1. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Help me think of horrible fates

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by FireWater, Jul 3, 2016.

    EDIT: Mods, I'm really sorry - I posted in the wrong section. Please move this to the plot section. Thanks! :)

    My MC and her friend/partner are, in the beginning of the story, the only two people who underwent a secret government experiment that gave them immortality. They're biologically 16 but age very slowly and will stop in their "twenties." There's rare exceptions to the immortality rule--for example, getting bombed into a million pieces that float in different directions down the river wouldn't be survivable, but something like a gunshot wound would heal/regenerate itself.

    The experiment happened hundreds of years before the start of the novel, and most of humanity has died off due to major geo/environmental issues. The remaining sliver of humanity, just a few thousand people, live in buildings called "Sanctuaries" scattered across the land, to protect them from the mutated creatures and environmental dangers in the world outside, which humanity no longer has the resources to tame.

    My MC hates being stuck in the Sanctuary, because 1) she has no one to connect with who's like her, and feels constantly isolated, and 2) she's constantly subject to experiments conducted by the Sanctuary government, due to the fact that they want to figure out how to re-create the immortality cure (since the original experiment labwork was destroyed).

    Within chapter 3, she discovers the other Experiment kid in the Sanctuary, and finally gets the kindred spirit and companion that she's been longing for up until then. Seemingly her life took a huge spike up for the better.

    But then, she learns something that prompts them (she and her boyfriend) to escape the Sanctuary, which is extremely high-risk, ASAP. An elevation of the stakes, so to speak.

    Also, later in the story, she ends up liberating 3-4 other Experiment kids (I have their characters all fleshed out now thanks to y'all!) who were trapped in the fate that she and her boyfriend ran from. After this point, they're able to work together to fight back against the system that's been hunting them down.

    The thing is, I'm still drawing blanks on what this awful fate would be. I had originally done another thread several weeks ago that involved the stakes somehow involving aliens, but that twisted my plot into a million knots and I'd rather work with something I can deal with. I'm also open-minded at this point on what it could be. Something where, at first, an early level of its operation (what she originally ran away from) is low-key enough that it's possible for the two MCs to help free their new friends from it. But also, something that could be built on as the story evolves, to become something more systematic and large scale.

    I'm totally open minded on it at this point, open to suggestions, and will give like/rep points to anyone who answers.
     
  2. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    It sounds like you already have something in mind I think. Perhaps you have some ideas or a starting point you could elaborate on? Or some examples of what you mean?

    If I'm just throwing something out there, then I'd suggest 4th dimensional objects. Something invisible that cannot be detected by the human senses, that can simply pass through anything. But their presence can have drastic effects on every aspect of reality that can be perceived by humans. The objects themselves don't have to be intelligent or even elaborated much upon, which is usually better due to the fact that we as humans can't even comprehend them fully.

    Just a suggestion.
     
  3. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I dunno... being locked in a lab and spending the rest of eternity as a lab rat seems like a pretty horrific fate to me. What this description is lacking, to my mind, is a villain. I'm not talking about the Sanctuary... I'm talking about the ones behind/above them. Why did the government do this experiment in the first place? Where did they get the tech? How did they come up with the formula/process/whatever? Did they get it from somewhere else? Maybe that source wants it back, at any cost, and/or they want to destroy any traces of it in humanity's hands.

    The setting seems kind of odd, too - it's really conducive to a story, but you don't seem to be doing anything with it. Was it really "major geo/environmental issues", or is that just what everyone believes? Maybe the government knew it was coming, and that's why they did the experiment - to have some people who could survive and repopulate?
     
  4. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Well, the setting does get used. The change in plot at the 20% mark involves the main character learning the need to escape, and breaking out of the Sanctuary to make a run for it. The story only takes place inside the Sanctuary for the first 20%.

    So here's kind of what I was thinking. I'm just concerned about plot holes, or about tying up so many knots that I get myself stuck in a corner logistically.

    What if:

    - Unknown to everybody else, aliens had made a deal with the top executors of the Experiment, to give a trial test of human immortality for the select group of kids chosen, in exchange for being able to harvest other humans from food at a specific low rate that no one would notice (i.e. from prisons, homeless people, etc.)
    - The reason why the aliens can't just come harvest everyone, is because they lack the tangible physical form and the humans' 5 senses, so would have no way to survive if they came down to the human world. They have highly-classified government people helping them with this process by rounding up the people and putting them into receptables/portals that the aliens are able to feed from. Not sure how this would work though.
    - The aliens tried to come to Earth as a high-risk operation, and ended up failing, but they brought foreign elements not compatible with Earth that caused the "Distortion" that killed off most humans/animals and mutated others.
    - Currently, the aliens want to abduct the immortal kids to their own dimension, but need the humans' logistical help, in exchange for not harvesting the humans at the Sanctuary where she lives. The Sanctuary leaders want to make up a lie to her and lead her to the place to be harvested, to save themselves, but her one mentor {who's run away anyway} gets a message to her to warn her about the need to flee.

