1. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico

    Have you ever felt held back by the improbable?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Wreybies, Sep 5, 2013.

    A few weeks back, in a different forum, a member brought up an interesting idea of using a 100%, absolutely no exceptions, Eye for an Eye legal system as the core for a story. There would still be due process, representation, everything you think of as part of a modern legal system, but punishments, when one is found guilty, are always an eye for an eye. The majority of forum members argued the grave problems of such a legal system as a reason for not using it as the core of her story. I thought this was ridiculous on two counts. First, all legal systems suffer from inherent and often grave flaws, and second, the flaws would be the source of conflict for her story, so of course it would be flawed, why argue against that just because it seems an improbable legal system.

    Then the other day I was watching the little retro/future flick In Time. Not an Oscar nodder, but an intriguing little piece of clean science fiction. It reminded me in many ways of sci-fi from the golden age in its focus on a single concept. The economic system in this movie, where time is literally money and that time is the time you have left to live, is also an utterly improbable system to come into being, and yet there it is, on screen, making for a thought provoking flick.

    This got me to wondering how often I may have said no, in my own head, to an idea just because it seemed too improbable to be worth fleshing out.

    Have you ever had an idea that you thought, "Nah, that could never come to pass," or bounced an idea off of a friend only to get a, "Dude, that's retarded. Shit like that would never happen," and then held back from writing it?
     
  2. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    I used to, yes. But then, I used to actually give a rat's ass about what people thought about my writing. I've reached a point now where a) I just don't care, and b) I think if you make it work within the story it shouldn't matter at all. It doesn't have to be realistic here, it has to be realistic in the world you've created. It's really no different than making someone be paranoid about butterflies. Sounds stupid maybe, but if the paranoia and fear are real for the character, it works for the story. That's the only thing that matters, cohesiveness within the piece. To me, anyway, lol.

    And really, the real life shit I write I have to write as fiction because people say it's unrealistic even when it actually happened, hehe.
     
  3. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    When I was in my early twenties, I had a nightmare that I thought could become a very cool short story. Then I thought about it a bit, and it seemed the premise was so preposterous that it could never work. I stayed away from the idea for more than twenty-five years. Just a couple of years ago, I took an online writing course and wrote that story as one of my assignments. It got a stronger reaction than anything else I did for the course, and nobody commented that the premise was too far-fetched.

    I learned something important then.
     
  4. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    If there's one thing I've learned, it's that anything can be turned into a great story by a) great writing, b)great themes being explored c) both of those elements. Sometimes a work comes off wrong because things just aren't balanced well. But if a skilled writer wants to write about something implausible, then why not. When it comes to art, and writing especially, the boundaries of what works are there to be tested and eventually pushed out. It just takes some skill.

    The premise you mentioned above causes no issues in my immediate awareness. In fact it makes for some interesting implications. How would people feel about robbing someone if they knew they themselves would be robbed if caught. Or rapists? How would they feel knowing that if caught they would pay in full rather than being locked in a cell and given free food.
     
  5. ddavidv
    Offline

    ddavidv Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    354
    Likes Received:
    240
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I can only add that my current project is about a man, who doesn't believe in heaven, attempting to find out if it exists. Even weirder, I'm an atheist who is writing it (spoiler: heaven is depicted in the third act). So essentially, I'm writing about something I have absolutely no belief in. I accomplish this by changing the rules of what heaven looks like to suit my own fictitious vision, and my characters dismiss 'known' religious versions of it as just plain wrong. So, religious people will hate it, because it says they are wrong. Atheists will hate it, because it says they are wrong. It's written as option C, neither of the above, something nobody I'm aware of believes. It's proving to be a whole lot of fun to write, though possibly completely unmarketable, but I'm not concerned with that.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  6. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Well I, for one, like this Idea! I really hope you can pull it off. I am one of those people who is option c (I think) I was raised a christian, but if I must wear a title it would be "spiritualist". I basically believe that there is true and false in every belief system. Perhaps there is a heaven, or maybe a state that seems heavenly, but it isn't as the religious depict it. Maybe there is no God, But not as the atheists would say. Instead God may be source, consciousness, the creative mind of the universe itself. My personal views run much deeper, but in the end life isn't about having definite answers, it's about asking questions and finding answers you can believe. It'll be interesting to see how your story plays out and impacts people if it is written well. Good luck to you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
    ddavidv and Wreybies like this.
  7. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    If you're not already, you need to be a fan of Octavia Butler (I worship her). Her Parable series is right in the vein of which you speak. ;)
     
    Andrae Smith and Steerpike like this.
  8. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    Yes, you can't really go wrong with Octavia Butler, and her Parable series is excellent!
     
