1. Question
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    Question Active Member

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    Is memory loss or amnesia trite?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Question, Jan 11, 2012.

    So I came up with an idea for a novel. I don't want to go into to much of the details but it takes place in a not to distant future. In it I was planning on having my main character not have recollection of an allotted amount of time or maybe even full blown amnesia.(still working with the details) The amnesia isn't really the main focus of the novel, I'm just kind of going to use it to introduce my character. Though I feel like this concept might be overdone. What do you think?
     
  2. Ziggy Stardust
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    Ziggy Stardust Active Member

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    Completely depends on how you write it and what the details are. Why has he lost his memory, how does he deal with it, how does it affect his life, etc. It could work great and make perfect sense, or it could be horrible and cliched. But we won't know until you write it.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Just like with anything else:

    It all depends on how you write, and how you set yourself apart. Everything has already been done over and over again. So I would worry about how you are going to make this different, than worry about whether or not is has been done too much.
     
  4. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    If you make it more realistic, it won't be trite.

    Ways in which real retrograde amnesia (the kind where you lose pre-injury memories, as opposed to losing the ability to make new memories post-injury) differs from the stories:

    * total retrograde amnesia is extremely rare, most people with retrograde amnesia remember some but not all of their life - either a certain time span is lost, or random chunks are lost out of their whole life

    * retrograde amnesia rarely appears in isolation - other neurological issues are usually present as well

    * people who get long-term serious brain injury (including amnesia) don't just get knocked out and awaken with whatever neurological issues they'll have - instead they get knocked out and are in a coma, then a lighter coma, then awaken with a pile of severe issues, and then those issues fade over time. In other words, recovering consciousness is gradual

    * retrograde amnesia can improve in the first six months after injury, but the memories won't come back all in a sudden flood, and their return is due to natural healing, not a dramatic psychologically-significant trigger event - and especially not a second whack to the head, that's like trying to fix a broken plate by throwing it against a wall

    Incidentally, typical fictional depictions of amnesia usually resemble psychogenic fugue more than they resemble amnesia. Psychogenic fugue is a dissociative disorder which occurs when someone with an underlying tendency to dissociation (usually trauma-related) experiences a sudden emotional shock. They typically go off quite a far distance (driving or maybe even taking a plane) while in a trance, and come to their senses miles away with no memory of who they are. Since they traveled so far, usually no one knows them, so their identity isn't immediately discovered (if you came home to find your Uncle Joe confused and insisting he didn't know who he was, his identity wouldn't exactly be much of a mystery). They often recover quite suddenly once they're psychologically ready to face whatever upset them. And they have no memory of the time they spent with amnesia.
     
  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll be honest, I very much dislike the use of amnesia. Memento did it well because it was used as an absolutely brilliant plot device. The (!!!SPOILER!!!) beginning of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus used it well because through the entire story, you're never sure of whether Tony was faking or not.

    Those are rare exceptions where it's used well, though. For the most part, amnesia is just a cheap and tacky trick. It was barely even used well in The Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood; Eric is really only likeable when he has none of his vampire memories. It's stupid for the most part since he's a great character and having him lose his memory only serves to give Sookie a reason to date him. It's a weak plotline.

    So if you've got a strong plotline to go along with it, go for it. But if you're not sure of the strength, the tackiness of such a cheap plot device will only serve to weaken your plot further.
     
  6. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Have you read the works of Philip K. Dick?
     

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