1. Yochanan Ben Carmel
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    Yochanan Ben Carmel Banned for trolling

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    I am writing a time travel story. Where should I make my characters go?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Yochanan Ben Carmel, May 6, 2014.

    One can only go back 400 years using this machine. You have to stay there for a week before the machine can be used again.

    I would prefer a country where the French, English, Russian, or German languages can be used in an everyday context. A good time to arrive in China would be nice, too.

    The only things I would do is pick up some Crystal Pepsi, invest in Apple and fund those Narnia adaptations from the BBC so they can make the last three books, maybe talk Portillo out of those scandals he got involved in. These are just things I would do, these are not characteristic of Silver. I could think of visiting an economists or authors he loved, but what sort of places could he visit to bring an interesting story? Where should he go?
     
  2. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    400 hundred years from when? What date are they starting from?
     
  3. Yochanan Ben Carmel
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    Yochanan Ben Carmel Banned for trolling

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    Sorry, always thinking from a reference point, forgetting my left or yours. I meant from 2014
     
  4. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    How about visiting Algeria when those pied-noirs were plotting to assassinate Charles de Gaulle?

    For China I'd visit during the civil war. I'd go to some point when Norman Bethune was still alive so he could translate.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Is your time traveller just an ordinary person who stumbles across a time machine, or is this a scientist or historian?

    In other words, what is the purpose of this particular instance of time travel? Is it just to take a look around, or is there some reason your traveller wants to go? Is he escaping from something happening to him here and now? Something that a week away will change? Will the traveller control the destination and time period he/she arrives in (and returns) or will this just be a random shot?

    It helps to focus on this kind of detail before deciding on your location.

    Also - do you want your character to travel back exactly 400 years? Or can they travel back, say, 200 years instead? Are we looking at what happened 400 years ago, or can it be anything that has happened since?

    Interesting. This is fun.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my opinion, you shouldn't just pick random locations. I don't know what your story is about (other than time travel). But everything I've read (and been taught) when it comes to writing an interesting novel says to only write things that move the story forward.

    If you write about him going back in time to, say, the Salem Witch Trials, but it has nothing to do with the story, it will just feel like filler. Like you didn't have anything better to do, so you just threw this experience in there to make the story longer. It doesn't have any meaning.

    If you can take out an entire section of time travel (in this case traveling back to the Salem Witch Trials), and the novel still makes sense without the experience, then don't include it. Any time travel experience your character has should, in some way, relate to the ultimate goal or theme of the novel. Otherwise the experiences have no point.

    I don't know if you've read 11/22/63 by Stephen King. But he deals with time travel in that book. And every time the MC goes back in time, it has a purpose, some effect on the story. I'd look into it if you haven't.

    Again, this is just my opinion. But I wouldn't want to read a book comprised of a bunch of short stories, in essence, pieced together to look like a novel.
     
  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    You sound like you don't have a story in mind at all, just a device. The part you are asking help for is the essence of fiction writing - thinking of an interesting idea and expanding it into a complete story. You should have at least an outline of an idea of why your characters would want to time travel.

    It as if you said "I've had an idea for a thing called a jet airliner". Now tell me where would be cool places to go."
     
  8. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Where should the characters go??????

    Is there a reason to go back in time? How did your MC come to be in possession of this time machine? And why? What is the end point of MC's excursion into the past? If your character doesn't have purpose then you don't have much of a story. And if you don't know where your characters are going, you would have no idea why they would go there.

    What you are asking, to me, seems like one of the basic building blocks of your story. And, if you don't know where they are going, you won't know why. And if you don't know why, you won't be able to tell their story. And, if you have to ask someone else where your character's need to go... It's not your story but someone else's .
     
  9. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    If he wants to buy some Crystal Pepsi and invest in Apple, could he go to the eighties?
     
  10. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    A Sci-Fi should be logical and beliveable. A time machine which can travel back only 400 years is not logical at all. If some scientific fact prevents it from traveling further why exactly 400 yeras? The year is a time measurement unit choosen by the humans and it has nothing to do with the basic physical laws.

