1. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    On deathbed conversations

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by stormcat, Jan 13, 2014.

    Here's the situation, Character A is going to see Character B, who is dying. But I have no clue what to write for this scene! What would they even talk about?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Question: Why is Character A going to visit Character B?

    Is the motivation that B is dying? Is there something else that takes A there?
     
  3. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    Yes, you need to give us more information for us to help you. Is he visiting because character b is his nemesis and he wants to get in one final insult? Is character b a good friend or close family member? Is character a trying to get information from character b before character b is dead?
     
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  4. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Okay. Here's the situation:

    There has just been a shootout. Both character A and B have been hit, but A is okay. B is succumbing to his wounds. A feels guilty about the whole thing as she thinks she "Caused" the shootout and the upcoming death.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, that's a start. So we know that A is coming into the conversation with a burden of guilt. Is A the kind of person to try and gloss the guilt into something else, transfer it away, or is A a wallower, ready to dig the guilt hole as far as the shovel takes her?
     
  6. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    How do they know each other? Are they friends? Family? In a romance?
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, exactly! Why were they in the shootout together? What is their pre-shoot-out relationship?
     
  8. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    They used to date, Character A was attacked by a jilted suitor and character B stepped in to save her.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Then A can start with the relationship she had with Mr. Jilted Triggerfinger. It's an easy lead-in to her apology or saying how she felt about what B did to save her or how guilty she feels or how B is ten times the man (or woman, don't know) that Triggerfinger ever was, etc. It also gives room for some exposition of A.
     
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  10. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    B needs to say something too. But what?
     
  11. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Seems to me that if you don't know what they're going to talk about your protagonist has no reason, plot-wise, to take the reader into that room. Yes, s/he may go and spent three days with the dying person, but the reader doesn't need to know what was said, only that it happened, so as to account for the passing of time in the story, an the effect it has on what matters. You might apply this "rule": if a scene, paragraph, or line doesn't meaningfully advance the plot, set the scene, or develop character, it serves only to slow the narrative. Ans who needs that?
     
  12. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    This is part of a much larger story. The plot has already been plotted out in my mind. It's just this scene I keep getting hung up on.
     
  13. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Stormcat, only you know the details around what/how they will say something. Write a rough draft of a conversation, or at least what you want to happen in the conversation. For example we might give you an example where B forgives A, but in your mind you want B to resent A.

    Essentially if you were going down the path of forgiveness, what you need is an apology from A, that B accepts. Or do you have a third character who is giving them this moment? You could skip the conversation and go to him waiting outside. Maybe he hears A speaking in a tearful voice.
     
  14. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    How can I write a rough draft of the conversation if all I know is these things will happen:

    1. A apologizes to B
    2. B forgives A
    3. B pleads for A to end his suffering and kill him right then and there.

    After that I have no idea what to do until the next scene starts.
     
  15. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    If there's been a shootout I guess person A would run towards person B after the shooting is finished.
    - person A sees that her saviour is badly wounded and tries to attend his wounds
    - person B starts by "stop, it's too late!" but the woman is now maybe panicking because (probably innocent?) man will die because of her and she still tries to secure his wounds
    - the dying man forces her to stop and this is how a tender conversation begins, which you should write on your own since you know their history, maybe even include some jokes from previous conversations etc. She confesses she never loved that other man
    - the dying man forgives (the crying) woman and gently persuades her to ease his suffering by killing him
    - slowly, you end the scene (maybe with funeral)
    - you can also add a concern from character B, regarding character A's wound

    Ha, I don't think I could give you a more cliched scene, but we don't know anything of your story... What exactly is their relationship, do they get along well? When is it happening? Because you mentioned "shootout" I instinctively thought of a wild west.
    But I think if you'll be able to start writing the dialouge, scene will develope by itself, you just have to start. Your situtation looks a bit like "fear of blank page", you don't know how to start if I understand your problem correctly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To be honest, you don't sound like you know your characters or story very well. How is it possible that you won't know what the characters might say in such a climactic moment? Others have given good advice already. I'd encourage you to delve deeper into WHY the scene is there - what is it meant to show? And then go into your character motivations - to make this a little easier, try putting yourself in their shoes. What would YOU say, if you were characters A and B? What might you be feeling? What's the one most important thing your friend MUST know, which is likely the very thing the dialogue would be about?

    If you can't answer these questions, then I'd be kinda worried about your story as a whole. This scene would be the least of your problems.
     
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  17. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Unfortunately Stormcat, we don't know the pre or post impact of the conversation or events. Nor do we know each characters personality traits. Just write a basic conversation, even if it's just simple and ticks those three boxes. Then we can see your characterizations, and may be able to offer more directed advice. As an example one of your characters could have a southern drawl.​
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm also not clear on the timing here. You say there's just been a shootout, and that A was hit as well as B. If B is succumbing to his wounds, I'm assuming it is relatively soon after the shootout. (Although he could be succumbing to an infection that's slowly killing him, or surgery complications, etc.) But, if it is immediately after the shooting, A is still going to be in shock and somewhat traumatized by what has just happened, and may be receiving treatment for wounds herself, which will further impact the timing on this and how much she's able to process what's gone on.

    There's going to be a big difference between a scene where she's still in shock and physically hurting from being shot, and still processing what has transpired, versus a scene where her wounds have been treated, she's had some time to process what happened, and is thinking about how she feels about B before going in to see him, and whether she knows that he's about to die, or if she thinks he's going to recover, but then he suddenly and unexpectedly dies.
     
  19. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Actually, the shootout has been over for about an hour but B isn't improving even with medical intervention. He has also been paralyzed from the neck down so even if he does live, he will be unable to do anything. He asks character A to smother him with a pillow so he won't have to live (if he does live) trapped in a nonfunctioning body.
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just inject air into the veins - I hear that kills. Or a shot into the head. I don't think anyone in their right minds would actually ask to be smothered by a pillow - that's a heck of a painful and terrifying death, giving you plenty of time to indulge in the fear of death and change your mind (but oops, cus you can't speak while being smothered, you can't let the person know).
     
  21. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mckk gave you a good advice. If you know your characters, you can write a good dialogue. And since you created them, what would you do in this situation?

    If the shootout was over an hour ago and he wants to be killed with pillow I guess they brought him somewhere, probably a hospital? If that is the case then you have another problem. He is probably in critical state, which means he is at intensive care. And that means that characters were able to have a short conversation before the ambulance arrived (if your story is happening in 20/21st century). After that, nothing for quite some time.
    If he was not brought to the hospital I don't think being smothered with pillow is the best way to go if you have a gun by your side, as Mckk suggested.
     
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  22. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    And if it is a hospital, ie other people around, how does the person get away with murder? Because it's technically illegal to end someone's life even at their request. Can person A kill person B? If yes, how does this affect him/her later? If no, how does this impact the relationship between A and B?
     
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  23. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Huh. Haven't really thought about this. though I suppose A could convince a nurse to give B a lethal dose of something.

    As for how this affects the relationship between A and B, A originally left B because she discovered he had really bad Post-traumatic stress disorder. In a way, she's trying to give him closure.
     
  24. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    This is just an idea, but if you are not comfortable using the scene, even though you really want to, you might be better off leaving it out. It might be better than trying to force it in as it can seem contrived. There is always more than one way to tell a story. They could just share tender moment.
     
  25. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Okay, but don't forget to consider how A will be affected if she does kill B. It's not an easy thing to take someones' life.
     

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