1. Neo
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    Away from civilization for at least six weeks?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Neo, Jan 17, 2010.

    My MC has somehow managed to conveniently miss an apocalyptic virus wiping out millions of people around the world, and the subsequent mass evacuations to save the survivors - so much so his own wife is evacuated and he only finds out when he goes home to find a scribbled note.
    The timescale is at least six weeks.

    Any ideas on how this could happen? I've ruled out a coma already. Now I'm thinking maybe he's been on a fishing ship in the north Atlantic or North Sea (he's based in North East England). He's a writer (writing his first novel, how very postmodern of me ;) ) so I think maybe he's tagged along on some ship in the middle of nowhere to write it. Is this even remotely plausable?
     
  2. m5roberts
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    m5roberts Member

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    This line made my day.

    And I'd say sure, why not? Maybe he's researching how life aboard a ship works, or wants to see new, strange places to help him with setting.
     
  3. Neo
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    Good idea!

    To be honest it doesn't need to be particularly detailed - all I really need is a single line where the reader goes, "oh, right, that makes sense." His absence is merely a plot device so he survives.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    he could be anywhere that has no tv/phones/radio/internet connection and no other people coming in from the 'outside'...

    a fishing boat wouldn't work, unless all its communications are down... and i doubt any modern one would stay out for that long with absolutely no contact to shore...

    you're better off having him in a cabin/tent out in the wilds somewhere, having brought no way to communicate with the outside world, to save himself the distraction, so he could write undisturbed...
     
  5. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    He is the first man to live in the deep water base New Atlantis. He receives no supplies for six weeks and wonders WTF? When he takes the sub to the surface, he soon finds out
     
  6. InkDream
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    Alaskan fisherman are gone for around three months at a time. Or maybe he was visiting someplace unaffected and was unable to get home for six weeks?
     
  7. fandango
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    Completely agree. A fishing boat would be listening to weather forecasts etc. through a radio. So news would reach them. There are very few places in the world where there is absolutely no contact with anyone either face to face or through electronic mediums, let alone in the UK. It would need to be a conscious decision of the MC to have no contact with the wider world (i.e. not to have a mobile or radio). My suggestion would be "walkabout" in the australia wilderness as part of research for his latest book. But this would cause problems for him getting home to the NE. How about a visit to a deserted Scottish island and with his lift home not coming to get him, after a few weeks he has to find his own way back.
     
  8. Operaghost
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    An oilrig or off shore ship that has lost communication with the outside world for some reason, the characters will not know the initial cause, or how about the big brother house (or something similar) imagine how the self obsessed fame junkies would act if it reached eviction night and they realised that actually no one was watching them. Seriously though you mentioned he’s a writer, maybe whilst writing his novel he has simply decided to lose touch with the modern world completely so there are no distractions and has locked himself up in a cottage somewhere on one of the remote Scottish islands to finish his masterpiece
     
  9. Neo
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    I think the writer's retreat idea is most fitting!
     
  10. Cogito
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    I agree that some sort of personal retreat makes the most sense. If an oil rig's communication failed, there would be ships and helicopters converging there within hours. Any sort of fishing vessel would also have constant communications with the shore as well, although their silence might take a couple days before a search were launched.

    But a self-imposed isolation works not only for a writer, but many other professions as well. Maybe he goes to a cabin in the woods with a generator but no internet, or maybe he goes on walkabout in the Outback to break himself out of a rut. Perhaps he's spending two months in the rainforest to research for a book; he has emergency com gear, but wonj't use it unless he has to, and never felt the need to do so.
     
  11. Varlen
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    Varlen New Member

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    Six weeks without contact is a long time. I'd say too much a long time - especially if he's based in the UK. I doubt there's a place you can go to - and survive - without atleast encountering some level of human interaction, or some sign of the virus. If he was abandoned on some remote island, then how and why would he know to sail and navigate without modern equipment? He could be in some cave-complex. But then, it'd still be inside the UK. It's pretty crowded, surely, he would have seen some signs of this virus? And how come he doesn't catch it?

    I think you may have to compromise a little, and place him somewhere a little more remote than in/around northern Europe, it's too densely populated for it to be entirely viable, IMO. He would be able to see something was wrong, some evidence of this mass evacuation, or burning from riots or stumble across some fleeing civilians, or some other crazy occurrence. Cogito's rain-forest idea sounds quite plausible. He could always have relocated with his wife to help with his studies/research/third thing.

    This is quite the brain teaser, I look forward to seeing the result =3
     
  12. Gannon
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    You could still use the oil setting, though agreed if comms when down on a rig there'd be a helicopter there to survey pretty soon after. Nevertheless, think earlier in the process, think geographical survey of extreme remote terrain - six weeks would be nothing then. Interior of Australia, Sahara, Amazon, Antartic - a small research group of many a nature could be out in these places with little need (or ability in some cases) to contact the outside world.
     
