1. Silvertide
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    Silvertide New Member

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    Help with important plot element

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Silvertide, Aug 4, 2015.

    Alright, so I'm writing story right now, and I pretty much already decided on how things would work, but now that I joined this forum I figured that I'd double check.

    In my story, a character has to die, but in a certain way. The character, a female, is hiking down a mountain with a male companion. She has to die on this mountain, but she can't have any horrible injuries. And she can't die by starvation because it has to be once and done, not something that takes a long time. Falling off a cliff would leave her with her head cracked open and she'd be mangled. If she hits her hand on anything it'd probably crack open. I was thinking she could slip into a water source heading down the mountain, hit her head, pass out and drown, but that's just too far-fetched and plus the male companion would surely save her.

    If you want to know why she needs to remain in one piece, it's because she has to revive soon after, without the male companion becoming suspicious. She has to die, and the male companion can't be sure if she's dead or not, and by the time she revives he won't even think about the possibility that she had died. If she cracks her head open on a rock, and she wakes up as good as new even after such a serious injury right after, he will know soemthing supernatural had just happened. Minor wounds are okay though, like she could bleed from somewhere, as long as it isn't too obvious, and sustain various other injuries. It just can't be obvious that she received fatal injuries and still lived.

    So after a lot of consideration, I decided that the girl would have to get bitten by an animal that has a lethal poison. But as I looked around, I realized that there were no snakes or spiders in the United States, where this story takes place, that could effectively kill her. Some of the spiders only had a 10% chance of killing someone under a certain age, and the girl is above that age. Other bites from spiders just make you terribly sick. There were no snakes either that could effectively kill.

    Perhaps she could eat a poisonous plant, but for someone who lives right next to a mountain, I think she'd know what plants are which. And she wouldn't eat random mountain plants anyways, she's heading home for dinner.

    So I decided on a spider that is not native to the area, in fact it's from Australia. My friend told me that it isn't uncommon for people to smuggle in illegal animals. So the story is that the spider escaped and just happened to come over and bite the girl. It's a far stretch, and that's why I still feel so uncomfortable about the idea. The history of the spider is of course never revealed in the story. They simply say, "She was bit by a spider and died." But it still bugs me.

    So if you can come up with a better idea than an escaped, smuggled in spider happening to cross paths with said character, please, share.

    Another problem I have is if the setting (yes I know this isn't the board for settings, but I'm not developing a world or anything here) is okay or not. I'm not very specific about the time or location in which this story takes place, because it's not important. The location is an isolated town nestled in a small valley in a heavily forested mountain range. They don't get much contact from the rest of the world. I made this place up, but is it too far fetched or does it work out fine?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Diablo101
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    Diablo101 Member

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    On the contrary, In Australia, people live on mountains, and they still have no idea what plants are safe to eat and which are not. A random spider, biting her, yeah a little far fetched. I was actually liking the idea of drowning down the stream. If the man is not with her, then I suggest stick with a drowning (Im an action fan) In Australia, More people are prone to drowning than, snake/spider bites, so it is probably more realistic for a drowning. (Seriously, here more people get bitten by sharks or stung by bees with a fatal allergic reaction than a venomous spider bite)

    I also haz a random 2 minute thought
    She goes to the flowing river, fresh water, and goes in to get a drink, have some heavy winds or something and a branch knocks her out (You know flying branches in storm season? doesnt need to be raining or lightning, because seriously who wants to walk on a mountain in the rain? -.- but something a little less severe than hurricane winds for example), she travels downstream and drowns. She revives, and you continue on with your story...

    Also the setting, is it physically isolated? electronically isolated? Like does this town have a good understanding of the outside world that people learn through the internet? Or do they know and the place is just physically isolated, so any emergency services wouldnt get there for... who knows how long?

    As I said, I prefer the drowning than the spider bite...
    Hope this helps, and I hope it makes sense... Sorry for the quick suggestion, wasnt polished just out of my head in a minute :p
     
  3. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Struck by lightning? Heart attack/stroke/deep vein thrombosis?
    Chokes on a sandwich? Trips, falls face down, drowns in a small puddle of water?
     
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  4. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Severe allergic reaction to something she thought was safe to eat on the mountain? (Guy ate it too but isn't allergic, so reader knows it isn't poison.) Or she is bitten/stung by something normally non-lethal, but she has an allergic reaction (bees, for example.)

