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  1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    How to break into a city protected by a giant wall?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mallory, Jul 26, 2011.

    My MC and her companions have reached the city they've traveled to, and now, they're about to sneak into it. It's protected by a giant wall, akin to the Berlin Wall/Great Wall of China/etc.

    However...it's not an ancient setting by any means. It's a very high-tech place, marked by surveillance, cameras, guard towers, etc. It's a fantasy city that's supposed to be extremely Orwellian, more so than the characters are used to, as they're from the wilderness areas where things are set back 100s of years.

    Is there any way I can do this besides having them just dig a hole? Also, might they stay hidden once they cross - wouldn't there be guards who are on alert and ready to shoot?

    I know it's a fantasy and all but I still want to make it believable. I think if it's too easy for my characters to get in, that creates a plot hole - why haven't more invaders succeeded, and why haven't more people within the city gotten out?

    Any ideas are deeply appreciated, and I give +rep.
     
  2. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    Would it not be possible that a criminal organization would be able to provide access to this city, including documents and such, for a fee?
    Or perhaps something happens inside the city that distracts guards and sentries, giving your characters the chance to sneak in undetected?
    Maybe your characters find a blind-spot in the defenses and get in that way?

    If it's a large city, which I'm guessing it is, then it will have a lot of traffic going in and out. Even if people from outside the city are barred from going in, the people inside the city still need food and other supplies in large quantities. All your characters have to do is hide among potatoes and corn until they pass the city threshold.
     
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  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks!

    I'd also like to add that the city is run by totalitarians who don't let its people outside, but they are fine with that as long as it's "for their safety." Think of the proles from Orwell's "1984." There are some good people there, too, of course, but my protags haven't met them yet.
     
  4. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your premise is a little like mine, minus the wall and fantasy elements.

    I think every such wall has one or more access point; the Berlin wall certainly did. Yes there were guards stationed there, but still people made it across on occasion. So if you have an mc with smarts, think of ways they could infiltrate or outmanoeuvre them tactically.

    In my case, a woman from the rural territory makes it into the capital city. I have it so that she never explains exactly how she managed that, only hinting that she hitched a ride with someone from the Government. It's only near the end of the book that more about that is revealed.

    So I'd make it seem 'difficult' to get in, point out that many have tried and failed. Or even have an example (an 'expendable' character?) who doesn't make it in.

    I don't know. Just a couple of thoughts. :)
     
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  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I can definitely "use" an expendable character. :) And that's a great idea, but I just have to figure out the method they use in the first place lol.

    I think I'll have it so that only one character gets in, then returns to get the others in by stealing a guard uniform and posing as someone authorized. I've got that part figured out, it's just how does she get herself over I'm struggling with.
     
  6. heather_ashcraft
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    heather_ashcraft Member

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    oh i could indeed come up with many scenarios..but it worries me what your asking and the nature of what you described considering the 1 and a half page story preveiw of mine i sent you
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    My story is nothing like yours. I started this months ago and I have come across no mention of a city wall yet in your story. Mine involves a teenage girl who gets transported to an alternate dimension, then has to help fight off a hostile alien invasion there, and she's breaking into the secret city to search for clues. :)
     
  8. heather_ashcraft
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    heather_ashcraft Member

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    ah,i suppose a rough coincidense then...

    though the logical flow of events from what i mentioned in the story preveiw bears a striking resemblance..

    bah,its probably just me...its possible that there are alot of people concerned enough about this sort of thing to write about it now days
     
  9. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    Keeping a low profile in a high-tech city would be a problem, I'd imagine, especially if your characters are easy to tell apart as outsiders. They'd probably need someone familiar with the city to do the talking, and to give them a city-style make-over. Plus they'd need a place to stay. Plus, if the characters are intending to stay in the city for a while, they'd probably want to make arrangements before going into the city.

    An underground crime network seems like the easiest way to solve the problem. Or anyone who helped them get into the city could also sort out the living arrangements.
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Heather, I finished reading your draft and sent it back with my comments - again, there was no mention of anyone sneaking over a giant wall, so I'm not sure where you're getting this. And even if there was, it would be a coincidence. I don't steal other people's ideas. I've been writing fiction for almost 20 years. I have plenty of ideas of my own.

    MRD - I agree with you that the ability to stay low-profile is pretty crimped. As far as hotels, they don't really need one, they can hide and be homeless in the impoverished parts of the city.

    The only thing I'm stuck on with that is the fact that, while outside the city walls, how would they be able to get the attention of people in the network within the city?

    Her companions' parents were involved with an underground freedom fighter group within the city, so there's definitely those connections there, but my MCs have no way I can think of to arrange logistics with them: it's not like they have cell phones.
     
  11. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    No walled city is an island as they say.
    It must (unless it's absolutely autarkic which is pretty implausible) have some intercourse with the wilder world...supplies of raw materials, foods, professional services..whatever..so your folks can masquerade as one of those sorts ..maybe hijack a trader on his way to the city etc

    Sounds a bit prosaic mind you... The bribery of guards with a) sexual favours or b) promises of rep points on an obscure internet forum should be given weighty consideration.
     
