1. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston

    I've written myself into a corner

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by agentkirb, Sep 12, 2011.

    So I'm writing a story and it's getting near the end. And I just realized that the plot that I had planned out might not be plausible. I'll try and explain the situation... just bear with me. And by the way, I leave a LOT of details out because I don't want to give away the ending on the off chance someone happens to read it. So here's the part of the story I'm stuck on:

    It's the year 2000 (might be relevant because technology was slightly different back then), you have a married couple with a 10-13 year old son. The father is married to his job, and that pisses the mother off... and to an extent the son is also disappointed that his father isn't around much. Eventually she just runs off and takes the son with her and doesn't tell him where they are going. Just wants to take a break from the relationship. So she never officially asks for a divorce, but they are separated while she figures things out. And she never tells her son what is going on, so he just thinks they are on vacation (this is actually very important).

    So they go to New York. A week into their "vacation", they are walking down the street and a mugger spots the two of them walking down the street at night. Tries to rob the mother, she fights back... gets stabbed and eventually bleeds out and tragically dies. Of course, the father doesn't know they are in New York and thinks that his wife just wants space, so he doesn't even think she might be missing until about a few weeks later when he still hasn't heard from her. Meanwhile the son, who has no reason to think that the father doesn't know where they are, thinks that he's been abandoned when he doesn't show up to get him after about a week or so. And I guess the dad assumed the son died in the robbery attempt as well (or ran away)... which is why he never tried to look for him.

    Here is where I've written myself into a corner. What happens in the story is that ten years later they meet up again. But the problem is I don't know what I should have the son doing until then. My original idea was that he was put into a foster care system, grew up... maybe went to college even. But it just dawned on me that since the father still exists, it would be on his records... they would find him (and his father is a public figure, so he'd be easy to find) and send his son back. I was going to try to write it as a case where the son just kind of fell through the cracks of the system and that's why they didn't think to try and find other family. The other option is that after the robbery/murder, he just kind of runs away. However, I'd rather not do that because his character in the story doesn't really reflect someone that was a homeless street kid. When he runs into his father again, he's this really smart, really tech saavy person. So I wouldn't know how to go from "homeless street kid" to "guy that can hack into a computer"... which is why I went with the foster kid angle.

    Anyways, I hope I've explained the scenario enough and didn't confuse anyone.
     
  2. Phantomwriter
    Offline

    Phantomwriter Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2011
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    You could still have the run away idea and ends up in the care of someone (like an elderly couple or someone of that nature). And even though they try to ask him where he came from because he feels abandoned he won't give away any information.
     
  3. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    Yeah, that was one of the ideas I thought about. I guess I'll go to that one if I can't think of anything simpler. It would require more explanation, but still a good idea. I would need to come up with a reason why this elderly couple takes him in.

    But I feel I should point out that one of the characteristics of the son is that he ends up being this really tech savvy person that can hack into like a cooporation's database and download surveillance video and data. Originally I was going to explain it away by stating that he was taken in by a foster family and he was already a pretty bright kid when this happened, but they had a computer and he just became really familiar with it... taught himself a lot of things.
     
  4. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    There are youth homes in inner cities that take in kids who live off the streets. Perhaps he's a street kid for a while, then moves into a youth home (it's not juvie or anything, just a shelter/group home), and then someone else there has connections to a hacker, where your protag kid's tech savvy skills come in handy.
     
  5. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    Hmmm... that's also a pretty good idea. So he'll run away, move into one of these youth homes. Perhaps he finds a way to make money running errands for a hacker. Maybe delivering illegal software to people for money (similar to delivering drugs, but with hacking/software involved). Maybe eventually he's been helping this hacker for so long that the guy finally involves him even more in his shenanigans. Over the years he picks up things here and there. And eventually he leaves... for some reason... with enough skills to do his own thing.

    I'd have to iron out the details, but I think that works. Are they called youth homes in New York or do you know if there is a specific name for it? I should probably try and look this up if I can.

    Edit: lol, 2 seconds of googling "new york city youth home" and I got this.

    http://www.covenanthouse.org/youth-shelter/new-york

    I think I'm set now. Once again, thank you all for the help.

    Thanks for the replies you two.
     
  6. MarmaladeQueen
    Offline

    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Cambridge,UK
    I think you've still got the problem that the people runnning the home would try and search out any living relatives he had. He'd have to very deliberately not want anyone to be found - give the home a false ID etc. What's his motive for doing that? The natural thing when his mother died would be to get in touch with his father. What about aunts, uncles, grandparents etc?
     
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I think the only way you could make it work would be for the boy to not want his father to find him. That would require a greater sense of alienation than you've suggested in your OP, perhaps a sense of alienation as great as his mother's (maybe he blames the father for the mother wanting to leave, and hence her death - not a stretch in how a 13 year old might think). Keep in mind that such bitterness would grow over time, not weaken, and that would make any future meeting between the two of them difficult. Now, one idea that occurs to me (since you haven't said what the father does for a living) is to make the father the investigator in a case in which the son is involved in some major illegal computer scam.

    Good luck.
     
