This will tie in to my last post on Knowing Where to Start. Trust me.
The male protagonist for DREAMER’S ROSE is based on the Greek myth of Hercules–the real one, not what Disney did to it–turned completely upside down. In case you don’t know, Hercules was driven mad by Hera. In his madness, he killed his wife and children. The famous Twelve Labors were his punishment for this crime (they didn’t have Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity back then). In the end, still consumed by guilt, Hercules built his own funeral pyre and burned himself to death. But, as the son of Zeus, all the fire did was burn away his mortal half and leave him a god.
This made me wonder, what exactly would you pray to Hercules the god for? People did, in ancient Greece; he had temples and people made offerings. What were they asking for? His entire life was a disaster. The only thing he was ever good at was killing monsters, so unless you had a Hydra hiding in the back yard, what did you want Hercules to do for you?
I took this story and completely turned it upside down. My protagonist leads a charmed life with the patronage of the Goddess (who happens to be his mother). He succeeds in everything he does. He’s practically invulnerable because the Goddess heals every injury. That is, until he gets struck by lightning, burns, and becomes a god. That’s when the Peter Principle kicks in–he’s risen to the level of his incompetence. He has absolutely no idea how to go about this god business and he fails horribly. It is his last and greatest failure that causes the conflict in the story and which he ultimately has to rectify, with a little help (from Rose).
Now, I promised that this would tie in to the last post. Here it is. I had the hardest time getting this story started. It’s really hard to write something interesting about a guy that can’t fail and can’t be hurt. Where’s the conflict? In the end, I couldn’t do it. I gave up and started with another character, which morphed the story into something that wasn’t really what I had envisioned. So, I put it in a drawer (figuratively) for a few months. Recently, I opened it back up and reread it. I started making notes for the revisions I wanted to make. And now I know where the story really starts. I just needed a little distance from it to see it. It starts at his height, right before he becomes a god and everything goes to pieces.
That’s probably obvious to you. But when you’re in the trenches struggling with a story, sometimes you’re too close to see it. A little distance is good.