The first ideas for An Internal Conflict were little more than the title, the idea of a “school story” and “coming of age story,” and an opening scene. But several years later, I thought of the “twist” that gives the story its real power.
First, since I now have a (very much tentative) logline for this story, I should begin my précis with that:
When a coddled princess realizes the recent apocalypse was her fault and is given a chance to relive and change her past, she must prepare herself, her friends, and her country for the danger she knows is coming.
The “twist” I thought of was to make this a “do-over” time-travel story.
Our protagonist, Persephone Royal, has “coasted” through her her life, including training as a mage at the Academy. In her time under an individual “master,” she visits the Waste, where she senses that she’s “supposed” to do something, but she ignores and then forcibly silences that inner voice. Not long afterwards, war breaks out.
And disaster strikes. The Dragon Empire’s army rolls over every force sent to oppose it, and occupies essentially the entire Shine and Wild Empire. Persephone becomes “the tenth leader of the Imperial Corps of Mages to bury her predecessor in a fortnight,” when she suddenly comes to the awful realization that all this stems from her missed opportunity in the Waste. She repents, and prays—not expecting any response, let alone to be granted it—for a chance to live her life again with some benefit of hindsight.
But, miraculously, she is granted it. She goes to sleep amid the smoking ruins of a battlefield, and wakes up in the sunshine of her childhood home not long before she is scheduled to begin at the Academy. (It’s deliberately left ambiguous whether this is true “time travel,” a dream or vision, or something else.) Knowing something of what is to come—though useful memory fades as time goes by—she must overcome her own tendency toward complacency and prepare herself for the task that she will have to accomplish. And, knowing what she does, she does her best to push her dearest friends to be ready for the storm she knows is coming.
My plan for the plot is to spend roughly the first half of the story on her time at the Academy, and half on her Task in the Waste. The Academy arc will most likely describe her early days there in some detail, then cover later periods more briefly. In the second half of the story, she and her brother must uncover and reverse a curse that has kept the Waste in its unproductive desert state, and deprived it even of its history, for many years.
Some of the principal characters are Persephone Royal (of course), two of her school friends, Penelope of Sanctum Ver and Sigismund Valerius, and Persephone’s brother Silas.
While I have little more to say about my plans for An Internal Conflict, I should mention that I have posted a few excerpts from my current draft of it on this blog in the past few years:
– “Characterization by place”
– Academy chapel
Do you have any thoughts about An Internal Conflict?