1. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can my character's father have realistically pulled this off...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Hubardo, Aug 1, 2015.

    This has been a WIP idea for a while and the more I think about it the more I think it's ridiculous, although it's a cool idea maybe.

    The MC is the leader of an ecoterrorist group in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. But, she actually works for the government. She doesn't engage in the activities but she does speaking tours, has written books, and manages a mailing list and basically uses seduction and her intellect to convince young men to use violence as a way to entrap them. Her father is from Dallas, Texas and their family comes from a long line of military intelligence. The idea thus far has been that he made sure she grew up in the Pacific Northwest so that from a young age she could build a believable profile within the liberal/leftist political culture. In other words, she was planted there as a military / national security project. I have imagined that the only way it would be possible to morally and politically craft her to do exactly as the father had planned would be to make sure he has an extremely good relationship with her while carefully controlling how she thinks about people in this culture. Home school is one option for this, but it might make it so she doesn't have the social skills to lead a political group and have such a successful public identity. The other is simply that he makes sure to explain to her from a very young age that most people around here are very mislead, that we need strong rulers to lead the sheep etc. He could also make sure, since the point is to get her on the inside of leftist grassroots culture by the time she's in her 20s, to let her know that although these people are misled that the best way to help them is by pretending to be one of them. I had in mind lots of theater training for this.

    Okay here's the question. Can this be made believable? Teens rebel. They want to steer the opposite direction from their parents' politics. They don't want to follow the exact course in life that their parents want them to. I imagine that at some point, this girl would begin to resent her dad because he's the only one in her life who believes things that everybody else around her thinks are crazy. How could very conservative and even bigoted politics be maintained for 20 years of someone's life when everybody else disagrees with you? Even more difficult, how could somebody hide their true thoughts and values from everyone? And the most difficult, could this girl become a young woman who is 100% loyal to this cause?

    Although it seems unlikely, we hear stories about extreme outliers all the time. Their stories are always very unique. What I think would make this work is that the father, and her upbringing in general, would have to be extremely controlled in a way that makes her seem like she needs to believe she is coming to conclusions about the world on her own. I'm reading Ender's Game right now and it gave me some ideas on how that could be done (no spoilers!). But... I wanna see what you think. thanks!!
     
  2. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Well depends on what type of parents she has. Are they willing to let her decide her own fate? Are they overprotective? Are they strict?

    In our world I've seen parents even stranger than that though, so if you're worried about it being believable I don't believe that will be too much of the issue here.

    I believe the bigger issue with this is if the character's reactions to the daughter will be believable.
     
  3. tasjess
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    tasjess Active Member

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    Plenty of homeschooled people have well developed social skills and are used to working with a variety of people of various ages, cultures and socio-economc backgrounds. Being homeschooled can give the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of people rather than spend most days with a handful of peers. Some very charasmatic leaders were homeschooled e.g Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur, Franklin Roosevelt.

    As for staying focused on her father's agenda, if she adopted the agenda as her own I don't see a problem with this. The movie SALT and the character Black Widow are examples of the female double agent indoctrinated at a young age.
     
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  4. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    No it's definitely ridiculous and completely unethical.

    Questions include:
    Why would anyone devote 20 years of child rearing just to build cred when hacking is a thing?
    Why would the government ever endorse such a program?
    How could they ensure that a walking ethics violation experiment wouldn't tell anyone what had happened to her?
    What is the point of propping up a fake eco-terrorist that might inspire actual works of terrorism?
    Could any of the suspects for said terrorism ever be tried, considering that they were encouraged by a representative of the government?
     
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  5. tasjess
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    tasjess Active Member

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    Questions include:
    Why would anyone devote 20 years of child rearing just to build cred when hacking is a thing? People do all sorts of crazy things with their kids


    Why would the government ever endorse such a program? Because government. Seriously, once upon a time my government took bi-racial children from their families to assimilate them into white society as domestic help and laborers for their own good. For realsies. The there's experimenting on GIs with drugs in Vietnam as well as the whole Agent Orange thing. And that's just stuff my government has OPENLY ADMITTED TO Governments are stupid sometimes. The idea of fiction is to explore these ideas.

