1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Misery Squad

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Killer300, May 7, 2011.

    Man, I'm just bursting with ideas, however that's a pretty normal state for me. So much so that you could perhaps argue I'm a living incarnation of a muse.:)

    But anyway, I had this interesting idea way back that sadly didn't go anywhere. I'm wondering if perhaps it's worth salvaing, if told differently. The premise is of, "Misery Squad," is that there are a group of heroes that intervene when the hero that's supposed to succeed screws up and dies. However, when they save the world, it's only a temporary measure, because they didn't heal the world the way a hero is supposed to, which is by going on a long journey and fixing tons of problems along the way, i.e. a Hero's Journey. No, they, "cheated," by harnessing the power of misery to make them ludicrously powerful so that they can easily kill villains.

    They have another job, which is to get said failed heroes, and make them join them. Then, those failed heroes serve a sentence of hundreds to thousands of years, and then have to try again. If they fail, they get punished again. So, the Misery Squad is made of up of people that failed, and are basically having to clean up others failures too.

    Okay, I mentioned they were powered by Misery, and they are in two ways. The misery the heroes have from having failed, and the misery from the destroyed worlds they leave. The former powers the weapons that the heroes use that allows them to kill the villains so easily. The latter powers their ship, and allows them to travel throughout the dimensions. They have a special machine that harnesses this power. How? I don't know, not through a pseudo-science way though.

    Controlling everything is a computer called Fate. It decides who will be heroes, and they have to follow their roles whether they want to or not, or be put into the Misery Squad. Typical deviances that get people into the Misery Squad include, love, impatience, or just selfishness. The first is that they quit their quest to go live with someone they love, and they are punished for it by being torn away from their loved forever. In the Misery Squad, they are commonly called, "Broken Hearts," and have the type of Misery that powers their projectile weapons, like guns and bows. Impatience are heroes that, "skip," over what are, in a sense,"sidequests," like stopping to rescue a sinking ship. They're punished by being forced to dream every night of the lives they sacrificed, especially since they are because of this not nearly powerful enough to stop the villain. In the Misery Squad they are commonly called, "Guilty Hearts," and their Misery powers area attacks, like explosives and magic that affects a large area. The third type, selfishness, is refusing to undertake the quest because of personal reasons, i.e. person wants to left alone and so on. As punishment, they never get any privacy from being chained to certain parts of the ship, unless they are called upon to do a mission. They are commonly called, "Lonely Hearts," in the Misery Squad, and their Misery powers melee weapons like swords and hammers.

    Now, my problem with this plot was I had no idea how to really introduce the concept, and all of its components. I didn't even really know who the main character was going to be, and therefore had immense trouble writing it. Now, my question is whether this concept is worth pursuing, and if so, how perhaps? This is a really cool sounding plot to me, but it feels very difficult to work with.
     
  2. nzric
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    nzric Active Member

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    I've got to admit, I don't really like the entire concept, but I think there's some elements in there that are gold.

    First of all, the idea of a team of "fixers" who patch things up if a hero fails is absolutely brilliant. Like that mafioso guy from Pulp Fiction crossed with X-men. OMFG, that's a brilliant idea and if you don't turn that into a story I will! :p :p

    I don't like the idea of 'Misery Squad'. It may be good for an anime piece or a middle-of-the-range graphic novel but I think as a novella/novel it wouldn't fly.

    You could use elements of it. One thing I like is how you're saying that some people are 'destined' to tasks, and if they fail, their strengths/weaknesses are emphasised to a 'superhuman' level. That's a good idea.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Hmm, interesting. Well, it may be a great idea, but I do need some advice on how in the world to write it.

    But anyway, okay, well, the misery part is because I'm directly tying in that they failed. They failed in their purpose, therefore, they are being punished for it. But, okay, what issues do you have with the Misery Squad itself? Or rather, the misery part of it? You think it would be angsty? Well, than I need a new emotion that drives their power.

    Also, this ties into the theme of the story, which is whether destiny is really a good thing. They didn't choose to be heroes, they are forced to be by Fate, who is a literal thing here, if a weird computer. But anyway, hope to hear more from you all.:)
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with nzric, the basic concept about cleaning up after failed heroes sounds really cool. The rest sounds a little gimmicky, like a Saturday morning anime cartoon.

    Having fixed rules for how different types of failed heroes are punished sounds like it will make the story and characters stereotypical. If one kind of hero is always plagued by bad dreams, another kind always chained to the ship, and so on, what room is there for their personal development?

