At long last…

For my fellow GH fans and friends,

Here is the latest installment. It’s not action packed this time, but I hope you’ll find a few quality Robert and Anna moments, some of the relationship building stuff that we’ve been missing. Enjoy!

Previous chapters are available in the archives or at https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

Endgame Chapter 8  – WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

After wasting several rounds and most of their energy, Robert and Anna sat down, defeated. It was no use. No one was going to hear them scream. No one was going to release them even if they did.

“What the hell do we do now?” said Anna, her irritation readily apparent.

“I don’t know. Yet.” Robert made his way around the chamber opening and closing all of the cabinets.

“Well, we obviously can’t shoot our way out. How many bullets do you have left?”

“Four.” He eyed the supply of chemicals he’d found. “Can we blast our way out?”

“What?”

“I know you can diffuse a bomb, but how are you at building one?” he said.

She sank into the rolling chair near the work station and bent over to check the undersurface for bugs. “If I made a bomb strong enough to blow that door, the blast would kill us both.”

“So much for that.”

“Any other bright ideas?”

“Not at the moment.”

“You wasted half your ammunition firing at a steel door. What did you think—that you had some magic bullets? Good job we weren’t killed by the ricochet.”

“Anna, don’t do that,” he said as took off his sport coat and tossed it on top of a stack of boxes. He shoved a crate into the corner and stepped up on it to examine the mounted camera.

“Don’t do what?”

“The same thing you always do,” he said.

“And what is that, Robert?” she said, moving on to the drawers on either side of the desk.

“You take out your frustrations on the closest target. It’s not gonna do either of us any good to be down each other’s throats.”

“Eeerrrgghh! I know! I know you’re right! I’m just…” She pulled a small bound notebook out from under a pile of file folders and opened it to the first page. “Robert!” she said in a voice that sounded like a mixture of joy and panic.

He was at her side in an instant. “Did you find something?”

“Just this.” She held up the book. “Robin’s journal. She was here, Robert. All of this… this is her research. They kept her here all of this time against her will,” she said, her voice trembling. The thought sickened her, but proof that Robin was alive was almost enough to compensate for it.

He took the journal out of her hand and sat down on the cot on the far side of the room. “She was looking for a cure Polonium Poisoning?” he said, flipping through the pages.

“Apparently.”

“Under the command of Jerry Jacks and his band of merry men. Dammit!” He shook his head.

“Robert, what are we going to do? We can’t just sit here. Our daughter is out there somewhere.”

“We don’t seem to have a lot of options right now, do we? We’re gonna have to wait until someone opens that door and then… then we can make a move.”

“How long do you think until someone comes back?”

“I don’t know.”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“They will.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because… Look, you said you saw Faison and Obrecht on the boat, right?”

“Yes.”

“So Faison knows you’re here.”

“Yes.”

“And what’s the one thing in this world that he wants more than anything else?”

“Me,” she said.

“Exactly.”

“So you think he’ll come back to claim me?”

“Or someone will. At the very least, they’ll bring you food and water. Keep you alive.”

She chose to ignore the fact that he didn’t include himself in that statement. “And then what?” she said. “We have four bullets. They have automatic weapons. The odds aren’t exactly working in our favor.”

He read the exasperation in her face. He reached out and pulled her rolling chair closer to him. He looked deep into her eyes. “Listen, this is us. You and me. We just need to put our heads together. We’ll come up with something.”

She leaned in and allowed her forehead to touch his. She smiled, thinking their heads were quite literally together.

He gave a slight chuckle, knowing that was exactly what she was thinking.

“Okay?” he said.

“Okay,” she answered. “I guess we have time, don’t we?” she said with a slight smile.

“So it would seem,” he said.

They began to run escape scenarios by one another, shooting down one plan after another for one reason or another. Robert could feel Anna’s frustration growing again. Truth be told, he was no less irked than she was, but one of them had to keep a cool head.

After about an hour of fruitless discussion, Anna decided to change the subject. “Robert?”

“What, love.”

“Luke ran off after Jerry because he was looking for a cure for Polonium Poisoning. Jerry held Robin hostage so she could develop the cure. I can make sense of that. But how do you think Faison and Obrecht fit in to this whole thing?”

“Obrecht ran the clinic where Robin was held to start with.”