  13. Neo
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    I'm having him lock himself away in the middle of Galloway - pretty much the remotest place in the country, and in the North East! - up a mountain in his own, private, well-stocked cabin, where he has managed to choose just the right time of the year to get snowed in (not difficult up a mountain in the remote north of England!). The virus will already have been doing the rounds, but not as an obviously apocalyptic threat, before he went. People ignored it after the swine flu non-event and so millions perished faster than they would have ordinarily.
    The story begins with him gladly eating the last of his self-imposed rations as the snow finally melts to allow him freedom - only to find the rest of civilization empty, with dead bodies and signs of chaos all around him.
    Sound good?
     
  14. fandango
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    That sounds like it would work. I'd also consider some of the practicalities that forces him to remain out of contact e.g. loss of power to the house (cause by the snow?) which means he can't get TV or recharge his mobile phone.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    if he's gone there to be away from civilization for a while, he won't have any power, tv or cell phone!

    people do this all the time, in all parts of the world... and writers do it more often than most others, probably...
     
  16. bluebell80
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    There is also the possibility of doing research with a group of say scientists at an ice core dig in the north atlantic (greenland, or northern most Siberia or Canada) would be plausible, if the communications went down and their ride didn't show up, forcing them to take the emergency crafts home...a couple of weeks spent waiting and a couple of weeks making their way home is possible. It would take even more time if they were at a research facility in Antarctica.

    I don't know how long of a time period it took for the virus to spread and kill people, like a rapid outbreak of ebola type of virus, or zombies. It could be such a rapid thing, that the communications aren't necessarily down at the site, but could be that the com-links at the home base are no longer operational due to the rapid advancement of the plague. And the researchers and writer have no idea what is going on. It is plausible, however how you write it will decide how possible it will be in the suspension of belief within the readers. I think a few lines, maybe a paragraph should be able to sum it up for the reader in a plausible suspension of belief way.
     
  17. writewizard
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    I remember reading this post earlier, sorry for not responding. I think that a good case of fuge would be the best way to handle this. Individuals with fuge can go on and lead an entirely differnet life, forgetting their past life, much like a case of amnesia. I did some quick researching and learned that in the past 30 years, over one million individuals have been diagnosed with fuge, so it's totally believable.

    Edit: Reading this made me think of wild children; how they're rased away from civilization by animals and such. Not really related, but, hey... It's an interesting thought process.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    (Psst - fugue :))
     
  19. Necrid
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    You could make him a troubled Muslim trying to get back in touch with his faith, so he goes somewhere (a cave maybe?) for 6 weeks.
     
  20. NaCl
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    Why have him go away for a 6-week absence? Perhaps he is just going to the family's remote cabin for one last week of solitude before winter snows cover it. While there, he collects some wild berries and mushrooms to add to his salad, something the family does regularly. In his collection of mushrooms, he mistakenly adds a small "Death Cap", that due to its early stage of growth, looked like an edible variety. Death Cap produces flu-like symptoms for a few days, then appears to get better. After a short "healthy" period, the victim's liver shuts down and death can follow. At the very least, he would be seriously ill, unable to travel for a week or more while his body fights the toxin.

    Recovery from such an illness could take a while, during which time, the first winter snowstorm could cover the cabin, and the roads. He's trapped. He brought no communications...didn't think he would need them. The cabin has canned food supplies and a fireplace so he is able to survive for...yep, six weeks...until an early winter warm spell melts away enough snow for him to escape the mountains. You could write his reactions to no traffic and absence of people at a gas station next to the freeway...things like that...as precursors to discovering his missing family.

    In this kind of scenario, you don't need to show him going away to some exotic place for an extended visit. It would be far more plausible for him to take a brief trip, such as to his remote family cabin, without communications. And an injury, illness or snow storm can extend his trip...or a combination thereof. Might even be used as a great character building tool as you show how tough and smart he is in surviving. Also, this format keeps him close to home so you don't have to resolve the dilemma of getting him from the Outback or an Amazon rain forest back to his suburban American (or UK or Canadian, etc) home. In such a disaster, airlines would not exist.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd stay away from the mushrooms. If someone is severely enough poisoned to be ill that long from them, survival without medical intervention is pretty unlikely and will be accompanied by a lengthy recuperation and long term health problems.

    If you have any kind of long term medical or other emergency to explain a six week absence, you'll need to explain why they have no contact with the outside world. Anyone these days planning more than a couple days away from civilization will probably at least have communications gear capable of calling for assistance. Yes, there are people who get lost and have no comm gear with them, but they are generally ill-prepared people planning to be back the same or next day, and they rarely survive for more than a few days away from civilization.

    So I'd probably set it up so the person HAS the comm gear, but is motivated not to use it. To me, that suggests a volunary sabbatical or retreat with no emergencies or mishaps.
     

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