I've been thinking about Gone lately, although for once not to the detriment of Running Forward, or whatever it ends up being called.
Originally, the plot went something like this: my protagonist wakes up one day to find out that everyone over the age of 18 has simply vanished from the world. The only humans left are her, her friends, her sister -- everyone her own age and younger.
The vague, foggy idea in my head was already turning this into a series of books, even before I'd written the first word. The books would cover Anna and the other survivors reacting to the loss of their parents and everything they'd known, then struggling to survive, and finally trying to figure out what had happened.
Tied into that were clues scattered here and there: all the adults she knew were acting weird the day before and the night before the vanishings; visions either her or her sister are having, of their parents, still alive and trying to communicate with them; and suggestions that some of the adults had known what was coming, and were leaving messages to try to help.
Which of course led to -- who did this? Aliens? Supernatural beings? Some diabolical, near omnipotent government experiment? And answering that question -- or more to the point, completely failing to answer that question to my own satisfaction -- has me wondering if the plot should be simpler in scope, but remain a tale of survival.
The alternate plot would only be that the adults had vanished, perhaps due to some catastrophic cosmic event. Perhaps there would be prior clues about lights in the sky, news reports about something glimpsed on radar; some kind of foreshadowing.
I like that too. And, I have to admit, it would allow me to indulge (or as much as the constraints of writing to a teen audience would allow) my penchant to abuse my characters in grisly ways. Not that the aliens-or-whatever plot wouldn't.
I like it, but I like the other one a little bit more. And that's really annoying me, becuase as much as I can come up with nefarious, semi-plausible explanations for what happened, I still can't come up with an explanation for why it happened. What would be the point of engineering a calamity like that? How would it benefit a group or a being or a group of beings?
(Of course, trying to concoct a plausible explanation for why someone would do it, while just blithely accepting that they could, might just be me overthinking this a little.)
Anyway, if I can answer that one, I'll be onto something. Fortunately, in the meantime I can keep stretching out the plot in my mind like taffy, and it will end up working no matter which way the setup finally points.
However, in the meantime I need to finish...whatever it's called. Progress on that one is...progressing.