Hello all, it's been a long time since I was last here. One of the reasons is that I've had a new job for the last two years, and a baby for the last one year, and both things are consuming my time in a manner unconceivable. ;-) About a year ago (when I at least still thought about writing, occasionally), I wanted (and I know that verb is going to draw criticism, but there it is!) to write a story set in the dynamic and high-flying world of politics and finance. I have plenty of inside knowledge to draw upon. From blatant corruption to massive overwork to systematic fraud to mindnumbing incompetence, I believe I've seen enough to last me a lifetime. In principle, that should make for good, even very good, storytelling. The issue at hand, however, is two-fold. 1. The Plot: I have absolutely no idea for an overarching plot. While everything in the world of high-flying finance is "urgent", few things are actually, genuinely, important. Nobody dies if the numbers are wrong tomorrow. If a trading system goes out of control, four senior technicians are temporarily suspended while some consultancy (or several!) looks into the matter for a few months (and eventually inevitably clear management from blame). If somebody has cheated massively, and a scandal rocks the City, all that happens is that the employing bank tries to claw back some of the 10m$ in bonuses from the cheater in a series of court suits (which is invariably boring, as both sides can afford top law firms that produce thousands of pages of legal documentation and justification that is about as effective at putting you to sleep as the most potent sleeping drugs - you could put the whole thing in two sentances, but that wouldn't be worth an astronomical fee, would it now... ). So that's one problem. 2. The Characters: No matter what I do, every time I try to think of characters for the story (hoping that a plot may appear out of thin air if I assemble a few characters that I like), I simply come up with stereotypes. But the problem is, all the people in this business [with very few exceptions] pretty much exactly confirm the stereotypes. You have: - The swaggering charismatic trader with the trophy wife and the Porsche who never loses at anything (seriously) and always cheats on everyone. Everyone knows, but he also always gets away with it. The only thing he ever lost at was online poker, where he stopped playing after losing three thousand dollars. - The constantly out-smarted risk manager/controller who does his job by the book and is constantly confronted with new ever larger packets of work that trickle down to him due to internal politics and regulatory changes. Regularly falls for tricks pulled by the trader that keep the trader officially profitable. - The creaking ramshackle IT department and its grizzled veterans who remember that they had a great IT infrastructure before the merger when it all went to hell. - The scheming partner at the law firm/consultancy or manager at the bank who constantly plots behind the scenes to gain more power and money. - The choleric partner at the law firm/consultancy or manager at the bank who has reached his position purely by strong-arming and shouting. - The junior female associate at the law firm/consultancy who is profoundly materialistic, devoid of any recognizable emotions or morals and is mainly promoted for her looks, rather than for her performance. - The junior male associate at the law firm/consultancy who works all night, every night, with a complete disregard for his own health/safety or that of others. Boundlessly ambitious and proud, full of contempt for anybody who works less than 14 hours a day and/or travels 2nd class. - The junior workers who are constantly duped into working long hours for low wages because they are "very special people" working on "sensitive, high priority" projects that "hold the key to their future careers". - The foreign half-businessman/half-politician who constantly tries to do business "his" way (i.e. the "foreign" way) and keeps half-failing/half-succeeding. In the end, the only thing he does is spend millions of tax money for little obvious gain except to vastly improve his own lifestyle. - The corrupt journalist who will publish anything for money. Standard fees are about 5k$ for a few well-placed words in an arbitrary article, 10k$ for a purpose-written one. Working with stereotypical people like these has made me despise them so much that I don't feel I can write anything about them. ;-) Now, I know it's difficult, but... any ideas?