    Guy wanders off to look for a place to camp/something to eat (he doesn't think he is going that far) and she sees a bear or some other dangerous animal. In an effort to get away, she trips and hits her head falling into a stream, knocking her out and thus fulfilling your scenario? The guy could come looking but be so distracted by the animal that he doesn't realize she has fallen in until it's too late to revive her, despite his efforts.

    I also agree that the Australian spider idea is a little too far-fetched.
     
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  5. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Anaphylactic shock does not require a deadly insect -- just one you are very allergic to. Could be a bee, wasp, etc.
     
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  6. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    The common incident there is leaving a soda can unattended, wasp goes in, attracted to sugary scent, person then drinks, wasp ends up in throat and stings person, anaphylaxis sets in, throat swells shut, person dies, pretty quickly.
     
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  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Speaking as an Australian, your smuggled spider story doesn't fly :D

    You may as well kill her with a meteorite o_O
     
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it was a swift moving river, she could easily be swept up and drown without the man being able to save her.

    Since you don't have much about the setting, you could also play with cold weather and have her die from that. Since it's in the mountains, you could easily have a random snowstorm halfway through (mountain weather is unpredictable). And, she'd look like she's sleeping, so he could easily feel "mistaken" when she resurrects.

    Poison plants is another thing. Maybe she confused a poisonous plant for something she thought she knew. This website details several poisonous plants and their safe counterparts. The third one is actually commonly mistaken for a safe plant used to make tea. Ingesting it can cause cardiac arrest. Mild symptoms are everything you'd expect: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. So she could easily assume she just ate something bad without knowing what caused it. Cardiac arrest could happen overnight, the man wouldn't know it happened since there's no visible signs, and she'd be resurrected. Voila!
     
  9. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    My only issue with this would be, someone who lives in a natural environment (the mountains) would typically be aware of their potentially deadly allergy to a bee or wasp. Knowing this, they'd probably not go hiking without an epipen.
     
  10. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    You don't take an epipen until you find out you are allergic :D
     
  11. dreamersky1212
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    dreamersky1212 Active Member

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    There is a pool of water, they go swimming. She dives and cracks her head. She and he think that she just went unconscious for a minute, maybe has a concussion. But what she really did was break her neck.
     
  12. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    But again, an adult who lives in the mountains would likely have been stung by a wasp or bee before and would know she was allergic.
     
  13. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Likely, but not certainly. My husband has never been stung by a bee or wasp in his life (I am baffled by this, I've been stung many times) so we'd have no idea if he were actually allergic. We do live in a mountain region and spend a lot of time hiking. It might ask a bit of faith on the reader's part, but it's less a stretch than a smuggled Australian spider.

    EDT: Maybe, if she knows she is allergic, her epi-pen gets lost along with some other things earlier in the hike. The guy discovers this as he's searching for it to try to save her.
     
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  14. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like many others above, I also consider an allergy to a bee or wasp sting to be plausible. It could be that she has only brought 1 epipen, but gets stung early on. This reveals her allergy to the reader, and it doesn't come out of the blue later on.

    Then she gets stung again while they're separated.
     
  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if she has a congenital heart defect?
     
  16. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Not necessarily. Allergies develop with repeat exposure - the first time/s you encounter the allergen you have the same response as anyone, because your immune system isn't familiar with it yet. "It can't be an allergy: I've had X before and I was fine" is one of the biggest misconceptions about allergies.

    Most ideas mentioned (or that I can otherwise imagine) either aren't rapid or require a preexisting condition, incredibly bad luck (e.g. your Aussie spider, not that I think this fits the bill anyway...), or something that is likely to also affect whoever finds her. However, I think @Aaron DC 's wasp-in-drink-can idea is great. She wouldn't even need to be allergic; a sting will still swell and potentially cause respiratory failure if it's in the wrong place (and if a wasp is inside your body, is there really a right place?). Very plausible because it's exactly what wasps do, and it could happen to anyone not paying 100% attention to their drink - nature's roofie.

    Toxic plants are an option, but I think most people would be very careful about what they eat. Have you considered oleander? (The fourth one on the website Lea linked - Nerium is the genus name.) It contains cardiac glycosides, which humans are very sensitive to, and it doesn't have to be ingested: the toxins are volatile. There are stories (perhaps apocryphal) of people dying just from sitting on leaf litter under trees. Yet it's quite widespread, even in gardens because it's pretty (you'd have to check if it's in the area of your setting.) I suggest consulting Wikipedia.

