1. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    Backward Society

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by lixAxil, Sep 1, 2012.

    Well this will be my first post, and I'll post my idea for a short or long novel.
    The title, well is not the title of this, but it fits it a bit

    Anyway, here is my idea

    About a society where thing works backwards, crime is legal and even fomented by the government, inside the city we got three kind of people, criminal, neutrals (That doesn't commit crime, but neither try to stop them) and gangs. Gangs are people that fight against criminals, but due to that they're ilegal and are pursued by police and government. Now between that people some have a curious ability to read others aura in colors. Due to this some are able to notice if someone is a criminal or not due to his/her color of aura, also if someone where to run the aura will get intensified on the legs as a signal, same thing to someone that's about to pull a gun or somthing like that, his/her aura will get intensified on the hands and arms, mainly the part of the body about to move. Now people with aura reading are very few and there are in gangs, criminals, neutrals and government. About the plot is more detailed, that's a resume of how the place works

    Discuss
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What's to discuss? If this is your story idea, decide for yourself what the consequence would be, and write it. That's what a WRITER does. Pundits discuss endlessly, and if they write anything, they write a fuzzy summary of their perception of the various discussions, and pretend it's something they actually came up with.

    The writer is a solitary animal. He or she grabs an idea like a pit bull grabs a hunk of meat, then thoroughly masticates it to discover all its flavors and textures. Hopefully, the writer's end product of that process smells considerably better than the pit bull's steaming product. But the writer creates a finished package that he or she then presents to the reader, and attempts to convey the same taste experience for the reader.

    If the readers begin discussing the conclusions you arrived at from your premise, even if they completely disagree with them, fantastic! You have made your readers think, and that is no mean feat.

    Develop your idea, and write it, and polish it. Don't talk it out, write it out.
     
  3. J. Blake
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    J. Blake Member

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    ^^ Seconded. You don't need permission from anyone to write your story.

    To ease whatever insecurity you may have about your idea, I'll just tell you now (so that you can just write it) is that Your idea is definitely an interesting one. I'm curious though: What exactly does a government gain from endorsing crime? Are they getting a cut of the profits? Are they using the criminals are sort of like their own army, confining the majority of the populance to their totalitarian agenda? How do these aura people come into play?
     
  4. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like the writing of Robert Sheckley, and this is the kind of idea that IMHO he would have done very well.

    I'm not a writer so can't give good advice, but what I like about Sheckley's stories when he's writing well (IMHO he was inconsistent), is that he has these really striking ideas, but fleshes them out with good writing and language, wit, good characters and plot.

    It's not like your idea, but I wonder if you'd be interested in reading Sheckley's story "Skulking Permit". It's about a colony on a planet which has become very "rural" while Earth when for various reasons Earth's empire of planets falls to pieces. Then they hear from Earth again which appears to have become a fascist dictatorship. And the community busies itself to appear more earthlike by painting the schoolhouse red, and appointing the main character as an official criminal as it appears that all earth colonies should have one. Some of the humour is in the development of the consequences of the idea, e.g. when the main character finally manages to steal some tools, the owner of the tools comes and asks if he can borrow them back again, producing a conversation about things that have been "officially stolen" and the like.

    This story, IMHO, has the central wacky idea, but it has interesting characters, and good progression of the story. I have seen stories which have a good idea, but seem to assume that is enough and don't develop the rest of the story. It's not your idea, very different, but I wonder if you'd benefit from reading (or listening to) this story and thinking about how the central idea is developed.

    But then again, what do I know? :D
     
  5. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    Well, well, I'm giving the basic idea, of course I need to polish all these details.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that you'd have to define crime, since it's usually defined as activity forbidden by the government.

    Edited to add: and who's allowed to commit what we'd call crimes? If a powerless person managed to mug and rob a high government official, would the official present him with an award when he got out of the hospital? Or is this a sort of Robin Hood situation where crime and not-crime are defined by status?
     
  7. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    I think it's a good idea but I want to ask, what is the point of making a backwards society?

    Is it to dwell on the fact that the good is always so outcasted and alone? Is doing good stigmatized?

    Or are you trying to show how the bad is so accepted and common?

    I think I would be able to help you more if I had an idea as to why you are writing a novel like this. What is the message you are trying to convey?
     
  8. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not the OP, but I think that turning society on its head is a good way of examining it. By taking things to extremes or inverting them, it helps us understand more about the reality we live in. E.g. Cormac McCarthy's "The Road".

    Or, I could just be a pretentious fool :)
     
  9. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    Now, now guys calm down.

    The point of making a backward society, is precisely to question, if all that is considered "bad" for the society, can be precisely labeled like that, And also how can those called "good" be twisted when is forcibly put into the "bad side"
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think everybody's perfectly calm. You did ask for discussion, yes?

    If crime is defined as theft, violence, etc., and the government encourages these things, there is presumably some reason for doing so. If crime is defined as doing illegal things, then it's essentially impossible for the government to encourage crime and punish non-crime, because then non-crime would become a crime-it's governments that define illegal things.
     
