1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Mulling over some plot details...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Steerpike, Jul 11, 2010.

    Short story idea I am batting around. Fantasy setting. Basic idea is that a woman learns something she isn't supposed to from the loose tongue of a lover. Once it becomes clear to certain powerful people that she knows this information, they want her out of the way. They falsely accuse her of being a witch, with the hope that she'll be tried and executed.

    Two problems:

    1. Why don't they just kill her? Answer - the woman is a noble, a relation of a foreign power which which there is an uneasy truce. Her situation is similar to that of noble-born "hostages" of long ago. She is treated well and under the protection of the ruler where she lives. Just killing her would raise too many questions, even if they tried to make it look like an accident or murder. Also, it would bring dishonor to the powers that be, since she is under their protection. An accusation and conviction of witchcraft would discredit her and severely limit the ability of her family to seek revenge.

    2. If there's a trial, she's going to talk. So this information is going to come to light. What to do about that?

    Questions:

    A. Does the rationale of #1, above, make sense?

    2. Any ideas how to address the issue of #2? I've batted some things around, but haven't quite resolved the problem. Could have a closed trial, but that defeats the purpose of having the trial to discredit her.
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. No that would give her a chance to speak up.

    2. A blackmail situation making her keep quiet would be better, maybe involver the lover would tip the scales of the situation. Then they could accuse her of witchcraft and she would have to defend herself from the accusation unable to speak up about the real reason they accuse her.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    2. She has children or siblings who are hostage to her silence.

    As for #1., not everyone has the stomach to commit murder. Better to lay that in other people's hands. Given that, her accusers would live in fear of her calling their bluff in #2 above
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Oh...good ideas, guys. Thanks. My thinking was too narrowly focused and I didn't even consider these types of external factors. Blackmail, children or siblings...nice.

    I'm writing your suggestions down. And now that you've opened up my thinking, supposed she's betrothed and due to go back home in a few months? More urgent to hurry up and convict her before she leaves and is out from under the thumb of the people who have her now. And if she speaks, she dishonors herself and her family, and ruins her engagement (which also harms her family). Is that plausible?

    Good point about not having the stomach for murder, Cogito. That also opens up some nice bits of characterization for the bad guys.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I'll go with this. She was having an affair with 'the lover' and for some reason she knew if words of her affair got out she and the kingdom of her birth will be completely ruined.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, Manav. I like that idea as well. I appreciate the thoughts!
     
  7. macleod0420
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    macleod0420 Member

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    Another thought may be an organized kidnapping or dissappearance made to look like escape. If she is a political hostage of some kind then her enemies could make her dissappear and have it attributed to her making a break for freedom. Just another angle.
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    It's definitely plausible if it's way far back in history (which I assume it is). In those times breaking off a betrothal that was done for the good of your family was extremely disgraceful and avoided at all costs.

    Also I agree with everyone else. Another question to ask is what is compelling her to say something? Does her desire to say something outweigh the reasons not to speak up? If not then give her a good enough reason not to say something.
     
  9. AdamWriting
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    AdamWriting Member

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    I think you need to answer these questions starting with the character herself. At the beginning of the story, before she undergoes any change or revelation, what is she like? Is she selfish? Bitter? The type of person she is at the beginning of the story should guide you to come up with ways she will react initially, then, as the story progresses and she has a few revelations, she will change what she does. For example:

    She could start off keeping the secret for some self-serving, petty reason like jealousy, than later in the story, as she changes to a better person, she is blackmailed. Finally, she performs a selfless act and tells the truth to help someone else.

    Adam
     

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