QUESTIONS TO ANSWER:
- Does the world need a reason for existing?
- What is our villain?
- Who are our protagonists?
PLOT: Someone hires a monster for a menial task, to be used as a patsy, or perhaps to facilitate some kind of money laundering or crime. Like an orc gets hired for accountancy. But because the temp agency are actually good at picking the right person for the job, the orc figures out what's going on, and dies for it. INCITING INCIDENT.
PROBLEM OUR PROTAGONIST IS TACKLING: Monsters used as a disposable cheap underclass of workers, mistreated and discarded. Temp agency becomes a way to allow monsters, who have skills and value and worth, to find decent work and maybe permanent employment.
OPENING SCENE, DRAFT 1:
They lined up in the morning. It was bright, misty, and dewdrops condensed in their fur. Aa'haga shivered in the cold. His thin, pastel-blue t-shirt barely kept the moisture off, and he was hungry. They were all hungry. Most of them were thin. Some of them were barely alive. They waited for the trucks to come.
The growling of an engine perked the to attention, some of them waving their work permits even before the car came into view. It was just a sedan, some guy in a suit by the wheel, causing a collective stir of discomfort to run through the group. Suits were the type to call the cops. Someone got a coughing fit, someone else collapsed. It was just another day.
Then the first truck pulled up and the shouting started. Shouting, waving papers, clamoring. /I'm strong! I'm healthy! I can work! I can work!/ Nobody bothered begging, because begging didn't work. The man on the flatbed picked out a couple of young bucks, then turned around and fiddled with his phone. Someone who'd been lucky enough to work the day before stuck up a ten dollar bill, the man snatched it and motioned for the briber to get in the van. More people got their bills out, more people got on the truck. Another truck pulled up, then, and the crowd splintered as people ran to be the first to reach the next hope. Then another truck, then another. People shouted, people waved their papers, people got on the trucks. With a little luck, come sundown, most of them would make it back, too.
When the frenzy was over, the oldest and the weakest staggered off. Someone laid still on the ground, knocked over in the stampede. He might not get up again. Aa'haga, unlucky today, didn't spare him a look. He put his work permit away and walked off towards the industrial quarter. Sometimes, someone fainted on the production line and you could get lucky work by the door. His stomach grumbled, and he felt nauseous. He walked on.
TOPIC: [Who are our protagonists?]
'Main' protagonist: Privileged, idealistic human trying to - airquotes - 'solve inequality' essentially, arrives with tons of plans and ideas and a blazing saviour complex. Not a bad person, just... y'know, kind of a clueless person.
'Secondary' protagonist: Jaded, cynical, competent and clever monster character, seen it all before, "reluctant sibling" kind of dynamic where they keep the 'main' protagonist out of trouble while trying to teach them not to be an airheaded idiot about things.
'Main' protagonist doesn't resolve the plot - they have an important role in it (otherwise they'd be useless) but they do not have the aha moment.
'Main' protagonist: Still privileged, still kinda clueless, but not arriving with ivory tower zeal to save the world. Rather, gets picked up by the momentum of things and gets invested by way of trying to keep up with things.
'Secondary' protagonist: Monster character who is ALREADY DOING THE THING (albeit in a different form) but who needs some aspect of the 'main' character's character to make it work.
So okay so uuuh... fuck oh okay ok ok ok ok ok ok ok o k oIKRIGHGT I GOT IT FINE FUCK SHIT FUCK OKAY
our main character are, they're, i dunno, they're like listless drifters or rootless or somehow unmoored from "conventional" society and........ i guess they're bloggers or some shit? i dunno whatever it is it's not successful and doesn't make money
like i dunno
THEY WANDER INTO LIKE A BAD PART OF TOWN probably because they want to write some bullshit on their blog about social inequality
and they nearly get killed but FANFARE secondary protagonist pulls their shit out of the fire by not being a moron and that's our point of contact
Secondary protagonist runs like... i dunno a community group or like a halfway house or like a shelter - WHATEVER - for monsters w/ nowhere else to go
so secondary protagonist is ALREADY Doing The Thing (i.e. helping combat the problem) but they're struggling because, y'know, nobody gives a shit about them
so main protagonist... what? they... something? do something? OKAY NO WAIT OK SO
main protagonist, by virtue of being parent money sponging useless layabouts, can access resources and advantages that our secondary cannot
which they do randomly it's like
OK RIGHT OKAY
THEY MEET A GUY
AT THE SHELTER
they meet like i dunno, OH I KNOW an orc named Dennis. Dennis is a fucking math genius and just wants to do some quiet accounting job or something and not get messed with and he is like super nice and quiet and shy (i.e. the opposite of everything humans associate with orcs), and our protag is like, okay i can put you in touch with someone. SO LIKE THEY FIND HIM A JOB. Not because they really wanted to or anything but just as a way of paying back secondary protagonist for pulling their ass out of the fire.
'Main' protagonist is an idle rich, privileged character. Unmoored and lonely, ultimately, because they feel like they have no place in "polite" society where they're supposed to belong, but also too listless and directionless to make something useful out of themselves.
"Aspiring writer" type, has some vague notion of someday writing the next great american novel. Decides to go to impoverished parts of town to misery tourist for inspiration. Gets into trouble because of course, and secondary protagonist pulls their ass out of the fire.
'Secondary' protagonist runs a shelter, or maybe a bar or some kind of social hub, for monsters who even among monsters do not quite fit in, or who are especially down and out.
Main protag goes there, meets an orc named Dennis who is too shy and reticent to "be a good orc" but who cannot find work because, again, orcs get work in manual labor because humans assume that's all they're good for.