  9. DarfieldDudette
    Offline

    DarfieldDudette New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Maybe it's because I started writing at a very young age (I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing), but to me, the point of writing has always been to explore the impossible. Creating worlds that don't really exist (even if they are grounded in the real world) is the fun part about writing. Example: At this very moment I am working on the first draft of a screenplay that will hopefully be moving into production sometime in the coming year. It's about an introvert named Gracie Stevens who gets dumped by her best friend of 12 years for not being "cool" enough. After being dumped, shy, timid Gracie gets roped into writing stage plays for a youth production group, consisting of very EXtroverted individuals (If all goes well, I'll be playing the role I invented to symbolize the girl I wanted as a friend in grade seven, the beautiful, quirky, confidant, actress). They go on adventures, have good times, and eventually Gracie discovers that there are people who will celebrate the introvert in her.

    But getting back to the point I was trying to make: Having been a part of theatre, I can vouch for the fact that the small sheltered world of the Stage House, in which the story takes place, does not exist anywhere in theatre, nor is it really plausible for it to exist. In this case, it's a game of subtleties, because its actually a safe haven I created for Gracie so that she could figure out who she is and who she wants to be. If someone told me that an idea was too far fetched, I'd probably be a little miffed.

    Not to say that I don't shake my head at things because they're ridiculous, but I still write them down until they kind of play out and taper off ... their good for a laugh when I'm stuck on something, and it's not like anyone has to see them. Aline life forming on the moon, anyone? :D
     
    DH Hanni and Andrae Smith like this.
  10. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    It's interesting that you bring up In Time because it had a flaw in it's reasoning (aside from being a really shitty movie). Why would you need a bank, if everyone is using their time. The only purpose a bank would have would be to get robbed, and that's what happens.

    I would answer that sometimes an interesting thought experiment on paper turns in to a really stupid movie when you think it through. That doesn't mean don't write it. It just means people might think it's very silly.

    And Olivia Wilde is his mom? What's up with that?
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  11. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    I worry about EVERY story I write. Then again, my stories are generally quite heavy on drug abuse, alcoholism, sex, murder, rape, criminal activity, and other pretty taboo subjects.
     
  12. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    When you think about it, life is pretty improbable.

    Actually, most of the weird things that happen to us every day are quite improbable.

    Just go ahead and write it. If it turns out to the really awful, I'm quite sure you'll notice. ;)
     
  13. idle
    Offline

    idle Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    one of the hearts of Europe
    I fight this all the time. Not at first, I like to explore crazy ideas and consider their consequences. But very often while exploring I find so many holes in it that the whole idea falls apart for me. Sometimes I pick some of the pieces up and try a different approach, sometimes I leave it altogether.

    Improbable ideas are fine as long as you believe in them. And if you don't, maybe you just aren't embracing their craziness enough. :)
     
  14. plothog
    Offline

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    England
    The minority report springs to mind as a successful story about an improbable legal system.
     
  15. NigeTheHat
    Online

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    London
    I can take an outlandish premise, but I don't like it when the world doesn't make internal sense. That feels like the author hasn't really given any thought to how things work.

    As an example, Elysium. Spoilers will follow.

    In that film, all the rich people live on a space station, and everyone else lives on Earth, which has become one huge slum town. Every rich person has a Magic Healing MacGuffin in their home which can cure anything through the power of Science. None of these things exist on Earth.

    The plot revolves around the protagonist getting a dose of radiation and trying to get to the space station so he can use a Magic Healing MacGuffin and cure himself.

    Now, I'm quite happy with the existence of a Magic Healing MacGuffin. But the fact that none existed on Earth was too much. Even if you're keeping the population of Earth in effective slavery, it makes far more sense to have a few Magic Healing MacGuffins in the hospitals, because then you have healthy, productive slaves who are building more stuff for you and are, for instance, less inclined to rise up in bloody rebellion. It's just massive society-wide idiocy for the sake of creating a plot.