“Yes, but is there more? How is she connected to Faison? What is his part in all of it?”

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out, one way or another. And when I do…”

There was no need to finish that statement. She knew exactly what he was thinking. She was thinking it too.

“There’s something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about,” she continued.

“What’s that?”

“You said that you figured out that I was here because of a message from Britt Westborne.”

“Right. When she said that her mother might have brought her baby here, I figured it was—”

“How did you know that Obrecht was her mother?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, how did you know that Obrecht was Britt’s mother? I only found out a few weeks ago, but you were…”

“In a coma. Yeah. Don’t remind me.”

“So? Did I tell you that at the clinic?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“What do you know?” She stood and started to pace about.

“What?”

“Or more precisely, what else do you know?”

“Anna, you’re not making any sense here.”

“Robert, I don’t think I told you about their relationship, so if I didn’t tell you, you must have got the information somehow. The question is what other information do you have, how did you get it, and how do we retrieve it?”

“Three,” he said matter-of-factly.

“What?”

“That’s three questions,” he smirked.

“Oh, shut up,” she said. She rolled her eyes, but he saw the playful grin that snuck across her face.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, intrigued. He watched her pace a while longer, obviously deep in though. He was in awe of her mind at work. He always had been. And there was nothing sexier than the gleam that she got in her eye when she was in throws of concocting a plan or solving a mystery.

“What if…” she said, still moving from one side of the room to the other. Her fingers formed a steeple in front of her lips just under her nose. “That’s it!” She crossed the room and sat down in front of him again. Turned sideways in the chair she crossed her legs.

He did his best to ignore them.

“Robert,” she started in again, leaning in toward him, “you said you saw Obrecht and Robin at the clinic before you lost consciousness.”

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat and sat up straighter.

“What if you heard them talking and somehow retained the information?”

“Subconsciously?”

“Yes. What if you heard something about what they were planning that you just don’t remember?”

“So, what do you want to do now, hypnotize me?”

“It’s not a bad idea.”

“It’s a terrible idea! Since when do you possess the skills to—”

“I’ve learned a lot of things since the last time we were together.”

“I’ll just bet you have!”

She caught the wicked twinkle in his eye. “Ah, watch it, Robert.”

“Anna, this is…”

“Come on. It can’t hurt to try, can it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because…”

“Robert!”

“Anna, it doesn’t make any difference why I know what I know, all right?”

“But if you heard Obrecht say something, anything—”

“I was unconscious.”

“Yes, but if you—”

“Anna, drop it!” he said sternly.

“Couldn’t we just try it? Alex and I—”

“No.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you.”

“Come on, Robert,” she said with a curious smile, “what don’t you want me to find in that head of yours?”

“What? Nothing. Look, I’ve been reenacting Sleeping Beauty for the better part of a year, Anna. I’d rather not take any chances, all right?”

She considered his request and nodded, then stood and walked away again.

“I’m sorry,” he said, recognizing her disappointment.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said still facing away from him with her arms folded.

He stood and approached her. “Anna,” he whispered as he folded his arms around her from behind, “it’s gonna be all right. You’ll see.” He didn’t have to see her face to guess that tears were welling up in her big brown eyes.

She nodded again. “I know,” she said.

“We’ll figure it out, love.”

“I know,” she said again. She wiggled out of his grip and turn to face him. “I’m just so frustrated, you know?” Her lower lip quivered and the tears threatened to fall even as anger burned behind them. “Damn it, Robert!” She shoved at him.

She wasn’t angry at him. He knew that. She would much rather have been laying into Faison, but in his absence, Robert was the stand in.

“That man has destroyed every chance we’ve ever had at happiness and now he’s doing the same thing to Robin and her family!”

Her fists came at him, one after the other, pummeling him like a human punching bag. If he’d been stronger, he’d have let her have at it for a while longer, but currently that wasn’t an option. He rushed in to scoop her up into his embrace again before she could swing again. She didn’t fight him. Instead, she crumbled into him, sliding her arms under his and wrapping them up over his shoulders. She clung to him, soaking his shirt with salt water as he swayed slowly and shushed her softly.

“We were so close,” she murmured. “So close. She was here,” she cried. “I just want to hold my baby, Robert.”

