1. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    I could use some help with nailing down the logistics of my MC's stakes

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by FireWater, Jun 27, 2016.

    Hi everyone,

    As the title says, I'm trying to iron out all the logistics of the stakes that my MC would need to avoid/fight back against -- or, in other words, my antagonists' plan. I've been through various options and would like to find the best way to go about this.

    Some need-to-know info about my story:

    - I'm writing a dystopian/sci-fi YA novel that centers around the MC being the subject of an experiment that gave her immortal life. She's biologically in her late teens, and ages very very slowly until she hits her "mid/late twenties" (bio equivalent) and will then keep that physical age forever.

    -The actual experiment took place hundreds of years before the beginning of the novel, when she was biologically a toddler, and now humanity is at its end.

    -There's only a few thousand or so people in the world, and they live in indoor-centers called Sanctuaries. An environmental catastrophe called the Distortion killed off the vast majority of humanity, and the animals that evolved into existence are vicious predators that humans wouldn't stand a chance against if they lived outside of the Sanctuaries.

    -My MC has always thought that she was the only recipient of the Experiment, but it turns out that there's another subject, a guy her age, who has had the same Experiment and is immortal too. The Sanctuary leaders tracked him down outside, where he was living life happily on his own avoiding Sanctuary confinement. She finds out about him, sneaks into where he's being kept, they start a secret relationship and dodge the Sanctuary leaders, blah blah.

    ----

    So here's the logistical part I'm stuck on. At the 20% catalyst point, the two experiment/immortal MCs discover a horrible secret that prompts them to run away, flee from the Sanctuary's tracking agents, and eventually fight back.

    Initially, I was going to have this involve aliens--aliens who want to haul the MCs to their own dimension, to study their immortality and replicate it for themselves and/or leech their energy in order to become immortal, in exchange for not killing the surviving humans in the MC's Sanctuary. But this opened up a lot more logistical complications that I'm having a hard time dealing with, so I'm trying to figure out an equivalent set of stakes that would involve solely humans and the Sanctuary authorities themselves.

    Here's the criteria I'm looking for:

    1) Something where, if the antagonists won, the MC would face a life of horrible isolation and empty, boring loneliness. Before meeting the other MC, her issue was the fact that she was the only Experiment receiver (it took place before the Distortion, before others could get it done too, and she happened to be the first and only), and thus the ONLY person like her, who won't age/die. This opened up loneliness, not only in the romantic sense, but also in terms of friendship and companionship and potential future family.
    In the versions with aliens, she would have been trapped on a planet of non-human "intangible" energy, so basically literally the only human around with no hope of human connection.
    I'm looking for something that would replicate that sense of "I will be isolated, bored and have no kindred spirit or fellowship ever again, if this happens to me."
    Also, something that prohibits her from having any independence or activity or life. Something that's kind of like the equivalent of being hooked up to the tubes in "The Matrix," but she would be aware of it and chronically bored/lonely, without an imaginary illusion.

    2) Something that lasts forever, literally, due to her immortality. Something that's un-doable enough where it wouldn't be a matter of "hey, this sucks, but at some point I'll get out, whether it's in a few days or decades." Something where once it happens there would be no way out (This was why the alien thing initially appealed to me).

    3) Something where the other side would have a legitimate and believable reason for doing it - i.e. it makes sense that the aliens would have wanted to study her in order to determine the cause/success of the experiment so they can replicate it for themselves.

    I'm having such a hard time determining what, specifically ,would be this fate that she's running from. The alien/alter-dimension plan took care of the permanency/isolation requirements, but opened up way too many complications and turned the plot into a giant can of worms. But with limiting it to the humans' world, I don't see where that extremity could come from.

    Anyone have ideas? I will give you "like"/rep points. :)
     
  2. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I think the most important question to start with is 'What sort of immortal are we talking?' - completely incapable of being killed (/indestructible?), or just won't age and die of natural causes (but can be killed)?

    If she's truly immortal, I'm not sure I can really imagine a situation that will 'last forever' for her. She'd basically be the new benchmark for eternity; she'd just have to wait it out and make some effort to escape in the meantime and eventually she would. (However, if she's still got a normal human brain, having to wait that long could very well addle it...)

    The other problem with immortality is that it entirely takes the stakes out of anything where survival is important to the story goal. They're immortal; of course they're going to survive. (But you can set a different story goal, e.g. maintaining sanity.)

    Anyway, ignoring those points of clarification...

    The plotline that occurs to me is that the ruling body within the Sanctuaries wants humanity to be able to leave them, but they need more 'immortals' to have any hope of regaining territory outside (because of the superpredators, etc). Because MC was the (allegedly) only immortal created before the technology (or whatever) was lost, they need to study her extensively. And the requirements of that study are aversive to the MC, hence the dilemma.

    That'd be the skeleton anyway; you could shape in a number of ways depending on the context you put it in (motives for wanting to leave the Sanctuaries, what the study requires, how the MC feels, etc). If it's in humanity's best interest to leave the Sanctuaries, the MC could easily come across as selfish for not being willing to help (depending on the level of sacrifice involved in the study process), but you could also set that up as a libertarian ('the individual matters most') vs authoritarian ('the group matters most') debate.

    Hopefully that gets the ball rolling :) Good luck!
     
  3. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Thank you for the response! :)

    So in my current version (which I am open to changing in order to get un-stuck), the whole "being experimented on by the Sanctuary heads to re-create the immortality" thing is already part of the MC's status quo. She hates it, and being stuck in the Sanctuary going through constant experiments is a miserable fate that she's resigned herself to. But then, meeting a fellow experiment-ee who she can connect with is the catalyst of her starting to have hope of breaking outside and living a free, exciting life with somebody she loves. But, at the same time, there's the threat of something worse and more permanent that would put the fire under their feet in terms of escaping now.

    So I guess I'm looking for something more threatening to the long-term than what she's already going through. Maybe a new type of experiment that would leave her conscious but not physically capable anymore? - like an experiment that would allow the Sanctuary heads to harvest her blood, duplicate her organs, etc. so that she would be brain-alive, but physically kept restrained for permanent medical use, and perhaps even physically split up into multiple physical parts.

    Or, what if they found a way for her to reproduce embryos asexually, and they wanted her to live totally isolated on a space station in preparation for Earth's final demise?

    Any other ideas? :)

    PS: As for the "totally immortal vs can still die by violence" question, I currently have it so she is totally immortal, i.e. would get restored upon physical dismemberment. But I could change this if needed.
     
  4. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    Are the female and/or male humans losing their ability to reproduce? Instead of experimenting on these two immortals, maybe the humans want them as breeding stock. Their offspring would be strong and able to combat normal human ailments, but maybe not be immortal themselves. So the humans plan on keeping the two immortals around to give them babies since she's now reached a healthy breeding age.

    Or did they already try with him and discovered female humans are barren, so now it's her turn? But the two immortals have fallen in love and don't want to share. Once they loosened their control of him, he discovered the secret and so on.

    Being held captive to maintain humanity's population, kept isolated so there is no chance that she could be fertilized by any other male but the most perfect human specimens, determined by the government, would be horrible. In my humble opinion.

    Or something along those lines.
     

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