1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Amnesia/false memories as a plot device

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rumwriter, Aug 19, 2012.

    Hey, do you find that having false memories or no memories to be an overdone or cliche plot device? I know that some of you will say that "it's more important how you do it, than what you do" or something along those lines, but I want to avoid anything that has been run into the ground.
     
  2. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    It depends on what genre you plan to write in. Also, people react differently to amnesia. Some last years with never remembering, while others only take hours or days. Can you provide any more about how you want to use it?
     
  3. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    I recently scrapped my MC's motivation which sets him out on his quest. I was thinking last night, and I thought searching for his past might be cool. I thought about how I could work it really well into the story, but upon mentioning it to my friend, she said "Oh! Like Total Recall!" and I got bummed.

    But, maybe the reason I'm bummed is because I wasn't that happy with the idea to begin with. blaaarg.
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Rum, it boils down to your skill as a writer. Bob Ludlum (otherwise known as Robert Ludlum...look up the Bourne series on wikipedia) made a best setting series based off Jason Bourne, an assassin who can't remember who he is. It's doable, just depends on your skills to tell it, and write it.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm less likely to roll my eyes at lost early-childhood memories than at adult amnesia or traumatic memory loss. It's perfectly normal for early childhood memories to be very patchy.

    If your plot requires losing later memories, that of course doesn't help you any. But in general, the more sense the amnesia makes, and the less that it _looks_ like it was created for the purposes of the plot, the more tolerant I'd be.
     
  6. HayleyEditor
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    HayleyEditor New Member

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    I agree with Chicken Freak. There's a big difference between a plot that's centred around memory loss and a book about something else where memory loss is an easy out. If you really are just using it as a plot devise I would advise extreme caution!
     
  7. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    As long as you are not writing for a JRPG :D

    It's how you write it though, remember that.
     
  8. Zuther
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    Zuther Member

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    I find the story of the protagonist having amnesia interesting.

    One book I read,The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, revolves around a boy who one day woke up in a school bus and can't even remember a thing about his life.

    Amnesia as a plot device is a great idea for me. It enables the readers to unravel the mystery with the protagonist.
     
  9. Vworp
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    Vworp Member

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    This is actually something I'm including in the novel I'm writing. Since the thing my MC "forgets" is pretty dramatic, I thought it was best to foreshadow this amnesia with smaller examples, so as to get the reader used to the idea that this guy not only forgets things, but needs to forget things.

    I think stuff like this is bad if it leaps out as incongruous. If you can make it "suit" the character, so that it makes sense and adds to the story's "world" rather than changes it, you've got a better chance of making it work.
     
  10. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It sounds to me as if your character has some sort of traumatic amnesia. I can accept that sometimes people do repress particularly horrible memories. But if you're suggesting that his problem goes further, as in he keeps adding more things to his list of forgotten things as they relate to a single event, I think you're going to be on shaky ground. In essence you're talking about some sort of ongoing psychosis, not just amnesia, and I would expect there to be other psychological problems he'd be experiencing, or others would be noticing in him.

    However for general amnesia done well, I'd recommend Soldier in the Mist, which is about an ancient Greek soldier who can't remember anything for more than a few days.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  11. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Has Amnesia been done before? Yeap but who cares? They haven't been written with your take or view on it. To be fair what hasn't been written somewhere else before and repeated countless times?
     
  12. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    Total amnesia in a character is something that frustrates me. When the characters themselves have no solid perception of self, it's hard to see them as anything but robots. They start off as more or less a blank slate, and I'm definitely more of a fan of having their character established within themselves from the onset.
     
  13. InkDreamer
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    InkDreamer Member

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    Hi Fivvle.. A character with amnesia surely has a perception of 'self', just that they don't have a memory of it. I disagree with your point that they are like robots, because amnesia kills memories, not feelings. Instead, with their memories wiped out, they are under increased trauma and confusion, and can be more exciting as a character.
     
  14. InkDreamer
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    InkDreamer Member

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    If I am reading a book about an amnesiac, there is a higher chance of me putting it down mid-way if you don't give me enough reasons as to why you made them so. There must be enough questions to keep me hooked and timely revelations to sustain my curiosity. Plus I must WANT to know about the character's history. The trick lies in surprising the reader enough for them to excuse the cliche.
     
  15. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I have kicked this around a bit. In one story I drop a character with amnesia into a village. The character is interested in investigating the village while the villagers are interested in investigating where character came from.
     

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