1. Jones6192
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    Jones6192 Member

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    Got a concept, need a plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Jones6192, Dec 1, 2010.

    Okay, so this is something I cooked up a little while ago. I have this basic idea to do a story revolving around an alien criminal, who has finally been captured. The rulers of the alien's empire decides to maroon him on a remote planet as his punishment, but they don't wish him to remember what they did, so he won't try to get revenge in the event he finds some way off said world. Therefore, they put a high-tech collar on his neck, which sends electrical signals to his brain that blocks his memories of being a criminal. They then shoot him in a pod onto the world they have chosen: Earth.

    Now, here's where I find problems. Now I have a protagonist, who has no clue who he is and why he is wearing this collar, and he has landed on Earth. I haven't decided which era he has landed on Earth in. I basically want to do a story where this guy becomes part of whatever society he stumbles across upon coming out of the pod, and a few years later, an army of aliens appears on Earth, planning to conquer the planet. Now he must defend Earth, while at some point the collar is removed, forcing him to confront who he once was. These are just general story points I intend to use at some point: I just need a good layout for it. Any ideas, friends?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honestly - have you tried just starting to write it? That is a lot more than I usually start with lol

    Otherwise I would make it fairly modern - you need technology and give him a whole family identity. So when the aliens come they have something more personal to threaten.
     
  3. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    Sounds like a plot already.
     
  4. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^This is a great idea, Jones. Very original. I like it. But, um, why wouldn't the rulers of the empire just execute him in the first place? My question isn't as nearly as important though. The point is - you have a character who's on earth, who's now learning about his past life. More importantly, your character goes through a period where he has to confront his old self. But how does he do so? Does he feel remorse? And how exactly was he a "criminal"? Was he just a crook trying to feed himself, etc? If you can give me a few more details, I'll try to help you out.
     
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  5. Jones6192
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    Jones6192 Member

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    To answer your question, I imagined him as being the most infamous killer in the empire. Just a bad, bad dude. He's done murder, robbery, everything in the book. Which is why it is important that when he rediscovers his memories, he is utterly horrifed at the monster he once was. It's kind of a story of redemption.

    And as to why they simply don't execute him...well, I was thinking that maybe in the alien's culture, banishment from one's one kind is the equivalent of solitary confinement. They want to get him out of the way, without killing him, but they fear his vengeance if he ever escapes. Thus, the memory-blocking collar.
     
  6. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    You've got lots of little pieces of plot there. I see two ways to go.

    Are you an organized sort of person (or aspire to be)? Make a list (rather than paragraph) of all those points you noted. Then start writing each as an independent work. As each is completed, make it as such. As more plot points come to mind, add them to the list in their appropriate place.

    Do you instead thrive under more chaotic conditions? Then take the paragraphs you gave us and pick whichever point looks most interesting to you at the moment and start writing it.

    You'll need to start writing at some point - the other option is to wait, and wait, and wait till you have the perfect outline.

    -Frank
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I would assume that the rulers did not execute him because their intention was to rehabilitate rather than to punish. If that wasn't the reason, or if you haven't thought about it, then you should give it some thought. If it was the reason, then you have a wonderful opportunity to explore the whole notion of rehabilitation vs. punishment.

    Second question: based on your statement that when he recovers his memory, he is horrified at his past acts, it seems that you have a chance to explore the concept of wrongdoing as a function of environment and influences as opposed to inherent evil of the individual. Again, if you haven't thought about it, you should. It may give you an excellent opportunity for backstory.

    Third question: when he realizes his past acts, after he's finished being horrified, how does that change his behavior? Does it make him want to do good to compensate for that? You can build into your plot some accidental occurrence that triggers the memory, or you can have him discover it. I like the former, myself, but it's your story. Either way, your choice on that will probably influence your choice of era for his arrival on Earth.

    Finally, if you choose a historical era for him to arrive on earth, you have to be careful about the implications of changing history, and what that will do to the story's credibility. But you have the opportunity to develop the theme of redemption. In short, you have come up with, I think, a terrific concept that is just bursting with possibilities for a fine story with significant themes.