“And you will. I promise. Come here.” He let go and took her hand, leading her over to the cot. They sat side by side, backs to the wall. He put an arm around her as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Now, look at it this way. A week ago you thought she was gone. Now you know they have her, but you know she’s alive, right?”

“Right,” she said, taking his free hand. She squeezed his fingers between hers. She sniffed. “She’s alive.” She wiped her eyes with the other hand as she sat up. “Do you think that we should—”

His face stopped her midsentence. His head rested on the cement block wall behind them. His eyes were closed. The dark bags around them spoke volumes. He lifted his head when she fell silent.

“Do I think we should what, love?”

“Ah… Do you think we should try to get some sleep? I mean, the circumstances aren’t ideal, but I am rather tired,” she said, knowing he wouldn’t admit that he was exhausted, but he would sleep if he thought she needed to.

“You are? How’s your head? You don’t think it’s a concussion, do you?”

“No. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s just been a stressful day. Maybe if we get some rest we’ll be able to think more rationally about this whole thing.”

“You’re probably right about that.”

“Okay. So, you take the cot,” she said, getting to her feet.

“Where are you going sleep?”

“I can sleep in the chair.” She found an electrical pannel on the opposite wall and turned off the overhead lamps, leaving them in the soft glow of emergency lighting.

“Or we can both sleep here,” he suggested, patting the mattress next to him.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Robert.”

“What? We’ve occupied smaller spaces than this. Remember Beirut?” he said with a wry smile.

“I do,” she laughed. And I also remember that we damn near lost our mark because you couldn’t keep your hands off me.”

“Hmm. Well, I was younger then and much more flexible. And Lavery wasn’t part of the equation.”

She eyed him skeptically.

“Your virtue is safe tonight, my dear. Scout’s honor,” he said, raising his right hand.

She smiled at him. “Fine, but you take the wall,” she said, slipping off her heels and hanging her jacket on the back of the chair.

He removed his shoes too and lay down on top of the blanket, turning on to his side.

She positioned herself next to him facing away but was not surprised, nor bothered by his arms encircling her waist.

After a few minutes he heard her giggle. “What?” he said.

She covered her face with her hand, still laughing. “This just reminds me of that bloody train ride, that’s all.”

“The honeymoon train to hell?”

“Yes! Trying to fit into the upper berth. God, it was awful!”

He gave a small chuckle. “At least this time we don’t have to deal with motion sickness.”

“Thank God!” she said with a sigh. “Robert?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you ever wonder what might have happened with us? You know… if Faison hadn’t happened. Again. Do you think we could have made it work the second time?”

“I don’t know, Anna,” he said quietly. “I know that when we said our vows, I meant them.”

“Me too. Every word.”

“We had our share of trouble. God only knows. But we certainly had a lot of good times, didn’t we?”

“The best.”

“Those memories of you and me… Robin… they got me through some pretty dark moments.”

“Sometimes they’re the only thing that get me through the day—memories of Robin,” she quickly clarified.

“Name one,” he said.

“What?”

“A favorite memory.”

“Right now?”

“Why not?”

“All right…” She thought for a second. “The day I we told her we were her parents.”

“Good one.”

“Your turn.”

“Ah, the day I gave her the puppy.” He laughed. “You were fit to be tied. You and Duke.”

“No we weren’t!”

“Were too. You covered it well, though. Next.”

“Robin’s dance recital.”

“Ooh… and the delayed-gratification dress. That’s high on my list too. How about our second wedding? I think Robin was as happy as we were. Go again,” he prompted her.

She smiled. “Robin’s wedding. Having you there to walk her down the aisle.”

“And after the wedding,” he chided.

“Robert!”

“You were drunk on champagne and I was drunk on you. Intoxicated by the radiant beauty of the mother of the bride,” he went on.

“I thought we agreed never to talk about that,” she said in a hushed tone.

“Who’s going to hear it?”

They both had to laugh at that. Neither spoke again for quite some time, each lost in thought. Finally she broke the silence. “Thank you,” she said.

“For what?”

“For the trip down memory lane. It was nice.” She yawned and stretched. Her hand came to rest on his, their fingers intertwining.

“My pleasure,” he said. “Sleep now, love. Tomorrow we can get back to work. Find a way out of this mess.”

“And we find our daughter… and take her home… to Port Charles,” she said sleepily.

“Damn right.”

