1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Is this a good reason for the protagonist to not be able to call the police?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Dec 12, 2015.

    I want to write a thriller where the main character is on his own, and not able to rely on the police for most of the story. However, I am setting it in modern times, and in the days of cellphones, it's difficult to put the MC in this situation.

    I was thinking that the villain could maybe put a radio jamming device on the MC's car, so that the MC can never use his cellphone, as long as he is always within a certain proximity of the car. However, how long can I keep this going before he figures it out. And there is always the solution of driving to a pay phone, which cannot be jammed, cause it's a land line.

    So I am wondering is that a good idea to keep on using for the plot, or what is the best way to keep the MC from not calling and being forced to take on the villains without help?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I haven't seen a pay phone in a decade. :p

    But you could stop and find someone with a phone. If he was still near his car though it could jam all the phones around.

    The 911 system can crash.

    The police could be non-responsive for various reasons. The cops don't like him. Or don't believe him (he's called wolf before). They could be overwhelmed with a terrorist shooting or other disaster.

    It could take place in a remote area but you'd have to change your story.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I wanted to set it in a city for various reasons. Aside from him calling wolf before I think that might come on as perhaps forced. Like the only reason why you have him call wolf before, is just for that to happen. Plus a 911 operator does not know who cried wolf and who did not. They would despatch units to wherever the call came from. Is everyone on the force going to know about this person who cried wolf before and choose not to respond, even though it's a risk of their jobs?
     
  4. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    How about villain knows who is trying to catch him, threatens his family, protagonist decides to do it in secret.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    But usually in those situations when a person's family is threatened, the person will call the police especially, since they feel they could use the help, no? Even in situations where the person says do not call the police, the person will still call.
     
  6. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    In Castle Kate Beckett leaves her marriage because the people who killed her mother will kill anyone she has involvement with if they find out she is trying to arrest them. Maybe it is just protection.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But in my story, it is far fetched that the villain would know if the police are called. He is more of a serial killer type, and it is not likely that he would have friends in the 911 call operating department. It just seems that the hero may be too gullible to believe that.
     
  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have him call the police, but is thwarted anyways, write on through this dilemma, then edit. Or maybe, say the first policeman to arrive is shot dead on the door step - at the hand's of your hero's gun/his penknife/biro, supposedly...
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But wouldn't having cops be killed just get other police more anxiously involved and draw attention?
     
  10. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, your hero thinks the police are now chasing after him, and so do we, throughout the bulk of story. I would not expect him to give those chaps a call. Murderers are not popular in the force, detective or uniformed. Then later on we discover goodly cops are actually shadowing this entire grubby affair, ready to pounce, save the day, maybe.

    More ideas for your stew.
     
  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I suggested this idea to readers before, but they said it was plot hole, because if cops are in on it, that doesn't mean that the whole force is on it. He said that the hero could still pick a phone and call internal affairs or the FBI, or higher ups. Or he would just to go the police station for protection, and not stay out in hiding. And for the way I want my story to go, I do not want him going to a police station.

    There is no needs to disregard the entire government of police just because a small percentage may be bad, the reader said. I guess the reader has a point maybe?
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't approach it this way - agonizing over holes in my work.

    Remember - reading something and shouting at the character CALL THE POLICE or TELL YOUR DAD. So. feel strong about your writing, believe that you can make the leap, bring these people to life, and then 'folk' might ask 'why didn't Johnny call the police,' rather then the 'why didn't you write him calling the police.' Don't worry about logical sequence so much, 'dice man' a little...

    And recall I've only read the thread once, I don't know everything. :)
     
  13. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    Is the serial killer known to the police? I seem to be giving a few TV examples here but in Gotham there is a serial killer that murders the loved ones of anyone who tries to investigate him, leaving him to freely commit murder every so often. He does it every so often that the police don't bother going after him as he is not committing murder all the time. However, you may just end up basing an entire novel off one episode of Gotham, so maybe not.

    I really can't think of anything else, it's a pretty tricky situation but I would recommend doing what matwoolf said about having people ask why the character didn't call the police, not why you didn't write him calling the police. The only other thing I can think of is having it as a personal grudge or something. Maybe he wants to bring the killer down himself?
     