    That's originally what I was going to work with, but I feel like there's so many ways to screw up with this, or for it to spiral into something that makes sense.

    Also, the villains would be human tracker agents who are sent to hunt her down. I already have characters who would fill this role.

    I could use some help fleshing out the alien stuff, addressing/eliminating the gaping plot holes and problems (I feel like there are so many), and just not feeling like I'm driving the train off the tracks.
     
  5. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe he started out his captivity in relative safety but with no will to do anything, his interactions with her inspire him to try to escape by himself, but he gets caught and now they're going to find out exactly what it takes to kill him?

    Then, when she gets to him and they break out together, they find out that one of the other immortals is going to be executed as a message to the other 2-3. Just knowing that the people in charge would kill their captives to make a point means that the protagonists would have to break every single one of them out at the same time.
     
  6. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    The beginning of your story sounds similar to "Wayward Pines", I'm only familiar with it on television, book may vary. I think the alien involvement would make the story too complex, so I would tend to use whatever research work that was done to create immortality be the cause of mankind's destruction, typical ironic twist. Of course the few "success" stories would hold the key to fixing things in the mind of those in control but to unlock the secret will require some unethical research on the immortals. Of course this all sounds familiar to me so obviously my idea is not very original it would seem.
     
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  7. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Thanks for the idea. But, to me it doesn't make sense why the government would want to kill the very, very few experiment immortals. There's only a small handful in existence, and the reason they're being researched is because the gov't wants to find out how it works and replicate it (because the original labwork got destroyed in the Distortion) for themselves in order to learn how to create immortality. So it seems that the logical thing would be that the gov't would want to keep them alive and captive, not kill them.

    I also had a new idea while typing this:

    What if the immortality experiment, the original one, was done as a response to alien warfare? What if the very high-ups of the secret parts of the gov't (in the story) had learned of aliens with malevolent intent, and the Experiment was part of a trial run to create soldiers? And now the Sanctuary's top leaders are aware of the aliens' presence, which is why they're trying to re-create the experiment and learn how it works to create more soliders, and so the aliens have set up a plan to destroy the Sanctuary and take the immortals captive?

    EXCEPT. This is where I get stuck.

    I currently envision my aliens as being totally different from, and mysterious from, humans. I do not want them to be "gray/green people," lizard-based, insect-like, robotic, or any other thing that's derivative of Earth stuff. I want them to be so different that they don't have the same 5 senses or tangible form as humans do. Instead, I see them being so different, that they operate with different senses and look invisble to humans. Sort of like "demons" or alterdimensional beings that feed off energy from other lifeforms (in this case, humans).

    A big reason as to why I did this is because I feel like realistically, if the aliens could just come over to earth and wipe shit out, the human characters literally couldn't stand a chance.

    But because of this, if the aliens can't tangibly come down to earth, how would they abduct/harvest people exactly? And hunt down/capture the MC? I already have human characters who are hunting the MCs down post-escape, using trained monsters from the outside like the way Ramsay Bolton uses his dog pack. The aliens have duped them into a deal that if they bring back the immortal MCs, the aliens will grant the hunters immortal life in exchange.

    Also, for communications, I have it so the aliens have created an artificial mouthpiece, kind of like how we create artifical animated characters or movies and transmit them for anyone to see. This character originally introduces herself as a new Sanctuary citizen who tranferred from another Sanctuary, to be an assistant to the Sanctuary head. But really, she's not alive at all, just a hologram that the aliens are using to communicate with.

    But how would the harvesting/transport happen if the aliens can't physically appear on earth?

    Or let's say the human hunters "got" the MCs, how would their process of handing them over to the aliens be like?
     
  8. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    I really like this idea, but am not sure what you mean, and am only grasping it in very general terms. Could you elaborate a little more? :)
     
  9. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I only meant the research was painful, disfiguring, requires captivity, etc. sort of thing, not necessarily deadly. Not sure why my suggestion is unclear, seems pretty standard too me. It sounds like you really want your incorporeal aliens to be in the story, their ability to capture humans shouldn't be a problem, I would use robotic devices under alien control as an example or human traitors sort of like slave traders. But the alien aspect would seem to become the story more than the immortality aspect in my mind, two very big story lines in my opinion which I think would be difficult to write coherently.
     
