1. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Need help with the beginning

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by thabear637, Mar 27, 2009.

    Hello, I got the plot, the characters, the setting, everything in place. I just have to start it out showing how the main character is depressed.

    to sum it up, the hero in the story blames himself for his father's(the king) death(but it was not of his doing). At the same time he lost his fiancee (presumably dead), the throne, his home, everything. If he were to show his face at his home town, he'd be executed.

    Thats all in the past, when the story starts he is very depressed and seeks death. However I can't think of which way he goes about:

    1)Tries to commit suicide but fails and hates himself for not even able to do that (and if so..how does he try and kill himself and fail :/)
    2)Hates himself and makes a living off conning people, cheating people, stealing, whatever it may be. He may not try to kill himself, but he tries to get himself killed.


    It all will lead up to finding out he's scared of dieing and ends up killing a leader in the villains army in a sword fight, allowing both the good guys and bad guys to know he is still alive.

    I know it's vague, but looking for a dramatic opening (aren't we all?) Does anyone have any suggestions I may want to look into? Maybe some way of depression I haven't thought of? Or perhaps a good justification for the former prince (who is a good person) to conn people...or a good way of him failing at suicide?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Hanging as a way of suicide comes to mind. I'm assuming here that the hero has no knowledge of how hanging works. So, it would be a painful experience, and the struggling of the hero could cause the branch of the tree where he tied the rope to break.

    Excess amounts of medication can also lead to death. However, the person usually wakes up after some time, so the hero would most likely live.

    Last idea is to use a weapon. Although, this idea would probably need another character to help the hero and is a more dangerous way to kill oneself. Depending on how bad the wound is, the hero could bleed to death in a matter of minutes.

    People do bad things in times of desperation which is good incentive for the prince to turn to crime.
     
  3. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    You do you want to show his depression through attempted death? There are other ways...
     
  4. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I found this phrase to be highly amusing. :D

    This is my catering to the quirky nature of things, but I like the idea of random chance preventing him from killing himself. For instance, if he tries hanging himself, the rope/branch breaks; if he tries to cut an artery, he discovers the hard way that the blade is dull; etc. Perhaps trying to off himself once was hard, and trying to do so again would be beyond him.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    haha it is pretty funny now that I look at it.
     
  6. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    I'd go with the second version. Suicide is a depressing subject and you want to draw your readers in at the beginning of a story, not alienate them.

    I'd show him putting some kind of death-wish into action with the villains' leader as you suggest. I really like that idea. An opening sentence or two showing him having won a life-or-death fight but feeling depressed about having survived would make a great hook.

    I'd drop in bits of back story only as and when they're needed for the reader to undersatand what's going on.

    John
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't really a plot development issue as it is an exercise in showing as opposed to telling.

    Depression and suicidal urges manifest in a variety of ways. Risky behavior is one, such as risky sexual behavior, or heavy drinking and/or drug use, provoking fights against poor odds, etc. Other depressive behavior such as excessive sleep patterns or siolating oneself from people can support the picture.
     
  8. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    hmmm good thoughts everyone...

    I appreciate it :)

    Cogito I think I agree with you that it might be toooo much of a depression to start with suicide...but perhaps I start it off with the death fight. That could work easily..it would be exciting and draw the reader in right away..much more of a faster pace then solumn thoughts of death
     
  9. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    I doubt a suicide would alienate readers just because it's a suicide.
     
  10. jammyjimmy
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    jammyjimmy New Member

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    Alrighty...

    As a sufferer of depression, a serious fan of sword and sorcery books, and someone who has been on the brink of suicide several times before, I look at this character and from what I've heard about him, he doesn't seem credible.

    HOWEVER... he's not far away.
    To me the natural reaction if your fiancee is missing, presumed dead, you're homeless, exiled and you believe you killed your father, is to go somewhere else, immediately from nothing more than a survival instinct.
    There's the question of the fiancee - what's happened to her, would he try and find out about her?
    Does he have funds to travel? If not, how does he manage it?
    Does he have skills to survive, or is he handy with weapons?
    Presumably if he's a prince, then he knows many of the neighbouring towns and villages, and will have friends, or at least acquaintances there.

    IF he's been run out of all those places, he's penniless, he has no skills, is slowly starving to death, tired, cold, his existance is bleaker than a walk across the north pole in your pyjamas, and he has been angry before he's been sad, and ONLY when ALL HOPE IS GONE... would he contemplate suicide.
    His perception of his current existance has to be worse than the thought of dying. The most abhorent thought has to be another day tomorrow being like today.

    You need to show how things have got THAT BAD that he wants to end it all.

    Now then, scenario 2 seems more likely to me, where he gets into some action, because he feels he has nothing to live for.
    "Might as well take some of those bandits with me," he would think, or something along those lines. Maybe even to honour the memory of his father, in a way, or to make up for the blame of his death sort of.
    Feeling you have nothing to live for is a long way from wanting to end your life, and it seems more likely to the character as you've described him.