    Sketch it out. Don't worry about tying up all the loose ends. As you begin to write and develop your characters, new subplots and themes will occur to you. But decide your basic questions first, and then start writing or outlining, whichever approach makes you more comfortable.

    Best of luck!!
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    One other thing that occurred to me: what is the relationship between the army of aliens who show up on Earth, and the civilization that sent your MC here in the first place? Another subplot opportunity.
     
  9. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    A suggestion you might think about: have the collar damaged but repairable. He now has a choice to make: repair the collar and return to oblivion or take it off and help defend the Earth.
     
  10. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Seems to me like you have a plot already. To sum up what you told us:

    - This guy is a dangerous criminal who has committed horrible acts
    - He is sentence to imprisonment and a forced amnesia device
    - He has no memory of who he is and escapes to Earth
    - He integrates with the culture of Earth
    - He makes a new good and honest life for himself on Earth
    - Earth is threatened with invasion
    - He becomes a leading force in defending Earth
    - He learns who he is and is forced to choose what sort of guy he is and what sort of guy he was

    Sounds to me like you have your plot and just need to tweek it a little to suit your needs as the story goes.
     
  11. Jones6192
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    Jones6192 Member

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    Okay, I’ve done some thinking, using your suggestions. I’ve come up with an overall basic overview of the concept:

    There is an alien civilization called the Chu’lax Empire, on a remote planet in another galaxy. The rulers have finally captured notorious criminal Nozrot, and intend to execute him. However, a revered scientist proposes that they use Nozrot as the first recipient of a new rehabilitation strategy. His plan is to place a memory collar on Nozrot (a device that blocks selected memories), and then they will send him to the primitive backwater world Earth, where he can start a new life and become a new person, as well as never bother the Empire again. Thus, a ship takes Nozrot, locked inside a pod, and launches him onto the planet.

    Now, here is where the story could go one of two directions. One is this:

    Nozrot stumbles out of the pod, and is captured by humans. He manages to escape and go on the run. Meanwhile, an alien mercenary has arrived on Earth, and his story is that he was secretly hired by the Corleone-esque family of one of Nozrot’s past victims, to capture him alive and return him to them, who will murder him in revenge (they didn’t agree with the whole rehabilitation course of action, and feel Nozrot deserves death). So now it becomes, basically, a sci-fi version of The Fugitive, and at one point Nozrot’s collar either accidentally comes off, or the mercenary removes it himself, and Nozrot recovers his memories and has to face who he once was.

    The other, more epic version, is this:

    Nozrot stumbles out of the pod, and befriends a group of humans who are currently at war with some other group. Nozrot becomes a revered warrior in this band, which makes him think he is being a hero and fighting for something good. But eventually, the same scientist who had proposed the plan to maroon Nozrot and block his memories arrives on Earth, and warns Nozrot that an armada of ships are on their way to conquer the planet. Thus, the two feuding groups are forced to work together to fight off the invaders, with Nozrot at some point having the collar come off and forced to recognize that he was once a monster, and becomes determined to save Earth as a way of repentance.

    So, which to go with: the former, which would make for a more suspenseful, character-driven drama, or the latter, which is more of an epic action war saga. Lately I’ve been liking the fugitive plot the most, because I have a general idea how to do that one, whereas the epic version would be very convoluted. And yet I can’t get the image of Nozrot leading the now-united enemy groups against the huge invasion force out of my head. Which sounds like it would be a better story, in the end?
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very unhelpful answer but the only way to find out is write a few thousand words of each - see where they are going.

    Of my four novel length stories two have flowed right from the first paragraph the other two have needed me to write several beginnings.
     
  13. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    I'm having trouble with this whole alien from another galaxy fits right in thing. How does he (If these aliens even have a he/she gender identity) not wind up dissected in a lab? You've got divergent evolution, biochemistry, nutrition, culture, language, cognition... This alien, just how alien is he? Just so many obstacles to overcome.