“To Patrick and Emma…”

“To Patrick and Emma,” he repeated. He felt her inhale deeply and let it out. Her body relaxed against his. He kissed the back of her head and whispered good night. He allowed himself to relax too, but before drifted off to sleep, he made a promise—a promise to himself, to Anna, and to Robin and Emma. This time, he would reunite mother and daughter. Faison would not win again. Robert would die before he would let him win again.

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The Novelist’s Approach to Writing Soaps

Soap : a serial drama, on television or radio, that features related story lines dealing with the lives of multiple characters. The stories in these series typically focus heavily on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. (Wikipedia)

There has been much speculation about the cause of decline in soap ratings. Some say that it’s due to women working outside the home. Others blame the presence of internet, or the rise in popularity of reality TV. But this raises a few questions for me. I ran home from school every day and watched with the help of a VCR. Working women can still watch with the aid of DVR. Why aren’t they? And if young people are watching reality TV for the melodrama it delivers, then why are soaps, which by definition deliver melodrama, unable to cash in on this? My theory: a decline in quality of writing. Some may assume that you can only attract younger viewers with fast-paced, non-stop action. I respectfully disagree. Action alone does not good drama make. Viewers, young or old, are not stupid. They have high standards for entertainment and recognize a good story when they see it. If you pick up a novel and the author doesn’t deliver, you put it down. If you turn on a show and the writer doesn’t deliver, you turn it off. Good writing is good writing, no matter what form comes in. Here are three key elements to good writing that apply to novels and TV serial dramas alike.

Characterization

In addition to a good story line, you need believable, consistent characters. They need to be people we can relate to on some level and identify with. Sometimes, we love them and sometimes we love to hate them, but we need care about them. We want to root for them. And perhaps most importantly, we want to know what to expect from them. That doesn’t mean that the story has to be predictable. In fact, in most cases, we don’t want that. But, each character has a history and a personality that should dictate their words and actions in any given scene. Yes, we expect them to change and grow over-time, but if they behave in a manner that is uncharacteristic, then there should be a reason for it and that reason should be made clear to the audience.

Relationship Building

The audience will not be invested in what happens to your characters if they’re not invested in the relationship between the characters. If you want your audience to feel for a man who lost his wife, they need some explanation of the relationship. They need some kind of evidence that he actually cared for her. This could come in the form of a flashback that shows them a piece of the couple’s history. It could be by way of a discussion the man has with his potential love interest about his past. You need to evoke those emotions from the audience by showing them what he felt for her, not just telling them he loved her. They need to see it to believe it.

An audience will feel the gut-wrenching pain of a mother who has lost her daughter when they’ve watched her act as a mother to that child and seen the relationship develop over time. They will cry with her when they remember the good and bad times that they celebrated or survived together. They are less likely to weep for an aunt who loses the niece she’s been raising if said aunt and niece only appeared in one scene together throughout the entire story line. If you want the audience to buy into the emotion, the relationship building cannot take place completely off of the canvas. It takes away from the drama. (Face it. Nothing that takes place off camera is emotionally satisfying. You can’t tell me that Julie Chen’s recap of the HOH competition is as exciting as watching it live!)

Proper Use of Flashbacks

I am a fan of a good flashback. I use them in my writing. I enjoy a good flashback on television. But the operative word here is good. Flashback should serve a very specific purpose. That purpose is to provide the audience with information that they did not have before without taking away from the original story or disrupting the flow of the action. Flashbacks should not be used to recap information that the audience has already seen. Nor should they be used to explain a part of the mystery that the audience is capable of figuring out on their own. If you’ve done your job well, the audience will be involved and interested enough to follow along. Taking the time to explain what they already know is a waste of time and assumes something about their intelligence.

I’m not naïve. I do understand that writing for a show that runs five days a week fifty-two weeks a year is different than writing a single manuscript in that same amount of time. The fast pace of soap production must present its own problems that a novelist can’t even begin to understand. But I have always seen soaps as the world’s longest series of romance/mystery/action-adventure novels all rolled into one exquisite, dramatic presentation. (For those of us who watched the alien and demon possession story lines of the 90’s, you can throw sci-fi into that mix too.) A serial drama, in print or on screen, has to grab and keep the audience’s attention. You have to deliver not only on the action, but with the characters, and avoid over-explaining or playing down to your audience. A very wise editor once told me, if the writing isn’t up to snuff, a reader may not know what is wrong, but they will know that something is wrong. That something will turn them off. Soap writers, if your viewers know something is wrong, they are likely to turn your show off.

