Hi Ella! Thanks for tagging me! I liked your suggestions, especially the one where Dr. Arrowood has some sort of attachment to Rubi (hello complications!) How have you been?
Hi Claire! I’m Lily. You have a really interesting plot situation; is your story MG or YA? (Sometimes, when I’m working on a project, I find it helpful to take a long break so that when I return, new ideas already start coming to mind.) 🙂
Okay, on to your first question. ‘What should be his goal in this story?’ You thought about adding something terrible in his past (maybe something traumatic?), but seemed unsure what it would be. What if Dr. Arrowood doesn’t want to just erase his own memory but the memory of other people? Here’s two different examples:
One: What if Dr. Arrowood was the one responsible for some horrific accident that not only affected him, but other people (wife, child, innocent bystanders, etc.)? What if some people hold a grudge against him or vowed revenge? If he could make them forget, then they wouldn’t be after him. Or maybe he thinks if he can erase his memory, then he’d be free of the guilt that’s eating him up (maybe someone close to him dies in the accident?)
Two: What if, instead, Dr. Arrowood committed some crime, or some illegal/unethical experiment? What if he was found out and his fellow scientists turned him out in disgrace? What if, because of that, he loses his influence and his reputation is trashed, so he’s forced to hide? If he could make the other scientists forget, he’d be ‘redeemed’, and could return home. That could be a very selfish motive.
Next question: ‘Why is Rubi willing to break with everything she knows to find out the truth about her past?’
In the Giver (by Lois Lowry), Jonas lives his normal life, not questioning the rules or how things are done. Until he begins to notice strange occurrences. What if Rubi begins to notice strange things (maybe minor at first, then they steadily grow bigger and bigger?) Perhaps Dr. Arrowood starts to let something slip, maybe she glimpses his experiment notes. You mentioned that her sidekick is the son of a man whose memory was wiped by Dr. Arrowood. How does the son meet Rubi? Does he know what happened to his father or does he have any clue who did it? Perhaps he could stir up Rubi’s curiosity. Maybe he wants her help and if so, why? All these things could drive Rubi to question who Dr. Arrowood really is and what’s he doing. Maybe she starts to question if he did anything to her.
If you want Rubi to retain parts of her memory, I think it’s possible to weave that into the story. Like @writergilr101 suggested, maybe medicine, or Dr. Arrowood’s experiment try to suppress her memory as it starts to come back; but for some reason, it doesn’t work, and eventually, Rubi figures out to keep quiet about her returning memory. That could also lead her to question what is going on.
Third Question: ‘How should Rubi stand in his way? Is he close to erasing his own memory?’ I’ll just roll these two together.
Alright, last one (promise! Thanks for hanging in there with me 🙂 ) I’m not exactly sure how Rubi could stand in Dr. Arrowood’s way. Maybe, as she’s getting close to discovering the truth, he’s afraid she’ll reveal what he’s doing and it’ll come to a stop. So maybe he tries to hide it from her, or stop her; but since she’s curious and determined, she keeps finding ways to get around his obstacles. (quick question: is Rubi the MC/point of view character, or Dr. Arrowood?) If it’s Dr. Arrowood, he may see Rubi as a threat to revealing his experiments; therefore he tries to get rid of her/stop her, but maybe struggles to do so since she’s been with him for so long (is he attached to Rubi?)
I’ve noticed you’ve said that Dr. Arrowood has been working on this experiment for maybe 40 years? How old is he now? Could you use his age to generate conflict? For Example, does he have much longer to live? If not and he’s no closer to finding a way to erase select memories, maybe he gets more anxious, and start taking more dangerous steps to accomplishing his goal.
I’m so sorry that was a long post. I hope this has been helpful. 🙂
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway