1. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    Is it realistic for someone to forget this?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by kburns421, Sep 18, 2013.

    This is integral to my story, so it's important I figure out a different way to go about this now if it's completely unrealistic. I was so busy formulating my idea that I kind of skipped over the fact that this might not make sense until now.

    Let's say a little girl (maybe ten years old) finds a portal to another dimension, goes into that other dimension for an hour or two, meets a little boy, goes back to her dimension, but then years go by and she doesn't find the portal again, even when she goes back to the very same spot. Is it realistic that 1) she would eventually believe it was just her imagination and never really happened, and 2) that the memory would eventually become vague, like a dream you can't quite remember, by the time she's in her twenties?

    More thoughts/details:

    If she tries to tell people after it happens and they all tell her how ridiculous that is or just laugh it off saying she has such a big imagination, would that make it more realistic for her to believe maybe it really was a dream or her imagination?

    Also, would it make it seem more likely for her to believe it were a dream if I said the place she found the portal is in a place where it would be very easy to fall asleep and where people do often fall asleep?

    If she believes it was just imagination/dream, would that make it more likely for her to push it to the back of her mind and forget about it? Because I really want her to forget about it and have it be really vague in her mind, but I'll adjust what I have to in order to make it more realistic.

    Also, just to clarify, all characters are human and this takes place on Earth.
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Just have a look at Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. She finds out near the end that

    she has been there before, and it wasn't all a dream. Or, if it was, she now remembers it and realises the place is real (although that could be argued).

    So yes, I absolutely believe that she wouldn't remember it. For starters, is it normal for someone to find a portal leading to another dimension? Erm...no. When everybody ridicules her and tells her she's talking rubbish, eventually she's going to think that herself. For example, my grandmother's brother always said that she was stupid. Till the day she died, she thought that she was stupid. She really wasn't, but thought she was. The same could happen in your story.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I would say it depends on the age of the girl and her personality. If it needs to be believable and you make it believable it will be.

    I vividly remember that I often got confused with dreams and reality when I was fairly young.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I think it is plausible, especially if she never found it again. If you want, you can also keep in mind that, as far as I know, we haven't yet actually found any portals to other dimensions, so who's to say what sort of effects that journey in and of itself might have on the brain and memory?
     
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  5. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies!

    That's exactly what I was thinking about, the way people tend to believe things about themselves if they are told it enough. And thanks for the example! It was perfect.

    Well she is only going to be about ten or so when it happens, so I thought that might help. And I'm working on making her character and the plot in a way that it will be believable for her to forget. I think it'll work because when she's younger she has a lot more belief but ends up becoming so pressured to take the practical, logical route in life that she kind of loses that magical, belief part of herself as she grows up.

    That's a good point, too. I can use that to my advantage when I get to the closing of the portal part (which is fairly soon, actually).
     
  6. GHarrison
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    GHarrison Senior Member

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    I don't think anyone would forget something like that experience at 10 years old. As a kid (as I'm sure others did) I would actively search for just this kind of supernatural thing.

    Especially if she met someone inside. She would most likely always wish she would find it again, despite the non-believers.

    This was the basic idea in the first episode of Dr. Who season 4...
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with @GHarrison, though I also think you could make it believable because people are different. I was also going to point out the thing that she met someone, that kind of makes it more memorable, to me anyway... Weird stuff tends to stick.
    On the other hand, if she was e.g. ill during the time (high fever or something) she might even herself think later that she imagined it all?
     
  8. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    I was already writing this when you responded, KaTrian, so I'll quote you both since I don't know how to mention on this forum.

    Ok, good, dissenting opinions. I can definitely see how someone could remember it, but isn't is possible that someone else might forget it? Everyone is different, and I do remember learning something psychological about how people tend to believe what others say about them if they are told it enough. That's why, if a child is told he is stupid all the time, he will often grow up to believe he is stupid. And honestly, I do have vague memories that I'm not sure whether they happened or not, whether they happened to me or something else, etc.

    I was going to have my MC keep going back and looking for it for a while, maybe even months, but slowly she'd start checking less and less until finally giving up when she never finds it. Combine that with people telling her it was just a dream/her imagination and with her upbringing and pressure from her parents who really suppress the dreamer/believer/risk taker in her (this aspect is going to be a big part of the story). And she never completely 100% forgets about it, but she doubts whether it was real. Does that make it more believable?

    I think it would be possible for me to write the story so that she still remembers what happened pretty clearly, but right now it's necessary to the story that she doubts whether it ever really happened. I mean, ultimately I could probably figure out how to change that without destroying the story, but I'd prefer not to.