These are just my two cents, though I have a feeling, based on my twitter feed, some other fans might agree. If you do, or you don’t, please feel free to comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts. This brings me to one final piece of advice for the soap scribes out there. When reviews come in, some are good. Some are bad. Authors have to choose which pieces of criticism to ignore and which ones to learn from. Writers, you are under scrutiny. Everyone has opinion and a voice in today’s social media circus. That doesn’t mean that you have to pay attention to all of them, nor are you obligated to respond or defend yourself. Sometimes you just have to brush off the negative stuff. (You’ll never make everyone happy when it comes to who should be sleeping with whom.) But, if you find that there is a common thread to the critiques, you may want to take some time to reflect. We all have room to grow. It’s a necessary part of life and professional development.

 

The Tour That Never Took Off

Friends and followers,

I was asked to take part in the a blog tour several weeks ago, but due to finals week, a class trip, and moving classrooms, my tour was delayed. Below is the report on my night life, now that my day job is no longer getting in the way.

1. What are you working on?

I’m currently working on my second novel. It is the sequel to Once in Love with Lily. The working title is Forever, Tony. For all of those who read the original and wondered, “What happens now?”, you’ll have to read it to find out. But I can tell you that there is much more to Lily and Tony’s story. Happily ever after would be far too simple. There are still many twists, turns, and secrets to be revealed.

And yes, for my GH friends, now that summer has arrived I hope to have more time for Endgame as well. I know you have been waiting “patiently” for the continuation.  https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

2. How is your work different from other pieces in its genre?

According to the reports, the difference between my romantic fiction and typical novels of the genre is that Lily is far less predictable and much more realistic than others. Some say that it is a fairy tale, yet down to earth. Others have said that it “depicts how love actually happens”. Locations are also real and identifiable, so world travelers may experience nostalgia for areas of Paris, London, and New York, yet those who’ve never been can live vicariously.

  1. Why do you write what you write?

I write what I write out of an obsession for celebrity bios and soap operas. I love the idea of the show-business life. I’ve often said I think I should have lived in New York the 1950’s so that I could have enjoyed Broadway during the heyday of Lerner and Lowe and Rogers and Hammerstein. But, alas, I was born in 1975, and I fell in love with daytime television in the late eighties, when Gloria Monty was the queen of General Hospital and the tag line for soaps was “Love in the Afternoon!” The result: I’ve melded those two worlds together and created a love story that I would enjoy watching unfold like a daytime drama (without the aliens or prosthetic masks, or D.I.D. storylines).

4. Describe your process.

When I began the adventure, I had no process whatsoever. I didn’t even realize that there was a process. I never studied writing. I never knew that I wanted to be a writer. (Yes, some people have said that they hate me for this!) But now I can’t imagine not writing. For one thing, the creative outlet allows for the stories in my head to have a place to go.

If I had to classify myself, I’d say that I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I never plan out anything beyond a basic outline. I don’t even write lesson plans on a regular basis (Don’t tell my principal I said that! I do plan. I just don’t always write it down!) I’m certainly not going to plot out an entire novel.  I do have a beginning and an ending point in mind, but the stuff that comes in between is just the characters telling their story. There is a natural ebb and flow in the action, but I don’t focus on the plot arc too much at all.  When the first draft is complete, I then revisit those things and begin to add reinforcement to the general structure. I don’t over intellectualize, first of all, because I didn’t study the craft the same way others have. Second, because I believe that the quality of the story is as much about the way it makes me or the readers feel as it is about the plot outline.

A Note of Appreciation

Many thanks to Eric Ralph for encouraging me to participate in the tour and forgiving my untimeliness. If you haven’t experienced Eric’s work yet, visit http://ericmralph.com/ By his own proclamation, he writes strange, funny things and funny, strange things. He’s always good for a laugh, a pun, or an 80’s reference. His first novel is a remarkable piece of religious satire called And God said… An Absurd Tale of Love, Power, and Paperwork –the story of what happens when God retires, gets married, and moves to Jamaica.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C334PIA