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Plot - It's Not What It Looks Like


inner courtyard of a frightening, enclosed, uninhabited, dark building that rises dozens of stories creating a suffocating feeling for the observer.

Thriller | Pinckerton - United States, 2001


Main characters

Lisa Parker is a serene woman. Her life is full of satisfaction: she is beautiful, wealthy, healthy, and has a happy family of two children and a husband, Jack, who loves her. Lisa owns a perfumery in downtown Pinckerton, and business is booming. Credit to Lisa's commitment to the social life of the town, always active in committees and projects that serve the community.


The call to adventure

One morning Lisa opens her eyes and realizes she is in a hospital room, but she cannot explain why. In fact, she does not remember the past or even her identity. Later, with the help of Professor Stoner, a neurologist, she will realize that she has been in a coma for over twenty years, after being found dying in the suburbs of New York City from an overdose.


The conflict

Slowly and with much effort, the professor manages to help the mysterious woman who has slept so long in her hospital room. Lisa reassembles some fragments of the past, but they are not sharp. Some time later, she remembers her name, family, and finally, even the country where she came from. Yet, nothing she remembers seems to belong to her, as if it were blurred, too far away.


The professor, however, takes the woman's fate to heart and does his best to help her. When Pinckerton's name emerges from Lisa's memory, the professor decides to accompany her to visit the town, to protect her and to study the situation.


The key

The town is almost deserted, many have left, and no one among those who remained seems to recognize the woman. The search for Lisa's house fails; it seems to have never existed. One evening, in a pub, the professor strikes up a conversation with the sheriff, who recalls that twenty years earlier, at the same time Lisa was found in New York, a Pinckerton family had been exterminated for unknown reasons.


But the family's name was Turner. Checking the files, the professor and the sheriff understand the similarity between the Turners and the family described by Lisa. Through hypnosis, the neurologist discovers that Lisa Parker was a young drug addict and had been hired as a housekeeper by the Turners at the time. Lisa had become her husband's mistress, discovered by his wife and fired. This was the motive that drove her to carry out the massacre. From there the escape, then the overdose and coma.


Plot alternatives

The first possible modification is the incipit: the story can start from the awakening and reconstruct with flashbacks, or follow the time of events linearly. The second modification can be the point of view: a novel like this one changes a great deal whether told by an omniscient narrator, the protagonist, or the professor.


Obviously, one can act on the gender of the characters, and above all there is great freedom in choosing different places or eras (with other reasons why the protagonist goes into a coma: a fall, an accident, etc.).

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