1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Reality show too dated for plot devise?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by peachalulu, Jul 15, 2012.

    I was thinking of using a reality show as a plot devise for a horror book but I'm worried about it dating the story.

    The idea revolves around a macabre set of puzzles to be solved and obsticles to get around for a group of people
    trapped in a seemingly endless mansion.

    The story is larger than the plot devise with the characters themselves evolving from their greed as the game
    takes great pains to mock their issues by treating luxury as a hindrance , and pitting husband against wife.

    I'm almost thinking perhaps I should abandon the idea but I'm not sure, I don't know if I want to go
    the route of William Sleator's House of Stairs , or the Cube and not explain too much - though that could be interesting.
     
  2. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    Reality T.V. is still a huge market these days. Sounds almost like a reality show mixed with the SAW movies. Creepy and entertaining. Give it a shot. Sometimes the idea sounds great, but the feel while writing it changes and you may not like it. As you go, you can reveal more about the characters either through their thoughts, or some different way. Sounds interesting indeed!
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well think Hunger Games - a large part of the novel criticises reality shows and talent shows, to be honest - and the whole "showbiz" thing runs throughout the story. If you make it unique enough, I don't think it'd matter.

    My worry would be more the fact that you're pretty much describing Saw ¬_¬ minus the "reality show" side of things.

    Another major logical problem would be this: so you have an entire nation of twisted psychos watching people trapped in a house trying to kill each other to escape, and no one thinks to call the police, investigate, or in some way help? They're WATCHING this on their TV sets going "hahahaha!" :rolleyes: It's not really believable unless you got some messed up society - but that itself would surely be a much more interesting kind of horror than the reality show with the house of maze?
     
  4. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I reckon you need to study history.

    For example, people used to think it was socially acceptable
    to chain people up, whip them and then set them to work in
    fields.

    Public executions used to be a form of socially acceptable entertainment.

    In Roman times they fed people to Lions for sport

    Heck, today, some societies think it's a good laugh to
    stone adulterous women.
    And some societies don't mind profiting hugely from mass
    exploitation of 'third world' people. As long as they get their mobile
    phones, people are happy; and never think about the plight of the children
    being slaved in mines.

    It seems that human nature isn't as straight forward
    as you think.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    To add onto what Solar said, and to point out that you yourself referenced Hunger Games, there have always been segments of society that have enjoyed watching the punishment of others. Also, the Hunger Games deals with a futuristic society where people have been conditioned to accept this. (This element was also used in the movie The Running Man, which you might want to check out -- it was made before the wave of reality tv hit.)

    Reality tv is here to stay, so I don't think it necessarily dates your premise.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's too soon to say whether reality shows are a passing fad. I hope they are. But as long as it remains new, there is the risk your story will outlive it and be dated by it.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    They cost so little to make and there are so many channels with airtime to fill that even if their popularity wanes, they will always exist in some form.
     
  8. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, let's hope humanity comes to its senses and ditches
    television lol
     
  9. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I once watched a movie called Arena(I think) where viewers around the world would go online and watch people fight 1 on 1 to the death. It sometimes showed the viewers and some of them thought it was staged. We later learn that the security for the site makes it almost impossible for the authorities to shut down the site, let alone find where this is taking place.

    So this is just one way to go around it. Half the viewers are unsure if it's real and even if they did there is nothing they could do to stop it.

    Unfortunately I don't think reality TV is going to go anywhere. I wish reality tv and talent shows would just sorta disappear... so I think you are safe.

    But even if your story does become dated I don't think you should worry too much about it. I would just go ahead and write it.
     
  10. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Okay, just the gorgeous irony of reading a book about fictitious reality TV is enough to make this a marvelous idea. I won't watch it, but I will read about it.

    - Darkkin
     
  11. rogue writer
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    rogue writer Member

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    Well I think your idea is interesting and don't worry about dating your story. Just write it.

    BTW...I hope Chicago is right and Cog and Solar are wrong. Maybe you guys just aren't watching the 'good' reality shows :)
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps I'm too much of a "child of my time" (sheltered, privileged, safe, with mostly western and Christian values, for that is my upbringing) but I have never ever understood what the "fun" is in watching real people tortured and die grotesquely. I did actually study history and am quite apt at thinking from the perspectives of those who live outside of my period but this one aspect I've never been able to understand.

    It's things like this that always convinces me it's a load of nonsense to say "Humans are deep down naturally good" - just think how much easier it is to do evil than it is to do good. Just think of all the times when even you yourself have wanted to do good, and yet found yourself unwilling, and ultimately not doing the good you had known was good. (I don't mean you specifically)

    Back on topic - my point still stands though I think - exploring such a grotesque society would be far more interesting than the victims trapped in a house. Victims trapped in a house is easy - they wanna escape, some ultimately become extremely selfish under the circumstances and everyone's true colours come out. But the societal psyche is much more interesting. I'd say the story of a lawless society would be better - no need for mazes and traps - people are killing each other even in broad daylight and it's seen as "normal" while those very same people act like us, baking cakes for their children and laughing about movies.

    In any case, the OP's idea resembles Saw and The Hunger Games both quite closely, which as an author I'd worry about.