    How advanced is Earth? In order to take on extra-galactic enemies when they could just pulverise the planet from orbit... We have nothing in place to deal with rogue asteroids, let alone an external force with the technology required to get from point A to point B in less than ten generations.
     
  14. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Can't you do both. The character is taken prisoner (possibly escapes and is caught by other tribe) and slowly proves his worth eventually leading both armies against the Alien invader. Dances With Wolves, Avatar, Last Samurai etc.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, but we can do really cool things with an iPhone...
     
  16. Midnight Pete
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    Midnight Pete Member

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    I have ideas and questions.

    Does this alien criminal find himself in a populated area when he lands on Earth? Is he a human-like alien or obviously not human? It sounds like your protagonist is from a technologically advanced civilization, and they've chosen our planet as a prison for this one criminal. But why? Don't they know we're here? And whoever this alien civilization is, they must be benevolent if they choose banishment over execution.

    This collar seems to affect his mind in such a way as to cause amnesia. If the protagonist doesn't know who he is, would he forget that he's not human? Maybe he might imprint on the humans who find him. Has this character been accused wrongly or justly, and of what? What might the civilization he's from consider a banishable crime?

    This collar he is forced to wear should be tamper-proof in such a way as to hooked into his nervous-system and cause pain if he tries to tamper with it.
     
  17. Jones6192
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    Jones6192 Member

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    I'll go through each of your comments/questions one by one:

    1. Does this alien criminal find himself in a populated area when he lands on Earth?
    I have not yet decided on what era to set the story in, so currently I don't know. Depends on the historical period.

    2. Is he a human-like alien or obviously not human?
    He is humanoid, but has large eyes, bat-like ears, double-jointed legs like a dog, four fingers, and orange skin.

    3. It sounds like your protagonist is from a technologically advanced civilization, and they've chosen our planet as a prison for this one criminal. But why? Don't they know we're here? And whoever this alien civilization is, they must be benevolent if they choose banishment over execution.
    The aliens are more advanced, and know of this planet, but consider it to be like the intergalactic equivalent of an anthill: populated by primitive animals. As for why they do banishment over execution, I considered solving that plot hole by saying that the character is the first recipient of a new rehabilitation strategy that involves blocking their memories and then marooning them in an environment where they can start a new life, free of their past guilt. A stretch, I know. Do you have any better ideas for how to justify marooning over death sentence? I'd appreciate the advice.

    4. This collar seems to affect his mind in such a way as to cause amnesia. If the protagonist doesn't know who he is, would he forget that he's not human?
    Well, the moment he looks at his reflection, he'd know instantly, right?

    5. Maybe he might imprint on the humans who find him.
    Exactly. The idea is that he spends some time on Earth amongst humans, and thus comes to treat them as his adoptive race, taking on their language, customs and quirks.

    6. Has this character been accused wrongly or justly, and of what?
    He is a vicious murderer, guilty of mutliple crimes of terrible magnitude. So yeah, he's definitely guilty as charged.

    7. What might the civilization he's from consider a banishable crime?
    Like I said, I'm having trouble justifying banishment if he's done such awful things. So I need help there. :)

    8. This collar he is forced to wear should be tamper-proof in such a way as to hooked into his nervous-system and cause pain if he tries to tamper with it.
    I imagined the collar as sending a signal to the memory portion of his brain, blocking certain sections that remind him of who he is. I know, that's pretty ridiculous. But it's alien tech, right? And it can only be removed by either being unlocked by a special scanner, or a poweful electric shock that will short-circuit it.

    Thanks so much for the comments. I look forward to more advice from you.
     
  18. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Personally, I would not make the alien a killer, as I think the alien race he came from would not pu him on a populated planet!??

    If I was going to write this I would say your MC Alien, was a failed leader/king, who conquored planets (and in the process killed millions), and for some reason was banished and given the collar. Then he still will have the conflict of facing his former self but also facing the other side of the coin, when defending another invading race of aliens.
     

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