So our main protag, by virtue of being connected, gets Dennis a job interview and eventually some work. Word about this /gets around/ and main protag has their door beaten down by people looking for more work. Secondary protagonist eggs this on, because 1) they wanna mess with main protag for being a clueless dick and 2) hey, if it works it works.
And from THERE spirals the monster temp agency. Which our main protagonist does their level best NOT to be a part of, because it smells too much of responsibility and engagement for their vain self. Nonetheless, the momentum pulls them along and they become, functionally, the contact person, the bridge to decent, real employment for monsters.
Human, "Louie Rust". Handsome, but not amazingly attractive, well-off but not famously wealthy, well educated but unable to put it to any useful use. Charming, occasionally, but largely clueless of the world outside his own bubbles of perception. An Instagram brat without a lot of success.
Troll, "Sjovn Under The Neon Light." Serious, cynical and competent, large like most trolls. Compassionate, but gruff. Not a hopeful person, but a determined one. Runs a shelter for monsters down on their luck, a "safe space" from drug dealing, crime and violence universally understood as a safe zone because nobody wants to mess with Sjovn. Everybody's older sister now, someone's mother once.
It was bright, misty, and dewdrops condensed in the flowerbeds below. Louie Rust, vaguely anticipating coffee, listened to the drone of the espresso machine and stared out over the grounds from his open window. He lived in a nice place, all in all. Clean. Pleasant. Quiet. Respectable. God, how he hated it. The embers of dissatisfaction smouldered vaguely under the fog of drowsiness in his head as he heard the espresso machine finished, and he lumbered into his little kitchen to pour a cup and eat half-burnt toast. EDM warbled out of his radio in between ad breaks, and overexcited canned hosts throwing to the next ad break after that.
The ember of dissatisfaction, stoked by caffeine, became the bonfire of anxiety and he swiped open Instagram. Fifty-seven likes on the selfie from last night, a couple of comments. Two attractive young women wanted him to see their naked video now, please click the link, bit.ly/notaphishingscam, heart emoji. He scrolled through, leaving likes and brief comments on things without really looking at them. Then he put the phone down and took a bite of his toast. Then he picked the phone up again. Put it down. Toast. Up again. Down. Coffee. Up again. Toast. Down. Coffee. Toast.
He couldn't post about morning coffee and toast again, it would get old two days in a row. He wanted to buy a book so he could recommend it, or find a café. Brushing crumbs off his shirt, he went looking for some content.
Louie Rust had a normal life. He'd been raised by normal parents in a normal house, gone to normal schools and made normal friends and, as is normal, promptly lost touch with them when he graduated college with a degree in English Literature. He had moved into a normal apartment and started a normal blog with a normal number of followers*, and worked normal jobs on the side. He was normal. Things were normal.
"My friend Margaret, you know Margaret, she's the one with the husband who runs the hairspray company, and she says—"
"Yes, mom," said Louie.
"—and you could just try it for a week and you wouldn't have to stay for too long if you didn't like it but I just—"
"Yes, mom," he objected.
"—lots of opportunities you know if you just show up every day and apply yourself to—"
"Yes, mom," he opined.
"—but will you just please call her? I sent you her number, and she knows you'll be calling so please do it this time. Okay Louie?"
"Yes, mom," he lied.
"I'm just so worried you'll get left behind. The job market is really hard for people who don't have experience you know."
"Yes, mom," he disagreed.
"Ok I have to go, I have a meeting, but you will /call her/ all right? I'll see you next week. I love you."
"Yes, mom," he conceded, and she hung up.
Louie put the phone in his pocket, then took it out again. He took a selfie, and it came out awful. He put the phone away again and fiddled with it in his pocket. He wandered past shops and bodegas down Snakeskin Street, and bought a hot dog from a werewolf. It would probably be a full moon soon, judging by the man's bristling beard. He considered tweeting something supportive about full moon awareness as he ate the last bit of sausage. He sidled into a comic shop and flipped through a few issues, then to a bookstore where he tried to look well-read for a selfie. It came out okay. He bought a paperback about economic inequality in the third world and went to a cafe where the server got his name wrong. He tweeted something relatable about it. A couple of pretty elves giggled about something in the corner and he watched them surreptitiously for a while. He liked elves, but then, everybody did. When he finally took a sip of his coffee it had gotten lukewarm, and the autumn sun was setting. He sighed, and left it and left the café and wandered into the chill hoping to feel cold rather than useless.
He was not depressed, he was pretty sure of that. He didn't feel sad—at least not sad enough—he thought, and he probably didn't have real anxiety. Not like a lot of other people had it. He had had a plan, when he graduated, that he would write something. He'd told his parents it would be a novel, he'd told his friends it would be articles for some paper. He'd told himself it would be /something./ His parents had agreed to pay his rent and his food for a couple of years, which was nice of them. They could afford it anyway.
He saw a vampire walk past - he could tell by the black eyes - and wondered if blood tasted the same to them. They only drank pig's blood, of course, but there were always rumors. He thought about his blog. Then he tweeted about his blog, specifically that he hadn't posted anything on it for six weeks and he felt bad about it. A group of dwarfs ambled past, hunched under heavy backpacks. They probably didn't contain any gold, but there were always rumors.
He hit a corner store, and glanced at the dirty magazines. The shopkeeper, a burly oak dryad with a bird's nest over his ear, argued with his wife in a thick Russian accent. He bought a bag of chips and a bottle of coke and set off homewards.
*i.e. two friends, three strangers and about a hundred and fifty spambots