  8. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,725
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    How can the son think he's been abandoned? I don't understand why the son wouldn't call the dad, especially when his mom dies. Why not just pick up the phone and call? Why wait a week or two and then assume dad doesn't care about him?

    He'd call his dad, I think. It would be very strange if he didn't.
     
  9. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    That's a good point.

    Hmmm. I guess I would just have to write in some reason for him to not like his father. There's already kind of something there because of the dad working a lot and never being home. He's the loner type and so maybe thought that he would be better off on his own.

    When I googled "new york city youth home" I found the link that I posted and when I went to it it claims that they don't ask any questions. The guy is under 16 so he wouldn't have a drivers license or anything on him to identify who he was.

    Well, I didn't want to go into too many details about the story on the off chance someone finds it on the internet somewhere. But I just found it amusing that you almost guessed those two parts of the plot exactly the way they are in the story.

    But thanks for all of the replies. I'm glad I asked for advice because such a vital part of the story would've had a lot of plot-holes if I had gone through with what I had originally planned.
     
  10. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Don't worry about that. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's what you do with them that counts. Even if you and I were to start with the same idea, the two stories would be markedly different. Just make yours the best it can be. Good luck.
     
  11. cobaltblue
    Offline

    cobaltblue Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2011
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I agree with a PP - if the mom had died and the kid had thought they were simply on holiday with the father's knowledge - the first thing the kid would do after the mom dies is to call his father UNLESS there is some greater obstacle between them already.

    What if the authorities cant identify the kid, maybe he's got some form of autism - while still high functioning, he won't divulge any details on his identity or where he came from... then he'd get put in the system without being linked back to his dad.

    What if the mother had a childhood friend in NY that she had confided in, and after the mothers death she doesn't pass on information on the son to the father? possibly at the request of the kid himself?

    I'm thinking the only way the authorities wouldn't track down the husband after the woman was murdered would be that she had no ID and no one at all (that's willing to talk) knows who she is.

    I think you'd need to work on why the father isn't motivated to track his wife and son down... he assumes they went on vacation and is too wrapped up in his work, but still he'd at some point come to his sense and wonder where they went right? esp. if he treats his wife like a servant he'd notice when she wasn't there taking care of the home and stocking the fridge for him yeah? and at that point wouldn't he give his local police photos of his missing wife and son. He thinks they went on vacation but doesn't know where they went? Did the wife lead him to believe they were going somewhere different? Are the cops looking for the missing persons in the wrong place?

    just some ideas!
    Blue
     
  12. AMasonCarpenter
    Offline

    AMasonCarpenter Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Under the Admin's Delete Key
    Poverty does not equal stupidity. There are plenty of homeless people with amazing skills. Some of us even write novels. The kid in your story was old enough to be a good hacker to begin with, so what is stopping him from finding an old laptop in the trash and continuing to develop his skills. He could steal wifi, get electricity from a plug-in at a park or a library, and steal his software like, well, like a normal person. :) Homeless people don't just sit there being poor all day, they have lives just like everyone else, they just have a different set of logistical problems that people with homes. I have known homeless people that attended university and others that had decent jobs. The only problem I see is if the kid is smart enough to be a hacker, why doesn't he just find his dad?
     
  13. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    I guess I'm confusing you guys. The event that makes him homeless/runaway happens in the past when he's say 10-13 years old... maybe about 10 years ago. And then we fast forward to the present and it's established in the plot that he's good with electronics/hacking. So obviously he had to learn it somewhere. I would agree with you that if he was already good at hacking it's nothing to find stuff to develop skills even more.
     
  14. Shauna
    Offline

    Shauna New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Perhaps the child finds refuge in a library. All the information he could possibly want is located there and it is free. However, this does not solve the problem of access. If he had access to computers and internet and email, blah blah blah...why didn't he contact his father and tell him where he was? This is a big sticking point. There must be some emotional reason why he doesn't do so. Perhaps he is traumatized by the attack in some way, psychologically, that inhibits him from following through with the contact. Maybe something one of the attackers says to him..."if you ever tell, Ill find you" Something like that. Or perhaps the attacker(s) take him and there is eventually some sort of Stockholm syndrome.
     
  15. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    What I ended up going with was that the reason he never called his father after the murder was half because he wanted revenge on the guy that killed his mother and if he had called his father and gone back home, that never would happen. The other half of it was because him and his father clashed a lot... so he doesn't necessarily want to go home to that. It's kind of a weak explanation to just say it logically like this, but I think it explains enough of why he would stay and be a homeless kid rather than grow up the usual way. I wanted to try and avoid a page long explanation because it's not too essential to the plot... its just there has to be a reason he was there this whole time.
     
  16. LostInFiction
    Offline

    LostInFiction Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi, It could be that the son thought the mother was implicated in the robbery (this could be a frightened kids interpretation of a confusing and horrific situation rather than based on what actually happened) and so, being very scared for himself and the rest of his family, he tries to keep away from anyone official and therefore avoids the inevitability of the father looking for him through official routes. He may even have started to earn money to get himself back home but he may not have contacted anyone for fear of being caught up in the original incident where the mother was killed.
    Good luck with whatever you get working for you :)
     

Share This Page