before the cranes are due to be taken down. it makes the news. they’re working on the interior now, the shell being mostly finished.

chapter 12, guy’s house is bulldozed. maggie is getting stronger, she’s trying to stay off the drugs for her daughter’s sake. maggie discovers she loves forman. he’s put a bid on her house for them to live in. maggie hides her drug use in the attic, battles with self consciousness. thing two reveals something thing one told him about the kids’ house, and baorney denies that the drugs maggie was arrested with were his, and altman figures out about guy and suddenly 2 plus 2 equals 8. with a few deft strokes (insert miracle here) we have the perfect set up for developer. velha is at a loss, tries to repair vortex. altman works on strange inventions. gordon returns from the farm, stays with star. star is tempted. there’s an electrocution on the top floor. tv coverage continues. there are punch list delays. more glyphs appear on the concrete surfaces but security cameras don’t work. kudzu strikes. thing 2 starts drinking again, has a conversation with developer.

chapter 13, thing 2 is lured to nextor house. there’s a fire, thing two rescues the nextors, and is injured. the boys spring their revenge on the developer. the dog rescues altman, who is injured. maggie falls from the roof wearing a frilly skirt, and dies. gordon robs her and flees to join the militia up in north carolina. star goes into a deep depression. baorney finds somewhere else to hang out. the developer is charged with all sorts of very bad things, fires and planned fires and conspiracies and even the death of thing 2. all charges are dropped against star, they give the house back, and she gets on with her life. crop circles appear on the roof. there’re problems with certain parking spots. there are no right angles anywhere in the building. a designer dies falling from a ladder. featured on unsolved mysteries. forman moves into the neighborhood, buys kids’ house. thing 2 explains nextor behavior. velha is older and wiser. and tired. thing one leaves a lingering smell.
the end.

so, let me know how you think it works this way.



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