  11. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    The OP's meaning seems quite clear to me. S/he means that the government permits crime as defined in our societies and forbids legal activity as defined in our societies.

    That would make it in the fictional society not "crime". But Asuna's meaning seems quite clear to me.

    Unless I've got it all wrong that is :)
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not all that new a concept. Different writers will take it different ways, from Star Trek's Mirror, Mirror and A Piece of the Action to the Bizarro World of the Superman magazines.

    More precisely, that's your point in writing the story.

    Now you should go forth and write it. Discussing it is a form of procrastination, or of seeking approval. Neither will make you a better writer.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which would fit my second thought - theft , violence, etc. would be encouraged. So would that government official give a medal to the good citizen who so successfully mugged him, and maybe beat up his kids, and burned down his house? And schools would teach children to shoplift? I'm not being sarcastic here - is that the premise? Or is it more of a nobles-and -peasants thing, where crime is fine from some people while others are designated as the victims, and there are Robin Hood style gangs illegally fighting the criminals?

    If we took this far enough, society would have to be redrawn - for example, if it's frowned on or even illegal to pay rather than steal, there would be no merchants, no reason to manufacture, in fact no function for money. No banks. No reason for property or deeds. And that's just on the "theft" part of crime; encouraging the other crimes would rewrite society in other ways. For example, children wouldn't be learning to shoplift in school because there would probably be no schools.

    I'm saying, I suppose, that you can't have a society where just one thing is turned around. In a very short surreal story you might have a government that encourages the activities that undermine government, but if you go into any length, I think the premise collapses from internal inconsistencies, or requires a societal rewrite from top to bottom. Robin Hood, Daybreak (a movie where vampires run the government), the recent Batman movies, A Piece of the Action as Cogito said, all have a partial rewrite of society and government, and they also all retain some forms of traditional law and order.
     
  14. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    In fiction you can have whatever you want, not limited by laws of physical, societal, psychological, etc., reality. Kurt Vonnegut can transport his father to the surface of the sun where the heat does not burn his feet. The problem is not realism, but making it work as a story. There are bizarre societies that probably wouldn't work in reality, with Catch-22 being an example. Gormenghast perhaps another. Much of the Discworld society isn't realistic (in addition to having a flat world on top of four elephants standing on a gigantic turtle flying through space. Zombie fiction is again impossible, but can be done well. There are no superheroes fighting supervillians in our reality.

    You say that if it were illegal to pay rather than steal, there would be no merchants, no reason to manufacture, etc. But that would be the case if nobody was prepared to pay rather than steal. There is a lot of criminality in our societies. And perhaps in the "backward society" of this thread, systems such as banking, manufacturing, etc. would go underground, but still exist.

    Anyone who wanted to could write a fictional novel where despite paying for things being illegal, many or at least sufficient people would want to pay for them, and illegal manufacturing would then supply this need. The question is whether someone could write a good fictional novel based on this societal setting. I think it's plausible that a sufficiently imaginative author could.

    In summary, there's a big difference between the question of whether such a society would work in reality, and whether or not good fiction based on such a society can be written.
     
  15. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    Hah, I'm starting to like this place, the diversity in opinions is good.

    @Cogito: Oh, but discuss has its good points too. Is not seeking of approval, not something I need at all, more likely opinions and ideas of how develop it.
    @DefinitelyMaybe: That's some way to put it, also use Asune, not Asuna hahahaha.
    @ChickenFreak: As I'm recently developing it really (Well I had the idea since some time, but I'm starting on it), I still had some troubles figuring a logic behind the benefits of a backward society, well I have some sketch on my mind, but there is always some holes, reason why I'm here collecting opinions an ideas.

    EDIT: Also when I use "discuss", "calm down", etc. Don't take it too seriously, is my way to talk
     
  16. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Asune (apologies for the misspelling), I'm not an experienced writer. But I have a plot for a short story from your "Backward Society" stuck in my head. It would be 24 hours (or thereabouts) in the life of a village policeman in your society, and be in a similar style to a Sheckley short story.

    I think I'm going to write this for my own benefit. But as the Backward Society was your idea, I wouldn't feel right ever showing it to someone without your permission.

    If I write the story, could I post it here, please?
     
  17. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    1) Don't worry too much, is just that there is this character for a manga called Asuna, well I dislike that manga a lot.
    2) Dunno, I', very selfish regarding lending my ideas to other. Yet also this isn't kinda "the marvelous idea!!!"
    3) I'll let you write it to yourself for your own amusement though. Then show it to me xD.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I decided that as this is gonna be my first writing project, I'll start with a not very long story. So this will be probably a short novel if I made it succesful.
    Oh as my first language is spanish, I'll wrote it on spanish, yet I'll translate certain paragraphs to show you all and get your revisions, if you're ok with it
     

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