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  10. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    With the robotic devices or human slave traders, how would they logistically "hand over" the people if the aliens are not able to tangibly come walk around on the earth?

    I was thinking maybe they could have some kind of container or box that's laced with the elements/energy from the aliens' realm, that could be sort of like a wormhole. But I'm not sure if that's the best way to go about it.

    EDIT: I just had a new idea on this. What if the aliens were creating this wormhole-like "tunnel," invisible to human senses and paved by the aliens' energy, where they were storing the people whose human energy (like electrical energy?) they feed off of. And this "tunnel" is getting closer and closer to earth, at which point the barrier would somehow break, and it would lead to a climactic point where releasing everyone trapped inside (the victims of the harvesting) would also open their world and lead to this climactic war? If this were the case, how could the humans win? Is this even a good idea, or does it just muddy things up more than it's worth?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  11. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Ah, I see. How this:

    The aliens aren't feeding on the humans' physical bodies, but their essence. They can't interact with our dimension except through the use of a special device that creates a portal (wormhole, what have you), enabling them to drain the essence (obviously, the aliens gave the humans the knowledge to create this thing as part of their deal). Say, the victim is placed in a chamber, and the door is locked. A portal then opens on one wall, leading into blackness (or whatever), and the victim's life force is physically drawn out as a stream of mist into the portal, eventually killing the person.

    Where do the immortals come in? There's a faction in the government that's either trying to play both sides (as in, they're trying to gain the power themselves, whereupon they can tell the aliens to stuff it), or are opposed to the whole "aliens feed on humans" thing and are trying to figure out a way to save humanity. It's also possible that the immortals can't be completely drained - they could be drained near-death and then regenerate all that energy, unlike normal humans, which would make them the perfect sacrifices for the aliens.

    The idea of the aliens working with the higher-ups in exchange for immortality makes sense. I was going to ask how they could communicate, but I suppose for a race that can transcend dimensions, it wouldn't be hard to send a message through a portal. I also like the aliens remaining faceless, unknowable beings. Let them lurk in the background, using the humans as pawns. I dunno if you've ever played Half-Life, but I just got a vision of the thing Dr. Breen was talking to in HL 2 - when things went south, he begged them to let him escape to their dimension, and they just hung him out to dry.

    How does it all end? If the good guys can destroy the portal and all knowledge of it, then find a way to prevent the aliens from opening another portal, that would be a win. Sure, it doesn't really change how Earth is, but you can end it with a message of hope - "Now that the aliens' influence is gone, we can start to rebuild", or whatever.
     
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  12. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing that throws me off is the use of 'experiment kid'.

    They're not kids. Maybe physically, but mentally, and in chronological sense, they're several hundred years old. And they'd definitely be warped if they've spent generations isolated and poked and prodded by say a new generation of scientists about every thirty years.

    They would have witnessed civilization's collapse, and would be a potential resource, knowing places and bits of technological know how that have been lost.

    That is, unless their mental growth and maturity are similarly arrested. And that would be another whole can of worms, that might be interesting to explore, if it were true. Plus, after watching people unlike them grow old and die, fall ill or break arms, etc., which isn't a problem for them. They would probably develop an certain attitude, probably one of superiority, or at least being very different. Another avenue to explore.

    But being a prisoner and isolated for centuries? Poked and prodded? That would be a fate bad enough, I would think.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  13. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    TWErvin2 - You're right that the "kid" thing is inaccurate - it was a poor choice of words. They definitely do have affected personalities like what you said. One of them is very superior, and my MC had become very resigned and sort of dead inside until she realized that there were others like her and a way to escape the Sanctuary and have a life. That gave her hope. Another one is very warped and sort of crazy, like Helena from Orphan Black. They all turned out differently, but the whole thing definitely messed them up, and they aren't "kids" mentally. I just carelessly used that term because they all look 16.