    So my question to the two of you is, is it more plausible if she remembers clearly enough what happens but doubts whether it was real when she's not able to find it again? And if maybe she just doesn't think about it as much? Or do you still find that implausible? She's also eventually no longer going to be in the area where the portal was once she reaches maybe high school age, so she won't have the visual reminder.

    You mentioned having a fever, KaTrian, and I'm kind of mulling that over in my head. I don't really want her to be ill during this part. The best I could do is that she could easily be hot and tired in this scene, and I could throw in a broken AC or something, haha. Even though, as a kid at the time, she would probably just think, "I wasn't hot and tired!" it might eventually lead her to believe the heat just got to her.
     
  9. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    I think that if she's to forget about it ever happening, she should be told (and tell herself) that it was a dream/confusion immediately after she returns to reality, with no time for her to even start hoping she could experience it again.

    And I agree that at 10 she would be old enough to understand the difference between dreams and reality, and to remember a lot; the younger you make her the better for plausibility. If she was 5 or so, she's more likely to lose the memory among dreams and fairy tales.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on her personality - some would give in to the pressure and reduce her belief to just a dream, other would stubbornly insist against all odds. I think both are plausible, though I fall in the latter category. Sounds like you have a rather sad character if she loses that magical part of herself, it sounds a little like my dream to be an artist and/or writer. All my life my parents have told me to not even bother because, even though they believe I'm good, such careers are impractical and worryingly unrealistic. Well, still working on my book now lol. But I can't say I didn't try to give it all up.
     
  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To me it looks like you already know that you can do this credibly, and I think that will, eventually, make it credible. You can get the wildest idea in the world and sell it. Sure, some might still say "that'd never happen!", but hopefully they'll be in minority.

    What I'm thinking here are those stories and fairy tales where some old person recounts a story from their childhood, how they went to some magic land or saw something very strange (like a unicorn in the woods, or a UFO in the sky). They carry that story inside them, yet they might never go back looking for that unicorn or door to Mushroom Land. Maybe they, indeed, told their parents and friends about it, and no one believed them, but it doesn't necessarily make them forget. Perhaps they'd remember it even better because such frustration would be attached to that memory, of trying to recount such an incredible event to the people closest to you.

    But I suppose it could go the other way too. Like I said in my previous post, we're all different.
    You said this is needed for your story to happen, so you can't really do away with it, can you? Just put yourself in her shoes and make her forget (or "forget") :)
     
  12. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Maybe not forget, but push to the back of her mind and discredit the reality of the event. I'd believe that.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Research has proved memories are often unreliable. False memories have been successfully implanted in a fair percentage of subjects in controlled experiments. A bigger problem is how few people believe their memories are that unreliable. However, it's a more commonly held belief that people repress bad memories. While it can happen, it's extremely rare. People have been falsely convicted based on the testimony of supposed victims with supposed recovered memories. Sadly, despite the very convincing scientific evidence that these 'recovered' memories are much more likely to be 'implanted' memories, many people don't believe implanted memories are possible. Personal experience is such powerful evidence to us, it's hard to accept that is often a flawed means of determining truth.

    The Nature of Real, Implanted, and Fabricated Memories for Childhood Events: Implications for the Recovered Memory Debate is one example of many such studies.


    But the bottom line for your story, readers will likely easily accept a child with such an experience could grow to doubt it happened. I wouldn't worry too much about certain personalities being more or less likely to doubt one's memory of an event. I can't imagine a reader distinguishing between accepting child A coming to doubt a past event while child B just doesn't have the personality to doubt her past.

    So I'm in the 'yes' column, it is realistic for a character to forget or dismiss such an event. Perhaps it's a little more plausible she'd recall it was a dream, rather than forgetting it all together.
     
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  14. GHarrison
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    GHarrison Senior Member

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    She would have to be portrayed as being in denial of the event, which may seem forced. If that fits with her character maybe it would suspend the disbelief that readers like me would have about it, but I'm afraid this may come off as a bit contrived. Maybe if the story began about her denial, and then the fantasy portal memory was revealed later on as the source?....
     
  15. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    I had thought about the fact that memories are unreliable, but, as you said, most people, myself included, tend to think their memories are not unreliable. That being said, I do have some memories that, when I think about them, I kind of go, "Did that actually happen?" because I was young and they seem a little fuzzy or don't completely make sense.


    I appreciate all the answers. So far, it seems the general consensus is that it is most plausible for her to remember it happening but eventually doubt whether it really happened or not and that how I write it is also, obviously, a big factor in believability. That works because I don't want her to 100% forget, and I don't want her to 100% decide it never happened. I just need her to doubt and not think about it much as she gets older.