    Finally, as you're questioning the setting anyway... why not just set it somewhere convenient? E.g. if you have your heart set on an Australian spider, set it in Australia.
     
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  17. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    No deadly spiders here mate.

    No?

    Yeah nah. Deadly snakes ate 'em all.



    Seriously though, snake would be better than spider. Our deadly spiders tend to not be wanderers, and prefer dark places -- not out in the sunshine where you'd be hiking. Snakes on the other hand, being cold blooded, love to warm up in the sun, and prefer rocks and logs that are often stepped / sat on / over by hikers.

    If you want a deadly spider that's likely to be out and about and aggressive, place the story in Central / South America, where you'll find the Wandering Spider. https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=wandering+spider
     
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  18. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Those spiders also provide the country entry vector: they are known as banana spiders, catching rides around the world in banana shipments.
     
  19. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I live in a mountainous area here in the U.S. and we have poisonous snakes. There are cottonmouths and copperhead snakes.
     
  20. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    What causes her recovery? If it is a supernatural event then many things could happen. For instance several years ago Natasha Richardson died after merely falling in the snow, bumping her head, no obvious injuries, it took a few hours but it could be quicker. While hiking it is easy to slip and fall, you try to fall in a controlled fashion but some slippery leaves can negate your best effort and hitting your head on a rock can cause a blood clot which could lead to death.

    It is the recovery part that is confusing, few deaths are temporary but it does happen, the saying "dead ringer" was for people that were buried because everyone thought they were dead, but just in case, they would run a string down to the casket and if the person revived, they could pull the string. They started doing that when they exhumed some bodies and found the deceased had clawed at the lining in the casket.
     
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  21. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Doesn't really matter, but I've heard that this attribution for the phrase is actually untrue (same for "saved by the bell"): If you trust these debunkings

    Anyway, I assumed OP was after a "sudden death", as miraculous recovery after a long, drawn-out deterioration would be questioned more by another character. Snakes vary a lot in the types of venom they have (especially between continents) and some can cause fairly quick death, but I don't think it's sudden per se, and something would obviously be wrong in the meantime. Even with the Aussie ones; ditto spiders. Drop bears, on the other hand, kill very quickly... but there'd be no hope of resurrection. Not in one piece anyway.

    A bump on the head and brain haemorrhage could do it. You'd need to contrive some reason why there's no other sign of trauma, although it's possible. I think you'd get more drama out of suffocating to death from an internal wasp sting though. Imagine that: spectators would just assume you'd been uncoordinated while drinking, spluttered and choked for a bit, then recovered (depending on how quickly the resurrection kicks in). Or having a sudden heart attack "out of nowhere" from taking shade under an oleander tree. If the male character didn't witness the brief heart attack, he'd either recognise the plant, pull her away and she'd "recover" ("That was close!"), or she'd just "wake up" and look like she'd been napping.

    Understanding how the brain is damaged by trauma might help imagine something. You can have coup injuries from where the skull hits the brain at the point of impact, but the impact can also cause the brain to bounce and hit the skull on the opposite side, which is a contracoup injury. The latter are often worse.

    Overall, brain injury is more likely when you don't see it coming: if you have time to react at all, usually you tense up neck muscles, etc, which helps dissipate the force elsewhere. If you don't want outward signs, you'll need something concussive, but not abrasive (like a fist inside a boxing glove... hmm...).

    So overall, you probably want something fairly soft, but with plenty of force behind it, hitting her with as little warning as possible. Maybe a half-rotten tree branch drops from above?

    Ah well, just my thoughts. I'll tap out now.
     
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  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fall.

    Non-disfiguring head injury.

    Subdural hematoma or other brain injury has occurred, but is not immediately apparent.

    Apparently mostly fine, hiking down toward medical help.

    Death.

    Something similar to this happened to Natasha Richardson. :(
     
  23. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    And the altitude gives her cardiac arrest...
     
  24. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    You could also take her hiking with a pre-existing condition like a DVT and cause a heart attack or stroke mid-hike?
     
  25. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Long QT syndrome.

    http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/long-qt-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

    I particularly like "Long QT syndrome is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young, otherwise healthy people"
     
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