Marginal Notes on Benghazi

On page 130 of my novel, The Hammer of God, the Ambassador to Egypt is kidnapped. This becomes the center issue of a dramatic debate, which is, I am sure, as old as terror and as fresh as yesterday:  Do you negotiate with terrorists?

As I was writing the scenes that take place in the Oval Office, the words got heated between the Secretary of State and the President. Both entrenched in their diametrically opposed positions, with the President not wanting to accede to the kidnapping and thereby instantly create an open season on US Ambassadors worldwide, while the Sec State wanted some back channel trade to release a mastermind terrorist that America was holding – in a super-max in the middle of the country.  To help me keep the beats of this ethical dilemma straight, I made a note: “The President is saving all future Ambassadors, the Sec State is trying to save the current one.”  This sub-textual motivation helped me keep the arguments between my characters aligned.

Yesterday, I was cleaning my desk, and found my notes from the blog I wrote, “Benghazi and Impotence”. Posted on September 15, 2012, when I ran across something that, even though I had seen, had no meaning on Sept. 15th but I believe does today.  I will attempt to retype it as I wrote it in marginal chicken-scratch of my early 2010 draft of my novel (pictured below).

The writing process: Plot twists and chicken-scratch.

“DS inside plot SS .  Take Amb, trade Sheik, back ch.  B&R disobey ‘unmolest’. Start real FF w/Friendlies.” Bring back CS to unc? Does JeA have GF?”

Okay, so that’s how I really write (misspellings and all) and it even took me a minute to decipher what I jotted down two years ago, here’s the handy-dandy index:

DS inside Plot SS – The kidnapping of the Ambassador was a plot hatched within the Diplomatic Security Service at the Direction of the Sec State. The plan was to force to force a back channel, out-of-the-news prisoner exchange of the Ambassador for a terrorist mastermind Sheik who was caught and held in America.

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