    NoName - I really like your ideas. As for the portal, instead of it being a device, I could see it being something in nature instead of a mechanical/portable device. In the story, prior to the actual beginning of where the book starts, there was an event called the Distortion that basically was an environmental apocalypse. The atmosphere became unlivable and unstable, the animals mutated into predatory monsters, etc. This is what killed the vast majority of people and drove the rest to make new homes in the Sanctuaries. No one initially knows what caused the Distortion, but it turns out later that it was a failed attempt by the aliens to come [unsuccessfully] into our dimension. I like the idea of maybe a wormhole/portal opened up in the spot where the dimensions collided. It could be in a certain part of the forest, like a tree, or in a bottomless lake or something. What do you think? :)
     
  14. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    As for the horrible fates, just check the "Would You Rather" thread in The Lounge :)
     
  15. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    The government wants to use slices of these immortals to cure cancer children and such-like ailments of the mortal populous. The MC would spend 24/7 - aside the infirmary doctors, eventually reduced to the tiny bits you referred to earlier on. So instead she elopes with her 4000 year old boyfriend to the wastelands.
     
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  16. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wearing pink of course. :)
     
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  17. bonijean2
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    bonijean2 Senior Member Supporter

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    You could present the aliens not as a new threat but as an old one. They, being the ones responsible for the rejuvenating gene because their species needs the help of human DNA for their continued existence. The so-called government would essentially just be unsuspecting pawns for the advancement of the alien agenda.
     
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  18. Andrew Rosemel
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    Andrew Rosemel Member

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    I had an idea literally almost identical to this! No joke. Although my Sanctuaries were called Hives. I ended up ditching the idea because I found a published book with nearly the exact same theme. Not to discourage your ideas/plans! Because I'm 100% sure you can pull off your idea, granted it being done correctly.

    I think for the fate, it has to obviously be something threatening to the MC(s) in order to make them want to escape. I agree with the others' in thinking that being stuck in an experimental sanctuary is reason enough to leave. It makes sense, it's practical, but it's a little dull in my opinion. A more sinister threat to your MCs' would be a more climatic and interesting way to lead up to their escape. Perhaps your characters have figured out a secret detrimental to the success of the System's/Sanctuary's survival? But the cost for them knowing the truth is of course a death sentence. That way you have an incentive for both your characters' a need to escape, and your System a need to chase your characters. It doesn't have to be that exactly, but you get the general idea. Maybe fleshing out your System's history, and what it's goals are, might help in narrowing down a connection to your MC(s) and their motivation for escaping. Hope this helped, even if just a little, and good luck with your writing!
     
  19. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    This was most along the lines of what I was thinking. You articulated it better than I did. Could you maybe help me toss around some ideas on what that Main Stake (bad for the MCs, vital to the Sanctuary) could be? That's the part where I keep getting stuck.
     
  20. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I am certainly lost in the plot now. You have pan-dimensional beings that consume human essence that have made a deal with the sanctuary rulers to let them have the immortals, I think it was to save the sanctuary, and the MC has recently discovered that there is another immortal in the sanctuary so they plan to run off together, but you still need a triggering event for them to suddenly want to leave?
     
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  21. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    ^ You're totally right. I overanalyze this stuff way too much. But thanks for putting it so bluntly, it gave me some clarity and made me smile.
     
  22. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I like it. It's simple, makes sense, and it works. But... is that the only one? How do the aliens communicate then? Did the humans learn a way to replicate it on a smaller scale?

    As for the threat to the MCs.... what do they have that they want to save/keep/preserve (besides their lives/freedom)? They obviously don't care much about the Sanctuary itself, so a threat to that won't do much. This is a tough one.
     
  23. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't call it over analyze as much as over complicate. If you were writing a mystery you might want to have multiple issues that could explain or confuse the mystery element, but with a fantasy I think you want to develop a more central theme and just write around it, bring out the importance of the essential element of the story. As an example you suggested having your aliens access humans at a tree or something like that, a more typical approach would be a fire, even biblical reference to it with the burning bush makes it a credible tool that doesn't require any in depth explanation, which would allow you to push on with the story line. My suggestion is to stay focused on your central theme, avoid things that need deep explanation that don't advance your story. Of course I am not a writer just a forum member so take my suggestions with a grain of salt - maybe one of those big sea salt grains at that.
     
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  24. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Thanks. I think you are right.
     
  25. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I was thinking about this last night, and I realized the problem - they're not running from something, they're running to something. Instead of fleeing a horrific fate, maybe they've found information that they need to survive - a scientist who opposes the program, a rebel group fighting the government and/or aliens, or something similar. They get the information and flee the city, the Enforcers hot on their trail - now not only do they have to escape capture,but they have to avoid leading the bad guys right to their new allies (assuming said allies even know they're coming - more conflict!).

    I agree with tonguetied - as long as you know how things work, you don't have to explain it to the reader. As long as it makes sense, it's internally consistent, and it works, who cares? Also, don't be afraid to think up some wild ideas - even if you don't use them, they might help you come up with the solution you're seeking.
     

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