  14. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. At this point in the story though, he does not have a personal grudge as of yet. He is just an average joe, with no quarrels trying to survive. I can write it so that the readers will say why didn't the character call the police, I just don't have a why as of yet.

    As far as having the hero accidentally kill a cop, I cannot have a dead body turn up for the police otherwise it will send the plot in directions that will not be good. So if I can write this scenario with no dead bodies, that would be preferable, if possible...
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  15. Kit Carruthers
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    Kit Carruthers Member

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    Maybe the police are in on the conspiracy and friendly to the villain...

    Or simpler stuff like he's already an outlaw and can't trust the police. Or, like, he has drugs or illegal weapons or something. Or he's worried about the questions the police may ask him.
     
  16. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the villain is a serial killer type, and therefore cannot have power over the entire force, including internal affairs as well... and the hero is an honest cop who is not a criminal at all.

    If I change the characters though in order to make the hero not call, I feel it may come off as forced though.

    One scenario in particular I want to write is for the killer to lead the cop into a trap. However, how does the killer know that the cop will not bring back up with him, and why wouldn't he? I cannot think of an answer outside of the either the hero being a crook himself, or the villain having control over the force.

    But I would like to find a different reason altogether if possible.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  17. Kit Carruthers
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    Kit Carruthers Member

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    What if the main character does call the police but the villain kills the police when they come?
     
  18. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    If that happens though, and there are officers' down, then the police will send lots more officers, and the hero will have a lot more help (which I don't want), wouldn't he?
     
  19. Aster
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    Aster Member

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    The serial killer is a hacker.

    He hacks every phone your MC tries to use. Every time he tries to call the police, he calls the killer instead.

    Boom.
     
  20. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    You tell me I cannot use my phone, period. You tell me I cannot make any calls to anything resembling police, or my friends, or my family, all or none of which might be in danger.

    Fine. But you're going about it the wrong way. You're trying to physically stop me from alerting any one of those three groups in the middle of a city. I'm going to find any ambulance, fire truck, taxi... anything with a radio capable of directly calling dispatch, and just yelling out the window. Here's my badge, here's my gun, here's a note. Call everyone.

    First, give the hero a real life consequence to breaking a rule. Calling out for help is a dead body. Even if he has no family, or no real friends, he won't be able to accept being responsible for an innocent death.

    Second, keep the guy moving. If he can't call out for fear of a dead body, then any kind of snail mail bread crumbs won't be able to keep up with the guy getting told to hop around a city like a bad mission in Grand Theft Auto.
     
  21. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well in my case, the villains cannot have control over every police force in the country of course.

    What if I wrote it so that the MC acts on his own without back up, without an explanation...? Some stories do that. Since I am writing a screenplay, I tend to use movies to compare since I watch a lot of them. In Lethal Weapon for example, Murtaugh's daughter is kidnapped, and held for ransom, so Murtaugh goes and rescues her. But he only brings his partner, Riggs.

    He doesn't tell anyone else on the force, so he can have more back up. It's not explained why he wouldn't accept more help, the writers just did this cause they wanted the MC's to act on their own against the villains.

    In Point Break, Utah has a theory that the bank robbers are going to rob one last bank, and he has a theory as to which one it is. So he takes his partner with him to steak out the bank. But they don't tell their superiors or anything and therefore, are assigned no back up.

    Plus even when they catch the bank robbers in the act, they decide to chase after them themselves, in a full on car chase, without even calling for back up, even if after they caught them in the act, and they are escaping.

    So what if I wrote it like that, where the MC chooses not to call, for no explained reason?
     
  22. stormr
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    stormr Member

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    Your MC just feels the need to accomplish this on his own. To prove something to himself and to the person (if its a person or people kidnapped) that he can be counted on. Or depending on whether its a comedy or even a little comedy, you can always just have it when the police show up for final arrest, they ask "Why didn't you just call us?" He can answer "Guess I just didn't think about that!"
     
  23. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Oh okay. Well I never thought of him as the type to need to prove something. He is just given an assignment and does it, cause it's his job. But there is nothing previous in the story to suggest the need to prove something I don't think. Is that bad?
     

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