    Sorry to ramble on, but I felt I could really contribute to this one with some first-hand experience, as it were.. :)

    JJ
    :cool:
     
  11. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Wow Jimmy thank you for the input!

    To first answer some of your questions..

    The fiancee he believes is dead
    He does have the funds for travel, but he hid how much he really had
    He does have some skill to survive, he was the prince and received top notch military training because he would have to act as king one day.
    He does know the neighboring towns, but they were all affected by the suddent event, he had to travel WAAY south where no one would recognize him.


    However, I have decided to go away from the suicide approach. Instead, he has only thought of it and the book starts with the death match i was trying to lead up to. In this death match, he shows emotions that he is looking forward to death, but is scared to die at the same time.
     
  12. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    I actually really like the suicide idea as a comic opening to a story. It depends what you want to make your hero. You've already started with him out of his comfort zone so you're not showing the reader what his life was like, therefore it could be a great chance for your character to say something about who he is.

    I suppose that's what you have to ask yourself, who is your character. Lets develop the concept a little. He is a prince. Maybe he's been brought up in the lap of luxury... so despite any training he might have had, he could still be quite dumb. Now, I'm deliberately going against some of the things you have said about your character because I don't want to influence you, just give you something to think about.

    "Right!"

    He says to himself,

    "I'm going to kill myself. After all, that's what peasants do when they're not very happy."

    See, he's not all there. He's a little arrogant because of his upbringing and has heard some strange storied about the things peasants do. Oh, in this version of the character he is speaking like an Eton school boy but with a slight lisp. One of the favorite things that he used to say was:

    "My father told me about peasants!"

    Which was then followed by some strange tail that no peasant in there right mind would have done. He firmly believes that a peasant would not only run out in front of a cart but has beautiful plumage (because he mixes up with pheasants). He even tried cooking one once.

    Our hero isn't a complete idiot though and has taken lodgings in the attic of a town house. Depressed, and with no better plan, he throws a rope over a beam in the ceiling. This is it, the end of the royal line. His father would be so upset with him, but since he won't die in battle he won't see his father in the afterlife, so it doesn't really matter.

    He stands on a stool, puts the makeshift noose over his head, takes a deep breath and jumps.

    Now, our hero isn't particularly adept at tying knots and doesn't really know what the strongest part of a roof is. The knot gave first, before it had time to do any real harm to the prince who landed on the floor, dejected. The beam was the second thing to go, having been dislodged and weakened by the weight of the prince as he dangled for a split second on it. As the prince stood, looking down at his boots, the roof tumbled in on its self.

    Now, this is where our hero is very lucky. He had chosen the oldest looking house that he could and it was old. Built in the time of his great grandfather, the townhouse had fallen in to disrepair. Most of the floorboards had started rotting through and this was the same with the floorboards our prince was now standing on. As the roof fell our lucky hero was propelled half way through the roof.

    Below the prince, a carpenter named Jack lived with his wife. He was very surprised to hear a creaking noise above him. He was just as surprised to see a pair of black boots plummet through his ceiling. His surprise was increased even more when those same boots swung forward giving him a swift kick between the eyes. His last words, as he drifted in to unconsciousness, were lost on everybody but a small mouse that lived in his skirting boards.

    "Blimey," he thought, "I didn't see that coming!"

    __

    Now, I know what you're thinking to yourself... what utter drivel. But, I have literally just sat here and typed that, one idea flowing from another all based on this character of a prince that I have in my head. Why does the knot not hold and the roof break and the floorboards collapse on him? Well, because I thought it was funny at the time... bad example. But the thought process of the prince had to be there first.

    So, try this. Imagine you are your prince (that is what writing is all about). Close your eyes and put yourself in his situation. Act out what has happened to him in your head. Now, what are you feeling? Probably not depression because there is a lot of adrenalin there as well. If he is surviving through his whits then he probably hasn't had the time to be depressed. The human mind is an odd thing. we compartmentalise our feelings and we have a gating mechanism which brings the most important ones to the front first. Your hero probably won't feel depressed until he has had a chance to stop running for his life for a bit.

    When that depression comes it is doubtful that he will deal with it in suicide straight away. Have him turning to the bottle perhaps. I understand you want a good opening to your story, how abut something like this.

    We see our hero at a bar, drinking heavily. Comments are made about him being the town drunk. As he leaves the inn (most likely thrown out) he is set upon by some thugs intent on beating him up and stealing his money. He fights back, pulling out a sword, and one by one defeats all five of the thugs.

    You've not told the audience that the character is a prince but you have told them that

    a) This character is turning to drink for some reason.
    b) Even when drunk, he can handle himself in a fight.

    You've also left his actual identity a little bit of a secret, hopefully the audience will want to read on and find out more about this character now.

    Hope this helps,

    K
     

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