    How could they ensure that a walking ethics violation experiment wouldn't tell anyone what had happened to her? See above, they can't, it hasn't stopped them before.

    What is the point of propping up a fake eco-terrorist that might inspire actual works of terrorism? And what's the point of deliberately destabilising a stable communist government by arming Islamic extremists and sending Afghanistan into a spiral of destruction?

    Could any of the suspects for said terrorism ever be tried, considering that they were encouraged by a representative of the government? It's only entrapment if you're caught.

    I get the feeling political thriller is not your chosen genre?

    Most stories are ridiculous if examined closely, but so is reality. Moreso in some cases
     
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  6. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    1.) Are you saying that raising a kid with the sole objective of turning them into a secret agent is easier then faking a dossier?
    2.) Or that engaging in a 20 year quest to morph the ideology of a child is achievable?

    Sorry, no. Governments have goals. They might stupid, but there is no one in a government agency saying, "Lets experiment on children for shits and giggles". The examples you give were outed by the people who worked on them because they were unethical. Do you really think they can keep up a 20 year experiment on a child? And for what results?

    No, see it has stopped them. All of those programs were discontinued because (as stated) being in the government does not mean that you have no conscious.
    Again, governments have goals. In that case the goal was to prevent the spread of communism and derail the military project of a country that could have started a war of annihilation.

    But in this case it makes far far less sense. The girl is going to inspire acts of terrorism, and the government just hopes that it will be able to track all of them? We can't even keep terrorist on twitter from inciting violence.

    That's not entrapment. And if it was a sting operation, the only way to try a suspect is for the sting to be revealed as such. Due process and right to confront an accuser don't go away.

    No, poorly reasoned motivations are not my genre. This is like a toddler after a night of watching horror movies and drinking kool-aid. It doesn't hold water.
     
  7. tasjess
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    tasjess Active Member

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    I guess what I am saying is that in this weird world crazy things have happened, governments have not always been ethical, parents have raise children with a hidden agenda and "master plan" (fundamentalist religious people do this a lot).

    The OP's concept still needs fleshing out and tweaking, but there are similar concepts that have worked as stories. Yes, there would need to be a motive for the government to be investing in this idea - a grand plan so to speak. There would need to be a grand ends to justify the means. Rather than entrapping random young men, infiltrating a network or taking down powerful figures. Some of the logic would need tweaking i.e. perhaps the father needs to be semi-rogue, raising his daughter with an agenda then handing her over to be used as a game piece by his department. But father raises daughter to masquerade as figure in subculture with an opposing ideology in order to take it down. Well, I have heard worse concepts.

    The examples I gave were stopped and made public only after the people victimised by these schemes fought hard to stop them and/or they reached their natural conclusions. I have no doubt the majority of the people running these schemes were honestly thinking they were doing the right thing. But isn't every villain a hero in his own eyes?

    "This is like a toddler after a night of watching horror movies and drinking kool-aid. It doesn't hold water."
    As a mother of toddlers I found this analogy strangely moving , mesmerising, and horrifying. Your writing has true impact sir ;)
     
  8. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alrighty, here is a bit of non-fiction background to help answer some of the questions indirectly. The idea of the story was to add a twist to some actual things that have happened and are currently going on.

    There was a guy named Eric McDavid who spent 10 years in prison for stuff he did with Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Bomby, arsony stuff. An FBI informant named "Anna" got close to him and other guys in this group, so far as to have become sexually and romantically involved with at least one of them. I think Eric was one of them. Some blurbs from Wiki on Anna:

    "Anna" had been working with the FBI to infiltrate the group since 2004. She encouraged their activities and provided them with bomb-making information, money to buy the raw materials, transportation and a cabin to work in, and produced consensual audio and video recordings of their activities.[2] According to "Anna", McDavid threatened to kill her if she turned out to be working with law enforcement.[2][8]