    I'm well aware not everyone's going to care about that. But I find a story far more satisfying when, even when the starting premise is bizarre, there's some internal logic behind how things work from there.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  16. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    I only felt held back by the improbable when I was a beginner. There was so much that I didn't know, I felt overwhelmed and insecure, and I would obsess about things like this, as if making sure that what I'm writing can't be criticised thematically, will somehow magically make me a better writer. It won't. A good writer can write about the most preposterous premise, and still make it work. That's the trick with good writing - you can tell any story, the only limit is your imagination. So I always advise people, when they ask whether anyone would buy their premise, to not worry about that, because they can make it work, if they try hard enough and believe in their story. Audiences want to be entertained, all they care about an interesting and cohesive narrative, not plausability (unless you are writing non-fiction, obviously, that has to be accurate and plausible to work).
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  17. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    The reader will believe/accept what the author makes them believe/accept. That's the job of the author - make the reader believe it.
     
    jazzabel likes this.
  18. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    I have to admit I was the opposite ha ha! I started out writing the most improbable and impossible things. If it was too realistic it was boring, mundane even. So I challenged myself to create something interesting and totally impossible (or at least highly unlikely) in this reality. Of course every new creation has its own reality to explore and I was not as skilled so those stories aren't very good. But I cling to the idea that once I become well-grounded in the simpler, more believable stuff. I can bring to life a world that only exists because a character made it so.
     
  19. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    @Andrae Smith: I envy you, the carefree creativity and boldness. I started seriously writing as an adult, and by that time had a Uni degree behind me and a serious case of perfectionism. I couldn't stand writing badly so I was somewhat artistically constipated, I think. That's why I only wrote stories which were dramatisations of real events. But it helped me to hone the craft, the tedium of pondering on every word and every concept, and once I was satisfied with the quality, I started to relax. But even now I lean towards realism, and sometimes I have a problem letting the wilder ideas flow. We all have something we need to work on, I guess :)
     
  20. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Ya know. I'm actually feeling this right now, but it's not the overall plot, it's just one scene. A coma wake up to be specific. The reason? I'm not writing it like your standard "I hear voices, I'm so tired, everything is black. Who am I? Where am I?" rather my MC wakes up to the sound of a radio, feeling pain, sick to her stomach, dry mouth, etc.. So she actually thinks she's hungover. Then she tries to remember "ugh, what did I do last night?" and the realization hits she's about to be late for work. But in the course of this, she remembers chatting with a guy at a bar... while she was drinking a plain coke. Therefore she comes to the conclusion said gentleman must have date rape drugged her and opens her eyes to find herself in a hospital, completely paranoid thinking she was raped.

    Now, I don't think there's anything wrong here, it's actually been a proven some people (actually alot) come out of coma's paranoid and delusional, but I keep fearing the reader will go "oh that is such bullshit, nobody would wake up thinking things like that!"
     
    DH Hanni, Andrae Smith and jazzabel like this.
  21. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    @Alesia: I actually think your approach is really fresh and interesting. I'd buy it, and I know a lot about coma. Keep going with it, I think it'll be a really good scene :)
     
  22. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    I'd buy that kind of wakening. It's not cliched, and it seems realistic. I can imagine someone going through those sensations.
     
  23. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN


    That's pretty much the feel of this scene.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  24. Annûniel
    Offline

    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Ye Old Dominion, USA
    I should have probably learned something by reading this thread the other day. I don't remember my dreams often and most of them are too chaotic to be of any use for writing. But just the other night, I had a dream that made me think it would be worth writing about immediately after waking up. In the minutes it took me to become conscious enough to pick up a pen and paper, I decided it wasn't any good and didn't write anything down.

    Now I wish I had, but I don't remember anything about this dream. Ah well, lesson learned. Hopefully I remember it for next time and don't dismiss it off hand as being "improbable."
     
  25. DH Hanni
    Offline

    DH Hanni Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Pasco, WA
    I'm a new writer and this is what I keep running into. I'm also a perfectionist, which isn't helping at all. I know I'm holding back not just on ideas but the deeper emotions because I'm still very afraid my ideas are stupid and silly or too much like what other people have done before. Or I'm afraid of going deeper into emotions I personally am not comfortable with yet intellectually I know it's about the characters and their story. What I have a problem with in the real world shouldn't factor in. I'm not used to just playing and freedom but I'm working on it.
     

Share This Page