    Instead, let the punishments flow naturally from the circumstances. For example, a hero can have bad dreams because he knows his failure lead to the deaths of his loved ones. That's something people can identify with, because anyone would sleep badly in that situation. It also leaves room for the hero to atone, or even learn that it wasn't his fault after all, and the dreams may change as a result.

    If your heroes can defeat the villains by harnessing the power of misery and become immensely powerful, there's a risk every fight will follow this pattern:

    1. Heroes meet bad guy.
    2. Bad guy gains the upper hand and almost defeats them.
    3. Heroes decide to "harness the power of misery", hold hands, make lots of pretty fireworks, and defeat the villain.

    Giving the characters a magical weapon to defeat every villain with leaves little room for their (or the writer's) ingenuity. In order to write clever endings, you'd have to come up with excuses for why they can't use the "power of misery" every time.
     
  6. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Okay, that makes more sense.
    Well, that isn't how the Misery weapons work. They always use them, regardless of circumstance. The fight with those villains isn't the key, because they don't really fix the worlds. You see, all they do is temporaily stop the villain, to give time for another hero. It's like a doctor curing a symptom of a disease without curing the disease. All they're doing is a temporary stopping measure.
    As for the groups, yeah, I'll cut that. That was an attempt to organize them, but in the original idea it wasn't necessary and it still isn't. Their main punishment really is just guilt. Rather, how it manifests in them is interesting. Originally, my idea was that many actually punished themselves for it, but it was their choice. I'll go back to that concept now.
    Okay, this is really helping. Thanks.
     
  7. wicked_poppies
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    wicked_poppies Member

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    Ok, so I’m not quite sure about this whole concept. Not because I just don’t like it, but because it doesn’t entirely make sense to me. So, if I understood what you’re saying correctly, first there is a hero and a villain. By fate or destiny’s designee, the hero is supposed to win the confrontation. However, due to some unforeseen event, the hero does not win. This is when the “misery squad” comes in, correct? They don’t kill the villain, or completely stop him, but rather foil his current plan until another hero comes along. Meanwhile, the hero who failed in his attempt to kill/stop the villain will be punished by spending thousands of years in the “misery squad”? So here are my questions:
    First of all, what type of heroes are we talking about here? Are they aliens, are they mutants, are they fallen gods, are they ordinary people touched by the divine? What are they and where do they get their powers? Also, who are the villains, and where do they get their powers? Are the heroes and villains matched together in a grand scheme of things, or do they just chose to fight each other? Dose this story take place on earth? Dose it occur in an alternate reality, or in our reality? Is it set in the future? If a hero dies, how do they force them to join the “misery league”? Why do failed heroes have to join the misery league? Did they sign a contract when they got their powers, or what? Why is a hero, only to make sacrifices all your life and then when you try your best and fail be sentenced to a thousand years of servitude? Do the villains have their own version of the “misery squad?”

    EDIT: Ok, just reread the first post, and it answered some questions..... still, im not sure it's thought out enough. What is the purpose of the squad? I know they fix things to an extent, but there would be hundreds of thousands of "heroes" on the ship from your rules. Who is in charge of all this, and where do they get there power? You said that a hero is chosen and they have no choice and they must join the squad in they fail, but I think there needs to be more of a reason than "just because". The rules are verry strict and too harsh. Also, what happens if a hero fails for another reason than the ones you gave? If they fail, how do they derive power from their failures?

    EDIT, AGAIN: ok, saw another post you made and it answerd a question and made me think of another..... If they a hero fails because he was in love, or just didnt want to do it, why would he subject himself to more pain by joining the squad?
     
  8. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Okay, they don't necessarily have powers, and there are hundreds of dimensions. Fate is the one who decides who is what, because both heroes and villains serve a vital purpose. The villain is really just a manifestation of immense problems plaguing the world, like totalitarian governments, out of control capitalism, or enviromental problems of some sort. The hero fixes this problem by going on a long quest the heals the land along the way to defeating the villain. Killing the villain is supposed to be the last step in a long process.

    Speaking of which, the villains are actually all, in a sense, anti-villains. They know what they're doing is wrong, but since they know about all of this, they are told unlike the heroes how all this works, they do so without much remorse. They know they have to make the hero struggle to defeat them, which is why they cause so many problems, despite knowing what they're doing is wrong in a traditional morality sense. Keep in mind they are only adding to problems that already exist, usually in a way that shows a deeper problem. They actually want the hero to kill them, and therefore are almost suicidal in a sense because much of what they do is to make the hero stronger. In an RPG sense, i.e. the hero actually levels up although they aren't exactly aware of it.