    Defense attorney Mark Reichel argued that "Anna" acted as an agent provocateur: encouraging the group to focus on a target, paying for meeting arrangements and supplies, and urging the group to act when they wavered. Reichel stated at the trial, "the crisp $100 bills and a Dutch Flat cabin where the group lived in the days leading up to the trio's arrest—all supplied by "Anna" thanks to her FBI sponsors...That's the creation of a case...Without 'Anna,' you have nothing."[9]

    The idea of a woman MC in her 20s whose job is to seduce and influence young men to do this stuff came directly from this true story. There have been some reports out of the Pacific Northwest that "Anna" has continued trying to infiltrate other radical leftist groups. It occurred to me that if they wanted her on the inside in the most reliable way, she should actually be a central organizer. I thought, well why not get crazy with it. Make her the leader of the group. That way she can attract and control every individual and leak out every bit of info on them she wants. That would be much more effective. And -- wait for it -- it would make a really great story. Read "great" as entertaining, not 100% realistic or logical, if that helps?

    Then, there's Lierre Keith. Lierre Keith is a co-author of a real book called Deep Green Resistance (DGR). DGR is a manifesto more or less promoting the idea of a global underground insurgence of militantly organized environmentalists who target key energy infrastructure (ie power plants run by fossil fuels). If you want to read their entire section on Decisive Ecological Warfare, go here: http://deepgreenresistance.org/en/deep-green-resistance-strategy/decisive-ecological-warfare#four-phases

    At some point I was watching a video by Lierre Keith and I wondered, as she was openly talking about "dismantling civilization" (killing billions of people), whether she could actually be part of a larger organizational effort. Who would openly suggest such things and expect to get away with it? To dedicate your life to telling people to shut off the power grids so that people lack power to store food and cook, shutting down hospitals killing sick people and newborn infants, and so on. Who would let someone even get away with this? Their Facebook page has about 80,000 followers (https://www.facebook.com/deepgreenresistance). Lots and lots and lots of people are in support of this stuff. I was a little in the past, and sometimes it still seems like it's half reasonable when I think about how apocalyptic climate change etc projections are and so on. So I wondered... wouldn't the state like to be on the inside of that?

    Imagine if this lady were actually a CIA operative -- that was ultimately the central idea of my story:



    I don't expect anyone to watch the full hour but if you jump around and think of it from that cool twist of her being CIA, it's really interesting and exciting. I guess I wanted to try to set up a story that would make that work.

    And while I'm not a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, nobody can deny that state power and surveillance became a bajillion times more powerful after. And you follow the Project For New American Century and all those other Cheneys and it makes for really good conspiracy theory narrative. Much of the story could just be premised around conspiracy theory; a few people in charge wanted to see some insane carnage and to precipitate it to reach some larger goal (more state power; maybe selling something -- you can make these things up easily).
     
  9. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also (sorry I don't feel like doing the multi quote stuff I'm tired), remember that government isn't a singular entity. When you say "the government needs a good reason," you mean "whoever is making decisions in that section of government." But not everyone in government agrees. The traffic ticket person doesn't necessarily agree with Guantanamo guards doesn't necessarily agree with the city council member who just voted yes on a minimum wage hike doesn't necessarily agree with the covert ops team leader who just tortured some little Bolivian kid in the forest to get info to bring down a drug cartel. All of these people are "government." All it takes is a couple particularly crazy people in power to make enormously stupid mistakes, and let projects get out of hand. Okay sleep time
     
  10. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    I don't think it's ridiculous, goverments do all kinds of twisted crap, sometimes because they really believe they're doing a good thing, and sometimes just for their interest, and in your case, who cares, it's a novel, not reality, you should definitely go on with your story and write what you want :).
     
