So, for four years i've been trying to plot this one novel. I have a strong setting, an idea of the principle characters, i have the overall theme (anti-consumerism and the idea of the rich-elite feeding on the poor) and an idea of their character goals - or what should happen to them at the end. As part of the research for this i will be travelling and working in China and i've studied Mandarin on and off for about 3 years (doing an Open university qualification this year). Setting - China in the near future Background: A selfish, hedonistic western businessman travels to China to develop newly licensed recreational smart-drugs using new technologies (including cloning) becomes embroiled in high society - mingling with the rich elite, international royalty and the movers and shakers of the political arena. He soon discovers a dark secret about a delicacy that is being served in private, exclusive restaurants to only those that can afford it. He meets and falls in love with his young free-thinking translator who is an activist - and eventually sacrifices himself in order to save her. Now the problems i have are mainly logistical. I'm having trouble finding a voice for the main character and being able to believably make the transition from an absolute **** to a selfless character without necessarily subjecting him to an intense ordeal. I'm also having trouble encapsulating what his actual story goal is. I'm also very wary of creating the female lead as a matrix-esque character or one of those rubbish 90's "underground" lone gunmen type figures. She is chinese, but i wanted her to play against the stereotypical Chinese female role (ie neither a supplicant semi-servant nor a kung-fu dominatrix). Similarly - would her story goal be to simply expose and liberate? Would her love affair with the MC be believable? The main antagonist is a rich playboy artist who befriends MC at first and welcomes him into this hidden world. As a representative of the pharmaceutical company MC has the resources he needs in order to procure the delicacy which he has fixated on. His storygoal is primarily to prevent himself and his clique of rich friends from being exposed. originally when i had thought of this, MC was cast as a journalist but this seemed too hackneyed and obvious. Part of the purpose of the novel is to be taken into the pharmacists world, in a Huxleyesque way to show a series of vignettes based around the horrors contained therein.