1. sweet pandamonium
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    sweet pandamonium New Member

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    Could it be Magic or...?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by sweet pandamonium, Jan 22, 2011.

    Hey everyone!! Well write now I'm in the middle of writing a fantasy-ish story children story just for fun and I have a question about a certain plot hole I need filled. It's about a boy who wanders off into a cave and finds a crazy world of monsters. But if a human stays in the cave too long they begin to turn into a monster. My question is ... why is that? I feel like I need some sort of explanation.
    Is it magic? I wasn't really wanting to make this a magic fantasy story but if that seems like the only plausible reason.
    Or could anyone figure something else out?
    Please and Thank You
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Magic sounds like the most "plausible" explanation (if one can use that word).

    I suppose you could stretch the limits of genetic mutation to have some sort of rapid transformation. Genes that rapidly integrate into the genome and become expressed at very high levels, so that you're getting extreme physical changes in the organism. Keep in mind that would fall in the realm of 'pseudo-scientific,' but it is a viable option if you set it up right and really want to avoid magic.
     
  3. Irontrousers
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    Irontrousers Member

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    I suggest you make the cause something tangible (something in the water, for example) but not go into too many details about it. Treat it like magic but call it science.
    Or just call it magic. Kids are dumb, they don't care.
     
  4. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Because you said so. ;)

    "You mean I - I will become like you if I stay?"

    "Yup. Iz de way it goes."

    "But why? It's no fair!"

    " I donno - iz de way it goes. Always."
     
  5. Pen
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    Pen Member

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    There's no need to "kill the magic" with science- it could well be that all the people who went down there and decided to stay were once people like the boy who were gradually changed to a "more natural" form by exposure to magic.

    Or you could go the other route, and have everything starting to get stranger and stranger, and bam- last page is a full page illustration of the kid dying at the bottom of an underground hole from head injuries. Moral- don't go down caves, and books will hurt your feelings!
     
  6. jitun2
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    jitun2 New Member

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    Magic is actually the most "plausible" explanation. Or else you can try

    i) genetic mutation (as suggested by Steerpike)
    ii) Parallel universe where things are bad and the cave is a portal
    iii) The cave was a place where long long time ago a tribe(you can call them also aliens) quarantine something awful that causes the change and as you go through the story reveal what was it. that was you can call it magic for the time being but it will be something else finally.
    iv) A plane congaing classified materials disappeared at that place and the content of the plane cargo went into the cave that creates an environment that changes you.
    v) There was an attempt to make an brain mapping and controlling device that malfunctioned and it was discarded there in the cave and it emits some sort of radio waves that changes normal human to monsters.
    vi) An extinct bacteria named Bacillus Hussellus dwells only in that cave because the temperature and humidity is perfect for the spices and it can infect any living thing in this case human and cause changes in their brain to make them monsters

    Hope that helps. That's all i could think of for now.
     
  7. sweet pandamonium
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    sweet pandamonium New Member

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    Thank you so much everyone for your suggestions.

    While some of these suggestions do not quite fit in with the plot/theme of the story, there are quite a few that could fit with some tweaking

    Steerpike and jitun2: genetic mutation could definitely be a possibility, although toned down so it's not too scary for a children book. And thanks to the many other suggestions jitun2 gave.
    Pen: I do actually quite like the morbid suggestion you gave me. Could fit in with my story with some tweaking.
    Irontrousers: That might just be what I do if what I try really does not fit in with the whole plot/theme. I can be very picky so I will probably not go into too much detail.
    FrankABlisset: I really like your answer. I'm the writer so what I say goes right? Thank you for the suggestion of just leaving it as that. :)
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. I began thinking right away of possibilities for the genetic route and promptly forgot that you said it was a children's book. Obviously, you'd have to limit the amount of explanation you provided for any genetic mutations or transformations :D
     
  9. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Um, as someone who read widely and vociferously from a young age, I can tell you that I got terribly frustrated whenever I caught science errors in the fiction books I read. Genetic mutations done wrong are one of those things I would almost certainly have caught as a 4th grader.

    If you are going to write for kids, I strongly suggest trying to get the science right. Kids are still learning about the universe, and they make no distinction between the reality they interact with directly and the reality adults and books inform them about. If you must use B.S. to explain your made-up world, call it "magic" so the kids know not to put any credence in it, or just flat out don't explain and make it clear that the characters are not being told the reason.