    You may either forget the limit (your MC still can choose to travel back 400 years) or state that this period is determined by 4 dimensional spacetime geometry and it's time-like coordinate translates to a more random period (for example 387 years, 163 days, 7 hours and 8 minutes)

    If you don't want to deal with science and want to concentrate on a given historycal setup then limit the time and location of the destination by creating a fixed naturally existing time-tunnel like in the movie "Timeline" (2003).

    The French Revolution would be a good destination, just like the American War of Independence.
     
  11. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're looking for weird historical events for satire....Try the Emu War of 1932 Australia - one of those head-scratching events that makes no sense.

    The Australian military went to "war" with an overpopulation of emus that were hurting farms....and lost. Turns out that machine gun fire doesn't do much damage to a charging emu. Let alone 1,000 charging emus.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu_War
    http://www.emugigs.com/emuwar/
     
  12. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want to do something small, heck yeah the Emu War.

    But if you want something to sustain a novel, have them go to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I (WWII is too overdone so stay away from that one unless you can do it without Hitler controlling America).
     
  13. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    A WWI time travel story would be awesome - it's so overlooked.
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That depends on how far your imagination can carry him.
     
  15. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also there were some really ugly Cold War conflicts that don't always get enough attention and could sustain stories - like the Civil Wars in Mozambique and Angola. Really bloody and seemingly pointless. Also look up what happened in the Central African Republic/Central African Empire under Jean-Bedel Boukassa in the 1970s. That would be a wild time warp as Boukassa was simultaneously brutally repressive and comically absurd by crowning himself emperor.
     
  16. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    A very simple way to explain my writing could be Game of Thrones but with more magic and instead of families (House Lannister, Stark, Tully, Baratheon, etc) the factions are from other timelines of Earth (Death Collegiate, Order of the Flame, Shalestalkers, Guardians of the Gale). The earliest theories for the multiple timeline idea I had would be that sometimes things happen different. WWI was one of the things I wanted to change for one of the timelines where the Triple Alliance won the war.

    That idea never happened. But it could be interesting.
     
  17. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really wish the OP would come back and tell us what he's looking for so people can stop wasting their time posting if it's not helping at all.
     
  18. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    The profile says, "banned for trolling." I guess he/she's not coming back.
     
  19. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    So, guess we can make of this thread what we want. Why would a time machine be limited to such a specific time frame?
     
  20. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    And are we talking just witnessing and not changing? Like, maybe if it's just witnessing it's not actually there and it's just a projection (think: holo deck from Star Trek). Only 400 years back has been cataloged and only that far back can be visited.

    Or maybe it's a law and a mechanic built into the time machine to prevent going too far back and doing catastrophic damage. Things are a bit more definite with changing things >400 years in the past. Now if you went back and kept Julius Caesar from being assassinated, what would have happened? It's too far back to be definite, while we all know what'd happen if Hitler won WWII.

    There's a good movie showing the butterfly effect. It's actually called Butterfly Effect :p
     
  21. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Wasn't crazy about that movie. Ashton Kutcher is not great... His fat goth roomie was cool, tho.
     
  22. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Idea was good. Implementation, not so much. That's a common trend in cinema these days.
     
  23. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol Did that happen recently or am I just blind? :p

    I liked the Butterfly Effect, mostly.. I didn't get why he couldn't keep going back to the same event and fix it better?

    I liked Stephen Kings book 11/22/63. The way the past tried to stop him from changing it was interesting.
     
  24. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    If someone wants to write about time travel seriously, then searching for the following terms on Wikipedia would be a great starting point : Temporal paradox, Bootstrap paradox, Grandfather paradox, Predestination paradox. All of these are already discussed in detail on the net so if you want to dig in, there's a lot of material to read.

    Of course a time travel story does not need to be serious. "Back to the future" is full of logical errors and still works.
     
  25. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    The thing about writing (in my opinion) is that you want to sound like you know what you're talking about and be correct, but it's bad if you keep making the readers google a term or check a thesaurus. So instead of Temporal, Bootstrap, Grandfather, Predestination (unless you explain these in a non-texbook way), use new terms.

    Plus, until time travel becomes real, it's all theoretical. You can do whatever the hell you want with it and in your universe you'd be right.
     

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