    I just thought of something else. Sorry for being so vague, but the place she finds the portal is a place she goes a lot, and she does tend to do a lot of daydreaming and thinking while relaxing, somewhat cut off from the rest of the world while there. I didn't think to mention this before because it was more in my head about her character than in the story. But if I include it in the story, now does it seem more plausible she might think maybe it was just a dream?
     
  16. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    You can even go further and describe, apart from this event, some of her daydreams that happened there. Especially if you want the reader to be, at some point, unsure whether the event was real.
     
  17. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    I was contemplating showing a daydream or two (if I could incorporate it without seeming boring or irrelevant) to let the reader know the character a little more, but the reader is going to know the event was real. However, I'm getting more into the idea of keeping this more limited third person and keeping the reader in the dark. I'm going to keep this in mind and think about it before I move on with the story.
     
  18. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    I generally concur that it would be easy for the girl, under the circumstances, to believe she was dreaming or to completely forget the whole incident.

    But let me put the question this way: How much do you remember that is 15 years ag0? [Only works above a certain age! ;) ]

    Speaking for myself, (let's see now... 15 years ago... that puts me in the year... 1997, hmm... that's not so long ago, actually!), I actually do remember most of the stuff that happened back then that was the slightest bit extraordinary. Perhaps a better way of going at it would be to ask "what did I remember in my 20s from the time when I was 10?". That's obviously much more difficult to answer (time machine, anybody?), but I think the answer would still be - quite a lot.

    I don't know if this goes for everybody, but I suspect that I remember things more the more I was emotionally aroused at the time (whether in a positive or negative way). I'm sure entering a different dimension would have made such an impact on me that it would be very hard for me to forget such a thing, no matter what people told me about it later.
     
  19. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I think it would be unlikely for her to forget the event. However, I don't think it's nearly as unlikely that she would allow herself to be convinced that it didn't happen. You'll have to keep what kind of personality the character has, however. If you're developing an extremely independent, imaginative child, it would be much harder for her to be convinced that this was all just in her head, until, perhaps, much later in her life, when she says, "I had such a wild little mind; I must have been imagining things!" This would be a situation where her continual trips to the portal's location, only to find a lack of a portal, would play more of a role.

    To the contrary, if this is a child that just sort of think mama and daddy's words are gospel is going to be much easier to convince, and this would likely cut back the number of times that she goes to search out the portal.

    The plausibility of your explanation is going to depend largely on how it relates to your character's personality. Throw two entirely different people into identical situations, and they're likely to come out of it differently.
     
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  20. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think both points you put are plausible. I've had memories which I've forgotten but only vaguely retained because I remember remembering them at a later age. Also, if the portal doesn't reappear again, there's nothing to reinforce that memory as being true. As she grows up, she'll have other things occupying her time and thoughts. She'll "move on" but something might spark her thinking about the portal again. However, I don't think an hour's visit would make as lasting an impression vs. as if she'd been there longer (i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia).
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I recall burning my arm at the age of 4, my dad slamming on the brakes and me cutting my head that needed stitches around a similar age, I remember when my dad broke his leg and when I fell off a horse. Those are the easiest to describe but I have other memories that don't involve any trauma like my sister's really smelly depilatory cream she used on her legs and the dozen prom dresses and satin shoes she filled my closet with one day. Things that are significantly memorable can be recalled sometimes through one's entire life.
     
  22. Thomas Kitchen
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    I, however, do not have that. I am 19 and I remember almost zilch of what happened to me even 10 years ago. My memory is poor, and I'm sure I'll have some sort of memory problem someday - seriously. So while I take your point - it is personal experience, after all - I still believe that people's brains and memories are vastly different, and function contrary to one another.
     
  23. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Depends on how much she cared about the boy. When I was 10, I was in love (really, I was) even though I didn't see him that often. But I still have more vivid memories of him than of the kid who sat next to me in class every day.

    Well, that was actually 3 years ago so....
     
  24. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    I have a memory from the age of three. One fleeting memory. And some other memories from my young age. But there are so many other moments that I don't remember, and I'm pretty sure some of them felt significant at that time. Not everything get stored.

    (On the other hand, I have a very poor memory. I forget important things all the time.)
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Actually, with rare exceptions people can recall very little from years back. My point was only in regards to specific events. Not sure how you define significant, but I think entering a portal to another dimension would be 'off the scale' significant which is why I brought it up. And of course people are different in this respect.

    Just reading this reminded me of the boy down the street I had a crush on. I can remember being in his backyard one day. He had rigged up a bobby trap that brought a load of rocks down from above a doorway if you triggered it and I remember later he told me his mom made him disassemble it. She did ironing for income and I can see her ironing in the living room in my memory. That triggers other memories of my neighbors at the time.

    I wonder if even those of you who don't recall much, if anything, can remember a few things when somethings triggers a memory.


    Again, of course people are different.
     

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