    The person who tries to convince a kid that a brown cow gives chocolate milk is just as much a jackarse as the person who tries to convince a kid that mutations can turn a boy into a monster. Adults make the world scary enough with half-truths or outright false statements (Eggs are bad for you! Vaccines cause autism! Candy causes cavities! X-rays can kill you! Nuclear power willl cause cancer!); we don't need people making the situation worse because they're lazy or intellectually dishonest or both.

    Call it magic. You have a kid turning into a monster in an impossible fashion. So call it what it is -- or don't explain -- but for the love of whatever gods there are, don't be one of those fools whose actions actively convince smart kids that adults are stupid. It isn't good for the kid, it isn't good for society, and it really sucks to be a teacher who has to try to undo the work of stupid people and get the kid to have some kind of faith in humanity again.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Science fiction can be speculative, however. There is precedent in the animal world for rapid morphological transformation, and it happens as a result of genetic processes. When a butterfly is in its larval stage (caterpillar), it has the same genes as it does when it is in its mature stage. Different genes are "on" (expressed), and transformation can take as little time as a week and a half to two weeks. I don't see anything wrong with postulating morphological changes as a result of genetic processes in science fiction. Such physical transformation of a human doesn't occur in the natural world, but in speculative fiction you could certainly establish a basis for such things without screwing up the science, do long as you did it carefully and with knowledge of the underlying science.

    There is plenty in science fiction that doesn't exist in the real world, but is based on extrapolating real science.
     
  11. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    The science is irrelevant.

    Hopefully, you have a philosophical point to the monster thing and that's what's important for the reader.
     
  12. sweet pandamonium
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    sweet pandamonium New Member

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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I might just have less explanation in the long run like quite a few of you are suggesting. Thank you :)
     
  13. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Absolutely, but the discussion seemed to be "Why don't you justify the tranformation by saying genetic mutations did it?" followed by "Oh, yeah, that's a great idea! Now I can turn a kid into a monster by saying that some alleles have been switched to maximum expression!" and other completely bogus stuff.

    It isn't evident to me that the original poster has this underlying knowledge, nor that they are looking to learn it. Their reaction of "genetic mutation could definitely be a possibility" seems to indicate that they don't actually know about gene expression and how it is regulated, or about alleles versus genes, or so on. Of course, they may have been using "genetic mutation" as a shorthand for all the complexity to be found in genetics, but in my experience most people aren't scientifically literate.

    I am not arguing against young adult speculative fiction. I am strongly against people trying to handwave their plot hole away with technical terms and the illusion of scientific accuracy.

    I have encountered such unpleasant explanations as "relativity prevents us from traveling quickly through space, because if we were to move fast enough to get from Earth to Jupiter in a week or two, whole years would have passed outside this ship" and "the spacesuit mask is woven from DNA, which converts your breath to oxygen so you can breathe." Yes, really. I sincerely hope the original poster does not one day write a scene where the readers are told, "if you stay here for more than a few hours, you will inhale enough of a chemical to permanently alter gene expression. Within two days, your leg bones will become bowed, your skin will grow pebbly, thick and green, and you will no longer be able to speak in correctly spelled dialogue. Bwa hwa ha ha ha!"
     
  14. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't agree. If you really believe that 'children' are dumb - don't write for children they'll make mincemeat out of you.
     
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  15. alexjrc
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    alexjrc New Member

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    You don't need a how you need a why.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    LOL.

    Yeah, I hear ya. I don't disagree with your post, above.

    The genetic mutation route would certainly be complex if you wanted to explain how it happened, and that kind of explanation would probably be beyond the scope of a children's book. You couldn't just say that a change in gene expression makes a person a monster, because of course a human doesn't have those monster genes in the first place. So you'd need some mechanism to introduce the genetic material into the human, Then it would have to be incorporated into the host's genome in some way that doesn't prove to be lethal. Then I suppose you could start talking about expression and the like.

    Or maybe instead of incorporating into the genome, the new DNA could exist separately, kind of like plasmids in bacteria. Suppose some segments of the new DNA codes for repressors or uses RNAi to effectively shut down or reduce some of the host's genes, and then other new genes provide new proteins that take over the functions of the host genes that have been effectively shut down and cause morphological changes in the host.

    Anyway, I'm speculating well beyond a children's book. Cool to think about.
     

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