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  12. [Insert imagination here]
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    [Insert imagination here] New Member

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    You could have someone approach them. Maybe they're not particularly discreet in discussing there ideas for getting in to the city and the organisation hears of it, or maybe they just have lots of bling and someone approaches them to make a deal.
     
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  13. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    Supposing the wall is guarded at an entry/exit point is there a way someone on the inside could know your MC from years ago? Maybe they are silly enough to be tricked, loyal enough to turn a blind eye, or would your MC be ruthless enough to take advantage of a moment of their weakness?
    Would your MC allow another character to be a distraction and get brutally destroyed trying to enter then to follow them in without raising the alarms (they would already be going crazy). Having a very harsh punishment may be the reason people don't try getting through anyway.
    Otherwise, if time is not an issue they could do a 'mastermind' type deal on watching the security and finding a moments weakness. Perhaps one of the security guards that takes a few seconds longer on his routine, blips in camera updates or a fault in some kind of electrical leaving a very narrow gap to squeeze in between sensors.
    If sensors are used at gaps in the walls (maybe there as escape/trading passageways for those inside) maybe there is some plant or something natural that the sensors can't pick up and some wierd circumstance happens where the MC works it out and then can build some kind of barrier for themselves to sneak in behind/under?
    Okay, thats enough of me rambling.... hope it doesn't sound too random or tacky :) Sometimes it's worth rambling (a little) as someone somewhere may get some spark of inspiration from the nonsense that flows out :D
     
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  14. heather_ashcraft
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    heather_ashcraft Member

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    have you ever considered a home made electromagnetic pulse weapon,considering that this is spost to be a high tech setting...even a small one could knock out enough surveillence to create a small breach of your choosing

    (also i apoligize if you simply forgot to tell me that you were sequestered and it would take a while...im an extremely paranoid person...as the gallon or so of coffee i drink per day would imply)
     
  15. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    How about messenger pigeons? Or having one or two of the freedom fighters outside the city, with access to the main group.

    Or, if you wanted to, you could give the companions the means to contact the freedom fighter hub. Have the parents give them that information. Then again, it is your story, so you'd know what is and isn't possible. I'm just throwing stones in the dark here.
     
  16. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a good idea. A couple of them could be outside the city and working on extending their 'network', i.e. with the long-term plan of establishing themselves as a forceful group.

    They could also then have taken with them technological object xyz, which would make it easier to plan the logistics.
     
  17. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thank you so much, guys! Great ideas all around.

    I'm thinking I'll probably have my girl MC imply that she'll give "favors" to the guard (they watch the gate for a while to pick out the one who seems corrupt), so they go in a supply room or something and she secretly knocks him out from behind, then steals a guard uniform to get out of the guard area unnoticed...does that seem believable?
     
  18. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    Would a the guards patrol on their own, without partners? It's possible, but seems slightly unlikely. Are guards guards switched around so much that it's common to see guards that you haven't met before? If not, then other guards may become suspicious of your MC wearing a uniform. What about when the guard wakes up? Will he report the girl to his superiors, or will he be too worried about being disciplined for not doing his job properly.

    Just some little things to think about.
     
  19. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Crap, those are really good points...I think I'm back to square one.

    This scene is exceedingly hard for me because I don't want to rely on any too-convenient plot devices: i.e. there was a huge distraction in the city that happened at the perfect timing, there was only one guard and he fell asleep, etc.
     
  20. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    You could do the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves thing. Launch your poor characters over the wall with a catapult.

    You could do it the "knock-out" way, just make sure your conscious of the flaws and work your way around them. At night there would be less guards and less visibility, making it easier for your MC to slip through the guard post without drawing too much suspicion (it may be good to have a guard question her, if only to put the reader on-edge).

    As long as you're aware of the loopholes, then you'll be able to work around them.
     
  21. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Maybe nightfall would be better, although it would still be brightly lit. But dark clothing and careful movements would help her a bit.

    Okay, so maybe she gets across, but gets questioned while she's approaching the border: however, she's able to pass off as a scraggly runaway girl who's just homeless in the bad part of town near the city's borders. The other characters see this and deem it's too risky for everyone if they follow, so they send her a signal that they'll wait for her.

    Does that sound plausible? I'm not trying to seek validation or anything...just trying to find the best way to do this. :)
     
  22. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    How would they send her a signal without gaining the unwanted attention of the guards?
    Would she be wearing the same scraggly clothes as the locals, or at least close enough to convince her questioner?

    I'm annoyingly good at picking holes in things, not so brilliant at inventing solutions, though.
     
  23. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    nah those are good points...okay, so she'll wonder what's happening to her friends, and ...


    OOOH I JUST HAD IT POP INTO MY HEAD..... nevermind, things are good there.... :D

    And yeah, she got some convincing clothes from her aunt before they set off.
     
  24. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    So, everything's good story-wise for you now?
     
  25. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Think so. :)

    Thanks to everyone who responded!
     

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