Scene Breakdown of Illuminae

This is the foolscap for Illuminae. Meaning, it’s the scene-breakdown of the story. Despite being told in its unique way, there is still a distinct story to follow. One that hits all of the conventions and obligatory scenes fans expect from an action story. And, it does so by leaving the reader to infer much of what is going on. Because of that, I find the story to be a great mental exercise in how to write better.

Once more, be warned. Spoilers Ahead.

Beginning Hook:

  • Inciting Incident. BeiTech attacks Kerenza and the last battleship, the Lincoln, is in pursuit of the three space ships that managed to get away: Hypatia, Copernicus, and the Alexander
  • Complication. The Lincoln actively pursues them. The Alexander is low on water and must stop for some, thus depleting their lead. Also, each ship holds way more refugees than the ships were designed for
  • Crisis. AIDEN (the computer program designed to protect everyone aboard): Should he destroy Copernicus to maintain the safety of the other ships? Or, does he risk cross-contamination with Phobos Beta, the biological warfare BeiTech used in their attack?
  • Ezra: Help Kady hack into the Alexander’s computer systems so that she can tell him what happened to his friend James or don’t run the risk, and wonder what happened to him?
  • Kady: Tell Ezra what happened to James and risk him doing something stupid, or lie to him so that he stays safe but doesn’t know the truth?
  • Climax. AIDEN attacks Copernicus and blows up the ship.
  • Ezra helps Kady and almost gets caught planting her chip into the mainframe computers.
  • Kady tells Ezra the truth, but makes him promise not to do anything stupid or risky before she lets him know.
  • Resolution. A few ships from Copernicus make it aboard the Alexander and they are immediately quarantined in Bay 4.
  • James was sent into Bay 4 for a code blue to keep the afflicted from breaking out. During the tussle, a sick girl rips open his hazmat suit. He is forced to stay in Bay 4 knowing that he’s going to turn into one of the afflicted. (Meaning he’ll become a killer like them.)
  •  Kady now knows the truth about what happened to Copernicus (where her mother was stationed) and shares it with her mentor.

Middle Build:

  • Inciting Incident. The countdown to the Lincoln’s arrival makes the threat more real.
  • Complication. They have to get AIDEN back online if the have any chance of beating the Lincoln, or even getting away. But once they do, he destroyed their means of controlling him. Then, he releases the afflicted into the Alexander so that they won’t turn him back off. He does this despite his need to protect the humans and excuses the behavior by convincing himself that they need his protection.
  • Crisis. Kady has gotten herself aboard the Alexander in hopes of saving Ezra. Thought, once there, AIDEN tells her has already died. Her choice is to stay on the Alexander and repair AIDEN or get the hell off the ship and hope Hypatia can get away from the Lincoln without AIDEN’s help.
  • Climax. AIDEN tells her that there are over 1,000 survivors aboard the Alexander. She therefore makes a deal with him to let them get to safety. In return, she’ll stay and fix him so that they can challenge the Lincoln and help Hypatia get away and survive.
  • Resolution. She manages to help save 659.

Ending Payoff:

  • Inciting Incident. Hypatia accepts the survivors and then speeds away from the Lincoln and Alexander.
  • Complication. AIDEN cannot be fixed from where Kady is. She has to take off her hazmat suit to walk outside the ship to get to the room where she can fix him. In the meantime the afflicted find her and hunt her down.
  • Crisis. The first crisis is whether or not Kady can fly the ship so that AIDEN can hit the Lincoln with it’s nuclear weapons. AIDEN is too damaged to do it himself.
  • Climax. She flies it well enough and manages to shoot some of their guys down in the process.
  • Crisis. Kady has succumbed to gamma radiation exposure, there is only 2 hours left of oxygen on the Alexander, and the ship will blow up in 28 minutes and 17 seconds. AIDEN must convince her, despite her exhaustion, to try and escape.
  • Climax. He convinces her and she manages to make it out into space with the console that collected the information about what BeiTech did in it.
  • Crisis. Should Hypatia go back and look for Kady? And, should they let her aboard once they find her? There’s a slim chance they will find her and, if they do, she could be infected.
  • Climax. They go back and find her. She’s let onto the ship, receives treatment for the radiation poisoning, and is reunited with Ezra who is actually alive.
  • Resolution. Kady, with the help of AIDEN, is now free to collect all the evidence against BeiTech she can gather. It turns out Leanne, Ezra’s mother, is in charge of BeiTech and has hired the Illuminae group (i.e. Kady) to gather that evidence to be destroyed. In one last IM session, Kady tells Leanne that she’s coming for her.

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