) The Act of Story Statement:
Torrie Trace struggles to understand and fill the hole at his center, and ultimately resists the controllers who have stolen his youth, threaten his present, and seek to predict his future.
2) The Antagonist Plots the Point:
Torrie’s antagonist is the smoke-filled inner sanctum of The Kremlin, where embattled and divided KGB force elements careen between destiny decisions that will define and decide who he is, what he knows, and whether he lives. Between the Russian generals - and the Central Committee policies they seek to represent – and the darker worlds within the mafia that foment supporting nefarious actions, the goal of the protagonist is to use Torrie as a secret weapon to implode the United States democracy, by degree and decree. From Vlad the Inhaler to Ivan the Shareable, Ulsa Vandrovich to Gennady Kornienko, and even Vladimir Putin himself, there are billions invested in a tired beta experiment that will either see the rise of Russia to lone superpower, or the destruction of deeply clutched political careers.
3) Conjuring the Breakout Title:
Without a Trace
The Rise of New Utrecht
4) Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comps:
a) The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum – A secret asset loses his memory on a covert operation and becomes a reckless free agent
b) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, John LeCarre – A disenfranchised star asset retires to a life he has trouble reconciling only to return to a spy world he no longer knows or can trust
Each represent the story within the story being told concurrently, which I believe offers double the risk-reward for both the writer and the reader.
5) Core Wound and Primary Conflict: Two Levels
Torrie is known by millions of fans, but not himself. The conflict is at once the reason he struggles as a person as well as the reason he is successful as an actor.
6) Other Matters of Conflict:
When it comes to his stolen past Torrie must grieve. In his lost present he must fight for survival. As for the hastily planned future, the survival of a society is at risk. In the middle of it all is a romance with Brooklyn Delaney and the separations they must endure.
Brooklyn’s own fractured past causes her to settle for too little when it comes to Torrie Trace, but as she discovers that Torrie is and can be more than she possibly imagined, she realizes that she actually desires and deserves that, too.
There are deep, dramatic and volatile conflicts with the antagonist, as well – which is of course represented by the smoke-filled room in the Kremlin. In these rooms a wild battle for supremacy of vision and legacy ensues between once and future regime leaders. The stakes are more than that, in fact, they too are life and death, not only for Torrie Trace and potentially millions of Americans, but also for the losers of the arguments within Mother Russia.
Both Torrie and Brooklyn have attachment and Daddy issues, which also both get resolved by the end of the book.
The New Utrecht team meanwhile, starts as a rag-tag collection of diffident and disillusioned gray-market opportunists that comes together as a band of brothers who fight for each other and for something much more.
7) The Incredible Importance of Setting:
The novel begins in the make-believe present of Hollywood within a fictional tale, and shifts to the past in a Southern California where a Marine Corps veteran, who would become the actor in the opening scene, returns from duty in the Middle East.
The story re-enters Hollywood make-believe before it crash lands in the real world again in a Los Angeles our protagonist must now flee. From there the anonymity of Mexico and a rescue mission in Moscow.
Side stories take the reader back to the 1980s: specifically, the streets of Belfast and deserts of Afghanistan. Ultimately action comes back from Russia to the United States, this time in New York and New Jersey.
The global scale of setting is absolutely critical to the scope and staging of the expansive story, while at the same time offering the reader a far-flung experience within the connective tissues of time and place.
In the first part of the book – which takes place in the United States – nothing is as it should be, whether in Hollywood or the real world, which threatens and menaces at every turn. In Belfast and Afghanistan, the world is decided in moments of luck, verve, and soldier-of-fortune pluck amidst utter chaos. In Russia where nothing is certain, all is supremely controlled. Back in America where things should be settled, nothing is; until the very end.