1. Lucrecia's main conflict arc: Lucrecia -vs- Society.
Summary of conflict: Lucrecia wants to become a world class scientist who makes a major discovery that ends up in textbooks, etc. Society is sexist as fucking fuck fuck and effort after effort after effort requires navigating around roadblocks that male graduate students, male post-docs, and male scientific staff just don't face.
Outcome: Lu makes multiple major discoveries, she knows she and her work is brilliant, but (canon, just like reality for many) her work is ignored during her lifetime and only receives "discovery" and recognized decades after her untimely early death. (which is the story of a number of brilliant real life women in science, sadly.... but the canon story is interesting as is and personally I find it POWERFUL to see a story about a woman who perseveres TO THE BITTER FUCKING END even when absolutely everyone and everything is against her and she has ZERO support, zero community, and no one understands her. Seriously. This kind of stick-to-itness is POWERFUL and needs to be told dammmmit and THIS is why I am sticking to canon and e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g it like wwwwwhhhhhhooooaaaaa.
And, fwiw, the young, freshly minted Dr. Shalua Rui is canonically a Dr. Lucrecia Crescent fangirl. Shalua will have a significant side-character role in Monsters as a friend/workmate of Yuffie's (at the WRO). And, yes, canon (Dirge) ensues. And, in Monsters, Yuffie takes over as the person who makes sure Lucrecia receives fair recognition for her work, even if posthumously.
Sub-conflict: Lucrecia -vs- A Messy Series of Relationships With Various Men is a sub-conflict of the larger Lu-vs-Society conflict. Her relationships with men cannot be separated from her career because her career is her primary #1 focus. Canon suggests a lot of under-told and subtextual mess. Monsters rolls around in the mess, makes it messier, and focuses on the realness of it. The whys. The trade-offs. The reasons. Monsters takes a very sympathetic view of her mess.
2. Vincent as a (canonically?) unreliable narrator regarding his past relationships. ;)
The Vince x Lu story is, canonically, a bit of a "he said, she said" tale full of poor communication plus a heaping tablespoon of delicious ambiguity. Monsters takes a specific viewpoint on VinLu, develops it, and uses different POVs (Vincent's vs Lucrecia's ... vs Yuffie's) to play with how Vincent vs Lucrecia understood whatever the hell happened between the two of them. Right now, the outline and scene list has Vincent tell a good bit of his story first ... and then Lucrecia's POV "corrects" the reader's understanding. ;)
Meanwhile, Monsters!Vincent has a long messy history of people he has tried to date, has dated, has had one night stands with, and has had messy, confusing relationships with. As I organize Monster's scene list, these brief "past relationship messes" are told from Vince's idiosyncratic POV, and always in juxtaposition with some sort of relationship fail occurring in the present (with Yuffie).
3. The Vincent x Yuffie story during the SECOND half of Monsters
Somewhere around the 50% mark of Monster's overarching arc, Vincent and Yuffie's unexamined relationmess implodes because, well, lol (headdesk), Yuffentine. ;)
The second half of the Yuffentine romance arc (if you dare call it romance, because Yuffie and Vincent don't do Romance) is about how they (separately) deal with the implosion, what brings them back together, how their relationship ends up stronger because of this, and then, from there, after a brief "honeymoon" of post-crisis fluff, a plot twist(??) occurs (maybe it isn't a twist. Maybe it is just The Other Plot Shoe Finally Drops) and their arc transitions into a "lovers in dangerous times" that is a pretty standard treatment of the trope of lovers/partners fighting an external conflict that puts threatens to make them choose between their relationship and "The Bad Thing The External Conflict Has Inflicted on Them." This kind of story follows well known patterns so it is pretty easy to outline and the test scenes so far feel useful.
4. Vincent's backstory.
I fucking love it. I love the backstory I have created for him. FIGHT ME. FIGHT. ME. IT IS THE BEST.
The backstory includes his childhood, his teen years, his career trajectory from undergraduate years up through a decade later when all goes wrong when he is working for Shinra. The backstory is being woven in as flashbacks in places that make sense. Sometimes he's thinking about it because events in the present time trigger memories from long ago. Other times the text suggests that he is telling some version of his past to Yuffie, although the story text (currently) remains ambiguous as to whether he is telling Yuffie the same level of detail that he tells the reader (or himself in his memories) or if he is editing the stories he tells her.
Okay. That's the stuff that works so far. (touch wood)....
AND NOW FOR THE THINGS THAT ARE SO MURKY I CANNOT YET SEE THROUGH THE FOG
5. Yuffie's main conflict arc: Yuffie -vs- Society.
Summary of conflict: Again, like the Lu arc, Yuffie has serious career/political goals but everything is shit.
Sexism is part of the problem. Youth is another part of the problem. Larger political issues beyond her control is a huge part of her problem. In a sense, I have all of the puzzle pieces but for some reason the outline for her arc isn't coming together with a PUNCH. And I don't know why. Maybe I'm just too tired and worn out when I work on it, thus I lack the braincells needed. And maybe I just haven't identified the secret sauce that will make it work. TBD.
6. The Vincent x Yuffie story during the FIRST half of Monsters
Given the staggering pile of shitty-first-draft I have you would think that I have worked this all out. And, given the epic outline I have complete with major plot points, you would think I have this thing nailed down.
....But this is so hard to write. Matters regarding Yuffie's youth create a mine field and Monsters needs both of them (and their unexamined relationship mess) to remain sympathetic even when their behavior -- both of them -- are immature/ridiculous/trainwrecky. There are so many things that I have tweaked or changed or completely overhauled and ... yep. Writing is hard.
As for the specifics... that needs to wait until tomorrow because this is long and I need sleep.