  11. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, it wouldn't be the only objective. When they had this girl, the CIA guy and his wife, they had every intention of having her be part of a family they could call their own. Thing is, their notion of family is around very strong values of loyalty and tradition tied within the state. Notice that the Bush family have all gone into politics. Bush Sr. was the head of the CIA. Don't you think he had wanted them to go into politics? Don't you think he was careful to make sure they believed the exact same things he did? This is not unheard of. And maybe these parents have always secretly wanted to bring down industrial civilization. Maybe they had been reading about climate change and environmental destruction or are hardcore Christian fundamentalists and are tying it all together, thinking they should help God punish/save humans or something. There are lots of pieces you can fill in here.

    Like I said with the Bush's above. You could probably look into other political families and see that there is a clear line with the exact same political philosophy. The Kennedys maybe? It's not far fetched.

    Well, the goal would be for national security at first. Now that I think of it, maybe they never intended her to lead a group calling for ecoterrorist acts; maybe they just wanted to get somebody on the inside of radical leftist politics. Or, maybe the dad made his daughter a bit of a secret project that wasn't approved by a bunch of bureacrats, and had hoped that by the time she was an adult he could make use of her. He convinced her since a young age that nothing would make him prouder than if she could do important work for the US government, because the US government is basically the coolest most important thing in the history of existence. Maybe once she decided she wanted to "get these ecoterrorist fuckers" she devised the plan to start a new group and gain a following, the dad thought it was ingenious and supported her, got permission from a couple buddies in gov't, and they began the project. Much of the story is supposed to be that things go wrong; they accidentally end up creating untrackable underground cells around the world which successfully knock out power plants and accidentally kill people (collateral damage), meanwhile storms and heatwaves are intensifying (somewhat in the future) so you have climate change and ecoterrorists basically creating similar acts of destruction both targeting industrial civilization. People become morally confused; which side am I on, what are we trying to save, etc.

    Hmm. Well you know about current surveillance stuff going on. That is a massive experiment violating pretty much everybody's privacy who owns a phone or a computer. It has a goal: protect people. But it has another implicit goal that some twisted people at the reigns are taking advantage of: exploit people. In the past, those experiments were to gather information about human beings to use to protect "the people" in the future. Same deal today. Wait 50 years and we'll find out about things the US is doing today that we'll all be shocked by. Read any declassified CIA covert ops book from the library (minus the pages and pages of blacked out or blank pages) and you'll see they've been doing horrendous things to people, whether experiments or savage attacks on bogeymen (communists, radicals, terrorists) in ways no sane american would ever agree with.

    And in this case the goal would be to control the most potentially violent and destructive ecoterrorists from the center of the organization. Just as many attempts to prevent communism did more harm than good, this project may turn out that way too.

    Yeah and I want to try to make it make sense somehow. That's the tricky part here.
     
  12. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Didn't read other comments, but one of two ways in my reflex. First, you could have the mother die and the bond becomes stronger and she naturally wants to follow in her dad's footsteps for the challenges he endured raising her. The other, my preference, is to have the father actually share the politics of the left because he is jaded with the system, and he shares with her where the truth lies, but tells her that violence and terrorism will only harm the cause.
     
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  13. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've considered that being part of a twist. The reader thinks the father (who leads this secret project / the daughter MC) wants to "get" the leftists, but his plan all along has been to build this global insurgence because of everything he has learned about climate change. Military people have been coming out more and more in recent years talking about climate change as a national security threat (more serious than terrorism, ironically), so I was even thinking that this could be an orchestrated effort by several people on the inside of government. The idea isn't to aimlessly destroy the world, it's to hit the "off" switch on the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In that sense, the MC would only be one part of a larger effort within government. The reasoning could be simple enough. Industry and the divisive politics of the day have made it impossible for us to get anywhere, why not use connections within government to get the job done? Like the DGR authors and others say, civilians harmed in the process would be considered collateral damage. This is, after all, military thinking. A couple million Iraqis dead in the name of oil? Well, we needed to defend the US from a threat thousands of miles away with zero connection to 9/11. We had a job to do, had to do it right. That's a bit insane if you ask me, so I still don't think the motivations of people in my story working to cripple civilization is all that crazy. I mean, yeah. It's crazy. But if you can walk a reader through the reasoning it can seem convincing. The reasoning is basically that you either stop civilization's extractive practices or all of humanity suffers tenfold and there's no hope. Select for the most "alarmist" and doomsday predictions of climate scientists, plug the reports into the story as sources of rage, fear and motivations within a secret sect of government, and there you go.
     