    The Misery Squad skips this process, which is why its method is only temporary. The failed heroes have to join because Fate is a natural phenomnen you can't really refuse. It would be like saying no to a natural disaster, it won't stop just because you don't like what's doing. A tornado will destroy your house whether you want it to or not. Same goes for joining the Misery Squad on order of Fate.

    Now, actually, most heroes succeed. Of those who don't, they cycle things in a way that everytime they get a hero, one leaves. Another punishment is companions that help the hero don't join them in the Misery Squad. Therefore, the numbers actually aren't too bad.

    This concept originally was kind of going to be one that would work within fanfiction, but it evolved into something else. Taking it that way, imagine if in Chrono Trigger the heroes were all killed before they could kill the villain. Or, they decided to just say, "screw this," and go off to do their own thing. Well, then the Misery Squad would come and kill the main villain, while leaving all the other problems of the world the same. While they do that, they would get Chrono, and leave all of his companions to suffer on the world. Chrono would then be punished for hundreds to thousands of years, and then be reborn on another world to try again in his heroic duties.

    Hope this all helps.
     
  9. wicked_poppies
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    wicked_poppies Member

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    I have no clue what "Chrono Trigger" is, and I'm not trying to be rude, but I dont care enough to go look it up right now. I'm too tired... LOL I just think your premis is a too complicated. If perhaps you wrote a story about a hero fighting a villan, and then in the end he lost, and then wrote the sequal about the hero being forced join your squad thingy, and then so on..... That would be a better way to introduce the complicated rules without overloading the reader or the story.
     
  10. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Umm, okay... wait until you aren't? I'm sorry, but that wasn't really helping anyone, not meaning to be rude either.

    Anyway, one issue is this concept is quite a mouthful to say the least, the reason why I'm trying to get tips here on how to write and present it perhaps.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Focus on the story and characters first, and the world-building second. If you entertain people with the story, you'll have plenty of time to describe the rules of your fictional world in the background. It's the story and characters most readers are interested in anyway.

    The whole structure of the story (a villain appears, a hero fails to defeat them, the Misery Squad appears, they defeat the villain but leave the underlying problem, the failed hero joins them, and another character leaves them, repeat) sound very formulaic. In animé shows they do this so they can have new problems for the characters to solve and keep the show going year after year. If you're writing a series of stand-alone episodes, it may be perfect, but for a novel, it would be very constraining.
     
  12. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    True. Perhaps this was inspired by shonen anime at the time? But anyway, yeah, I'll just focus on writing the characters and their storyline first. I just hope that the world doesn't appear to be too confusing to the reader at first.

    Besides that, the battles aren't really the meat of the story. If they were, they would work a lot differently. The real meat of the story is in the interactions between them that show the inner working of the Misery Squad, among other things. The battles are more like chores the characters undertake occasionally imbetween longs bouts of... misery. This is a story about depression, grief, and the justice of something like Fate, or lack there of.
     
  13. wicked_poppies
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    If the premise of your story is base off of a game, it’s not going to appeal to a wide range of readers. Not everyone has heard of that game as a reference. If they need to have played the game, or say, go look it up online, it’s not going to appeal to everyone. When people pick up your story to read, everything they need to know about your world should be in it. Bottom line is that your premise is too complicated to introduce all at once, like I said. Again, to restate myself, you need to introduce the rules of the world you’re creating a little at a time so you won’t overwhelm the reader into putting down your book. How you do it is up to you. As a writer, it’s your job to make your story work. In the end, your premise for your story matters little if you can’t tie it together with characters and a good plot. All you have right now are the rules and regulations that the universe your story takes place must follow. You need a story and characters, or all you have is a fantasy world with nothing happening in it. If you’re sure of your premise (and it seems that you are), then your next step would be to come up with a story and characters (which is kind of what I said before). Anyways, warmest wishes and best of luck!
     
  14. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Ah, thank you. Don't worry, it isn't based off of a game, I was just using that as an example.
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good, it doesn't sound like explaining the rules of the world should be a big problem. During the course of one battle, you can switch to the villain's viewpoint to show why he must fight the hero, then to the hero's viewpoint to show that he tries and fails, then to the squad's viewpoint to show how they deal with the problem and switch heroes, then to an ordinary human's viewpoint to show that the basic problem still persists. By then, you have shown the most important points, and the rest should be easy to get across in dialogue.
     
  16. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Ah, thanks. Okay, I should be ready to write this, once that idea comes crashing back into my brain with force, I'll be able to write it much more easily now.
     

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