1. HallowMan97
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    HallowMan97 Member

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    A Quandary in Hyper-Reality

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by HallowMan97, Jun 5, 2016.

    Hi there!

    I have been writing a novel for the past five years, constantly rewriting it the second it was finished because:

    1) My writing skill had improved since the last draft and I want it to be the best it could possibly be.
    2) I always get a cool idea to include.
    3) I phase out things that don't contribute to the overall plot.

    I'm currently on draft five. The third reason is why I am here because I need advice from a community of writers on making one of the biggest changes to my story. To give you context--

    My novel takes place within an alternate version of Earth, with the protagonist's country and culture based on Medieval Ireland. The MC in question is a paranoid schizophrenic, suffering from debilitating hallucinations and feelings of paranoia and grandiose destiny. The idea is that the typical fantasy tropes of "Boy getting powers" or "Boy becomes chosen hero" are turned on their head, as the protagonist is really a crazy kid whose delusions convince others he is chosen by a god--A prophet!--and the fantastical occurrences are a product of his own imagination rather than it literally being a world where prophets and gods are literal. It's very much left up to interpretation.

    Except...

    I had mentioned "others" who are convinced the MC is a prophet. These individuals actually do have special abilities, which they attribute to the divine. Depending on what culture they are from, the story is different but they all place their powers in faith. Even when said it could be the result of "moldy bread" as an actual divine being, the MC's grandiose attitude jumps the gun on this and he embraces his "destiny" to the fullest, with the powers adding to his claim, though the true cause of them are left to interpretation.

    So my question today for you: Am I betraying what I was going for with the protagonist's schizophrenia being the source of fantasy by including actual, albeit ambiguous, powers? I've been writing this novel for a long time and I want it to be the most mind-blowing it could possibly be.

    But I could use a little help on this question, because I seriously can't decide.
     
  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    You could have the whole thing collapse on them in the end, when the others decided that the MCs delusions of divinity are just that: delusions. Insanity coupled with a falling of faith into a deceit of literal interpretation can lead to a decay into a cult like following, that will wane as their whole charade steadily erodes. Though this whole thing you have been working on must be tedious as hell considering what you have provided, and must have been just as tumultuous to write considering the themes you have gone with. On the other hand, the musings of a mad man can be quite amusing. It just all depends on how you go about it. Perhaps his fanaticism into being a divine prophet sets him to see things wildly different from those around him, and thus it would be entertaining to watch the maddening interactions between the MC and the rest of the society.

    Well good luck with what you have been forging, and hope you figure it all out. :supersmile:
     
  3. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, first off, why are you mentioning fantasy at all. I like to think that maybe the prophets of old WERE delusional. I think you should stop thinking "typical fantasy" tropes, and start looking at biblical events like the parting of the red sea.

    That's number one. About some of his followers potentially having powers- there's a million interesting directions you could take this. On the face of it, the reader is led to believe that all mythos is man made, but, if you want, these "strange occurrences" can be used to insinuate to the clever reader that maybe there are larger forces at work in history, forces that man, blinded by his own ego, is never able to see. You can get as literal and or as metaphorical as you wish here.

    No matter what you do, I would suggest keeping the "supernatural" elements as vague and ambiguous as possible- this only adds to the complexity of your story. That you thought of doing this at all suggests you should keep it, though.

    All in all, great ideas, and good luck!
     
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  4. HallowMan97
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    HallowMan97 Member

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    Cave troll: Definitely tedious but I'm getting there!

    123456789: Yeah, that's what I mean. They do have their own version of the Bible, and the main idea is that the MC thinks he's following in the footsteps of the old prophets. I use the term fantasy as that's the genre. But I assure you we're on the same page. Not to spoil anything, but I think the ending is rather good when it comes to the possibility of unseen forces at work, but it is definitely open to interpretation.

    My main concern is if the existence of these powers, regardless if their origin is a mystery, breaks that subtlety.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
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  5. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    If magical powers exist in your world, the reader is going to feel cheated when you reveal your protagonist's powers were all in his head.

    I find it hard to accept that a group of people with actual magical powers would ever believe your protagonist possessed magical powers if he could not demonstrate them.

    Perhaps your protagonist instead has the same magical powers other people are known to possess, but in addition he claims that he is guided by some god only he can see and hear. And it could later be revealed (and more or less proven) that this god/being/person he kept conversing with was a hallucination. Perhaps contrived by one of the fanatics to advance his or her campaign for more power.
     
  6. HallowMan97
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    Oh, I apologize for not being clear.

    He does possess these powers. The reason these people elevate him to prophetic status is because of his hallucinations, and the MC actually having powers that already have religious significance (in their culture) seals the deal for him.

    Also, there is no reveal that his "destiny" is nothing more than delusion, only implied. Like I said, I wanted it to be left up to interpretation. Same with the powers. They believe it to be divine, but there is as much chance it came from an odd scientific phenomenon, and it is left at that. This is in part because I don't want to alienate certain readers who have differing views on the idea of faith (my first draft, everything was literal, right down to the god they worshiped), and also because I don't want to go full on midi-chlorion.

    Once more, my main concern is if the inclusion of these powers breaks the subtlety of the insanity theme.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  7. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    From what i can tell, the struggle you're having is choosing between the two.

    1. Writing a story about a persons misinterpretation of reality, whose mind replaces events with its own creations.

    2. Writing a story about a person who is misinterpreting the cause of events that actually happened in reality.

    Either choose one, the other, or try and do both :)
     
  8. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    Not inherently.

    Only in your execution.
     
  9. HallowMan97
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    HallowMan97 Member

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    I suppose. I just don't want readers saying, "He should have left out powers altogether if he wanted to go the insanity route" and then someone else coming along and doing it and everyone loves them for it.

    Insecurities, right?
     
  10. HallowMan97
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    I am doing the second one. The choice is if the inclusion of powers is necessary to achieve the same effect. I suppose it could go either way but I also want to see if there is a better choice between them.
     
  11. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    It is just insecurities. Totally understand.

    There will always be someone who will say you should have done this or that. At the same time, there will always be someone who totally loves it just the way you wrote it.

    There will also always be someone who thinks you should have done it a different way, but loves it anyway.
     
  12. HallowMan97
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    Good point. Just don't want anyone thinking I could've done it better. If no one sees much of anything wrong with it, I'll keep in the powers for now. Maybe when I get enough posts on here to be able to share my work we'll see if any changes are necessary.
     

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