where the writers are

Was writing in my head this morning as I walked to The Beanery for my mocha fix when I realized I need to do a snapshot for TB.

I call them snapshots; Ellen Sussman said she calls it, 'clearing your throat'. Either way, it's an inspection of the setting and characters, a dive into their minds and motivations, a writing exercise to flesh out and understand what's happened and what's going to happen. Earlier when dealing with these moments, I treated it as part of the story. Came to grasp, no, no, mon ami, that's exposition for yourself. The reader doesn't need all these details, you do.

In this instance, it's a small detour and yet splashes across the manuscript. I approached life in the zone simplistically, recognizing several broad groups: people, like Ian, searching for family and delving into 'what is happening'; 'tourists' or 'sightseers' sneaking in for the experience; scientists and government officials for whatever reasons (including what is happening); militia who have taken upon it to patrol and defend the order; and low lifes. But among these actually emerge more complexities. For example, the people Ian meets with for supplies (nominally led by Negative Energy) have a schism in their ranks. While NE initially establishes a structure to help others by living in the zone and providing goods, supplies, services, information, his followers have come less and less to agree with him. As Ian and his friends arrive to give them a couple grand in exchange for a couple vehicles with supplies, the schism opens wide and insurrection erupts. To understand all the nuancs, I like writing a snapshot to figure out who the players are and what has happened in the past before I understand what's going to happen. And I was surprised to discover, this is where Ian's friend, Ray, is killed.