1. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Need a villain/circumstance the hopefully isn't a cliche

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ddavidv, Sep 13, 2014.

    I'm working on the basic idea of my second book in a series about a female protagonist. The background is that in the first book she went from being somewhat weak and having no direction to finding personal strength and (violently) killed several people that were out to murder her.

    She has moved away and is now working as a flagger (one of those people who hold the sign at construction sites), trying to live in anonymity and figuring out what she wants to do with the rest of her life. While working one day, she sees a young woman in a car with a man. The girl is visibly terrified. The MC does nothing at the time (not much she can do) but later crosses paths with the girl in a public setting and I imagine a scene where the two women meet in the ladies' room and the MC moves to rescue the other girl from her predicament with the man in the car.

    What I can't seem to figure out is the relationship between the girl and the man and what kind of villain the guy is. The man will later murder the girl setting off a chain of events with the MC, so the pair cannot be a normal married couple; the girl would have to be someone who could disappear with little notice.

    Things I've ruled out as too cliche:
    The guy is a pimp and/or a mobster
    The guy is a politician (this would conflict with my last book)
    The girl is a prostitute

    The villain will try to kill the MC also, as she will know he murdered the girl when that happens. The two females will spend time together hiding from the man until the girl is killed.

    There will also be a police detective involved in all of this, trying to figure out what is going on between the MC and the male killer. I have not yet decided when to bring him into the story. He will be a romantic interest for the MC which will create additional conflict, but this is probably irrelevant to my dilemma.

    Setting is current. Location is somewhere in the middle-Atlantic states, though I haven't settled on where. I dislike the idea of this taking place in a big city (the MC would probably not live in one).

    I need the "man" to be a bad guy who kills easily. His background story is the biggest stumbling block; I think if I can figure that out, placing the "girl" character will be simpler.
    Who is the girl, and why is she with this guy in the first place? What is keeping her from fleeing on her own?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    How old is the 'girl'? Like, literally a girl? He could be her father/stepfather/coach/teacher.

    Is she older than that? It could still be a coaching relationship - he's been coaching her for years, she's learned to accept the abuse and thinks it's the only way to keep her career moving forward. She doesn't really realize just how psycho he is, or else he's becoming progressively more psycho.

    Could be her boss, could be her agent.

    Could just be her husband/boyfriend. Abused women DO stay with their abusers for longer than seems to make sense to others.

    I think you're going to have to figure out more about one character or the other, and then decide on a match-up.
     
  3. Who
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    Who Member

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    David, this answer is probably going to really not be welcome and will probably rank high on your 'suck-o-meter', but what you're kind of asking is for one of us to do the most essential thing for you. Anyone can critique your writing or your method, but the story itself has to be your creation. Avoiding the pitfalls of cliche is up to the creator of the story, I don't think it would be creatively positive for us to do that for you. =)
     
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  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused as to why a married woman couldn't disappear with little notice. Do you mean that once she's identified, her husband would promptly be a suspect? Otherwise, it's not as if marriage involves publicity or anything. :)
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I remember exactly how I created my 'antagonist' which is more or less what you're trying to do now. Like you, I had other parts of the story constructed in my head, but I needed a 'reason' for it all to start happening. I needed personal reasons for my MC and his antagonist to end up on two sides of the story. I needed it to be something that would be difficult for him to cope with on many levels, and become, basically an unresolvable problem. How do you make something come out 'right,' when it's built in to the situation that you can't? Like you, I also wanted to avoid cliches. I was setting my story in the latter period of the Old West (the 1880s) and you can imagine the cliches that could abound in THAT scenario.

    Anyway, I mulled over the problem, going at it from several different angles, none of which satisfied me.

    Then I grabbed the personal angle, and started working with that. Okay, my MC needs an antagonist. What would make it hardest for him to cope? What makes a difficult opponent? Someone who has a hold over you. Who has the strongest hold over you? Family? Yes, often. But even more than that. Somebody who loves you? Yes that's hard, too. Somebody YOU love? Oh boy, that's it. That's the most difficult opponent I can think of. Okay, how can somebody whom you love (and maybe loves you back?) become your opponent? Possibly your deadly opponent. What would happen between you to cause this situation?

    And so on. Just tighten and tighten the scope.