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  14. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    The mom died when the MC was young, and she is extremely close to her dad. Her dad has always been a very manipulative person, but very loving on the surface. he has encouraged her to think for herself and come to her own decisions, but he has had books and documentaries and things promoting his way of thinking surrounding her all the time. He has even entered into political debates with her since a young age, encouraging her to back up her thinking. But it all leads back to the assumption that people are inherently evil and must be controlled for their own good; he has better real life examples to support his claims than her. He is smarter than her, she is a child. She gets influenced by people outside of her family and he encourages to hear what she has learned. He listens, and he cares, but he is so loving and charming in the way he plants his own ideas in her head that she thinks it is the most reasonable, and only, way to see things. His character is complex in this way; his manipulativeness is framed within compassion. He wants to make her somebody he believes can make the world better. he cares very much about the world, the future of humanity, and the legacy of his family and doing good deeds. His methods are deplorable by the reader, but you connect with him because he does seem to love his daughter. And because he is so loving, she loves him too. She depends on his love, and expects him to always be there for her -- and he is.
     
  15. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Then why is she rebelling against him? It doesn't make sense. If her Father has been kind towards her their entire lives then why should she want to rebel against him? Also teenagers I think could care less about politics, because believe me I don't give a crap about them.
     
  16. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    She's not rebelling against her father. Was I unclear? Sorry if so. She's going along with everything he wants. I thought I spelled that out above.

    Teenagers sometimes care very much about politics. Look at the sixties. Look at Tumblr. If you must, convert "teenagers" into "college students."
     
  17. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    So I'm confused what this story is about now. Is about her realizing that she's been controlled her entire life and trying to break free of her father's grasp? If so wouldn't that be technically rebelling?
     
  18. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I would suggest doing some research into brain washing techniques, that is going to be your best bet at explaining how a father could do such a thing with his daughter.
     
  19. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is not about that at all. Did you see my post above with the video embedded?
     
  20. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    @theoriginalmonsterman i appreciate the question and other people's questions because this is getting me thinking a lot though...

    Ultimately I want the story to be humans vs. earth. Climate change has reached a critical point some time in the future and sea level rise, wildfires, insane storms, crop failures, civil unrest and industry's control over politics threaten people's survival. Simultaneously, there is a global underground insurgency that believes it is fighting against climate change by basically undoing civilization through violent means. Governments are both fighting and secretly supporting these efforts. The MC is an aboveground leader (like Lierre Keith in the video embedded above) having been indoctrinated by her father to do so as a secret agent. She may or may not be conflicted about everything, but her internal dialogue (pro state control) would contrast from her outward character ("green anarchist" grassroots leader). Is that a better description of the overall story?
     
  21. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I went ahead and read that now. So the story is about a woman in your 20s who works as a government agent who uses her seductive charms to influence young men to work for her eco-terrorist group? If it's not I'm not going to bother you anymore, because I can't be much help if I don't even know what the story is about :confuzled:
     
  22. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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  23. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    That looks terrible. I really hope my story doesn't seem as terrible. Oh god.
     
  24. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    It's actually not all that bad. It is actually a little like your story.

    The man in the interrogating room is actually Salt's adopted father who has trained Salt but also brainwashed her to the point she no longer knows him and what her mission is.
     
  25. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ohhh okay well in terms of character development. My MC would have no combat training at all. There would be action-y stuff, but it would be like C4 bombings to coal plants all over the world all at once kinda stuff, causing global economic shutdowns. A little bit more grandiose than what this looks like. meanwhile, climate change events would be causing equal devastation around the world. From this thread I did a bad job of mentioning that part, but the question was about character development not plot/story because I figured that'd be too tangential for the subforum.
     

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