    You can do this exercise between any two characters in your story who oppose one another—including your two minor characters in the car. What would make the girl frightened BUT unwilling to escape from the man when she has the chance? Could the guy have some hold over her? Or ...maybe have a hold over somebody SHE loves? Just keep ferreting away at this idea, and I'm sure you'll have your eureka moment ...like I did.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
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  6. Pappy
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    Pappy New Member

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    Clearly this "girl" or "woman" is in an abusive relationship...whatever that is. The guy could be her father, or husband or uncle, or brother or boy friend, or other emotional/authoritative figure in this "girl's" or "woman's" life.

    You need to do some research on abusive relationships. Look at all types of abuse, be it physical, emotional, etc. That way, you'll be drawing from real stories and real people to develop these two characters. You need to figure out the relationship before you go forward. Neither one of these two people live in a vacuum, they have influenced each other's lives.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Cliche has nothing to do with motivations or storylines. Familiar situations recur in writing primarily because either they recur frequent;y in real life, or because they have strong dramatic potential. Don't be afraid to use them. Just do your best to interpret them honestly and present something the reader can relate to.

    Have you considered that your male protagonist could simply have made a mistake? We all know of people with a short fuse who hurt someone in a moment of rage. From that point on, fear and desperation can send him into a downward spiral.
     
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  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Okay. I got a mug of coffee and twenty minutes, lets see where this goes.

    -the girl is a member of the boys and girls club and the man is her sponsor. He's taking her to a camping trip, which is actually a drug/human trafficking run (drugs for girls)

    -The girl is the man's niece and suspects that he has killed her mother (his sister). He's going to kill her to keep her silent

    -The girl is an agent in deep cover with a biker gang shipping heroin. The man is her SO, who has just realized that she knows he's on the take from the gang.

    -The girl owes the man over a million dollars in gambling debt, she's offered to pay it off by sleeping with him, but she's worried he might find out that she gave the money to government agents as evidence of his gambling ring.

    -The girl is an amature paleontologist, bringing the man to a super secret ground breaking fossil site. She's worried he might find it more academically convenient to kill her and take credit himself.

    -The girl is a clone of the man's wife, grown in a lab for the last 20 years. The man's wife found out and told him to "dispose" of the problem

    -The girl is working the "honey pot" on a spy program. She's in too deep and the man (spy) is ready to kill her rather then expose himself

    -the girl is a robot. The man has no further use for her, and is taking her into the woods to be decommissioned. It has to be the woods because he has to shut off her core reactor and if he does it wrong he'll set off a nuclear explosion.

    -The girl is actually a hit girl, worried about completing her first job. She's going to fail and the man will kill her instead.

    -The girl and the man have never met before, they both received phone calls from a loved one telling them to meet in the mountains. The man will kill the woman rather then risk her revealing what the found there.

    -The girl is in the midst of a psychotic episode and the man (her pdoc) is taking her to a specialist. She freaks out and attacks him and he kills her in self defense
    (this one is my favorite)
     
  9. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    And you know what? I agree completely. I made the post reluctantly, feeling as if I had failed my story at the outset, yet I was stuck in a rut with the same recurring ideas, none of which I had any love for. Expecting someone to hand me the plot on a platter is expecting too much, and just plain wrong ethically. What I hoped for, and may have gotten, is a more general kick in a direction. @jannert gave me a lot to think about, and in there somewhere is the seed of something both appealing and useful.

    "Could the guy have some hold over her? Or ...maybe have a hold over somebody SHE loves?"

    The first part was the obvious one to me. The girl in the car is afraid of the guy because she fears him, but he has some kind of hold on her that a simple escape is out of the question. The second part is a wonderful way to explain the first. Hardly a new plot device, but one I had not considered. This does not spell out a specific plot scenario, but it does offer up a direction that is far more interesting (to me at least) than the guy in the car being a pimp and the girl being a teenage runaway or something (there are logistical problems with that scenario anyway).

    @Cogito also offers up the 'mistake'. Perhaps in this case mistaken identity...the guy has taken the girl for some reason but she is 'not the droid you are looking for', lol.

    The larger take-away from this is that (for me, in this case) the mind gets so stuck in considering one or two scenarios that it can't seem to see past them. An endless loop of frustration ensues, creating more angst and curbing the creative juices. Frustrating. Since my last two projects had both been festering for years in my head they were easy to put down on paper; I had worked most of the plot elements out long ago. Working on a new idea--forcing myself to make it instead of culling an idea over time--is a new thing for me.
     
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