    PS. in response to the people who used to chain others up, whip them and set them to work - it still happens today - the sex trade. Men (and even women) kidnap desperate women and girls, drug them, rape them and abuse them, and then send them off to work the streets. And of course not just sex trade. Human-trafficking comes in all forms. The one prevalent in China is child slaves and beggars where their "owners" physically mutilate them in order to increase the amount they could beg from the streets. And all these things exist now, even in my home, and it's insane. And this is only what I know about. It's true what the Bible says: the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (this is actually an issue I'm becoming more and more stirred up by)
     
  13. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm guess I gave the impression of going the gory route which I'm not. I'm not a fan of gore , can you believe I still hide my eyes if I think a death scene is going to be too disgusting?!
    I'm even the type who grabs my knee in sympathy if an actor gets shot in the leg. Which is weird because I like horror movies ( although I haven't
    watched a lot lately they're just getting too gross for my taste. )
    My scenes were going to be more frustrating and macabre than gory or violent.
    One of the scenes was to involve a room with a banquet full of glorious food -
    the characters pile in but aren't allowed to touch the food ( and having been scavenging the house
    for the odd cans of food this is almost torture. ) The table promptly tips sliding all the food down a passage
    chute and from another opening food pours in. They have to recreate the table setting to a tee -
    without eating anything. Everytime they press a button to think they've got it right, if it's not the food
    slids off down the chute and they must start over again. They're stuck there until they've got it right.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds interesting - but what would motivate the characters NOT to eat the food? That they're trapped and if they eat (or break any other rule) then somehow they are stuck in the house forevermore or die? Or did you mean this to be just an ordinary game where at the end they get some cash prize or a house or something? What's the motivation behind the story/characters?
     
  15. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    They start off greedy thinking they'll win and readily accept the rules - to be locked in a huge mansion where the goal is to get through the obsticles and find a gold key - the only key that will allow them the to unlock the door to their freedom - with an estimate of two weeks play time. However as they see how long each task takes they realise the Game Master's estimate of a couple of weeks is a lie.

    But they can't escape , any attempts not to play result in punishments. Their are other people in the mansion ( slightly wacky characters who are gate keepers ) they unlock gates allowing them into other sectors or they show them secret passages to avoid certain avenues. Or they even misdirrect them and steal their food.

    What the players don't know but later realize is the gate keepers are former game players. Nobody does leave the house except through death. Once they realize this several of the players decide to band up with one of the more cohert game players and they try to escape which causes the Game Master to step up his nastiness. Walls swivel on pivots changing the shape of rooms and corridors which confuse the players , and nobody quite knows where they are. Like rats in a maze.

    The idea was to get the characters to a point of eliminating their materialism - most of the rooms are piled with items to sort through or confuse them with
    puzzles. Diamonds found become of little value next to a can of food , a bag of money becomes cumbersome , a fur coat is not as needy as a fresh pair of socks. The characters go from excitment to greed , to survival. The ones who still hang on to the promise of the game attempt to sabotage the escapees believing
    punishment will come if they succeed, and that their prize will be in jeopardy if they disturb the game.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But then it does sound like there's gonna be violence and gore. I still don't see, even after reading this more detailed explanation, how it's different from Saw? I mean, ok Saw's message was pretty much "You only deserve to live if you're willing to do anything and everything in your power to live because that means you actually value life" (which is messed up IMO - I only watched the 2nd one and I've regretted it ever since). Yours is similar - "You only deserve to live if you value life as it should be valued" - and it's equally twisted (well it's meant to be horror, so being twisted is not exactly a surprise)

    A potential plot hole - nobody leaves except through death. So how is it that former game players are now the gatekeepers? That means they must've lived, but they're no longer "playing the game" (or is being the keepers part of "playing" as well?) [and also, this is another Saw similarity - from Saw 2, don't you remember I think it was Amanda who was a former victim who's re-entered the house to work for Saw or whatever the scary mask is called?]

    Another plot hole would be - ok you wanted this to be a reality show. Then you must start thinking of your audience, the characters who're by their TV sets with their popcorn gasping and laughing over this, voting through phone lines who will survive and whatnots. They would not watch such a show if nobody wins the game - it'd render the whole "show" pointless for the viewing audience. It'd just be a never-ending show. Which makes me wonder - how on earth did the competitors who entered the house NOT know that there's no escape, seeing as they surely must've seen the show for themselves before and seen that nobody lives or escapes?

    So what's the moral of the story? From Saw, I got the gist that the moral is actually you have to "value" life so much that you would be willing to murder to live, which is twisted and sick and a load of crap IMO. From your story, what will it be? Those who truly value life for what it is rather than materialism would.... behave in what way? They would submit to the game master and live in the house forever because life is not about enjoyment or materialism? (but is living in confinement really "living" now? Then surely even the victims of the concentration camps of WWII should have been 'grateful' because well, life is not about materialism so they shouldn't complain about not having food and being naked etc etc etc - I'm just saying, this train of thought could be very, very sick and wrong indeed. You should decide what kinda message you're really promoting by writing something like this - books influence people and you are responsible for this - it's not just about writing a story that interests you)
     
  17. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Totally agree with you! It's really hard to describe this story because it does bring to mind Saw 2 and people are probably wincing that they'll get a rehash of
    the needle pit. I watched 3 of the Saw movies - the first was okay because it was different but I hate it now cause it kicked off the torture-horror movement. The second made me cringe and the third I couldn't even get through.

    I'm still working on the aspects of it - but it's not going to be some mindless horror where the readers watch the
    cast whittle down. I hate that! In fact, only one person was to die in the story. There was also to be a twist a big twist -
    but I could never wrap my head around how to develop it without it becoming cheesy. That there was no reality game -
    that was only a ruse to bring them to the house. ( They believed they were the first season. )

    The ones leaving the house worked together - embodying love , freedom , spiritual growth while the others who are still chasing after riches and
    allowing themselves to be tortured in the pursuit of it embodied greed , hate and spiritual corruption.
    But for now it's only an idea until I can work out the kinks. Thanks for keeping me on the right
    track as I definitly don't want to be seen as someone adding to the mindless torture-horror anthology!
     
  18. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    In my opinion, reality shows aren't dated for a background or idea. My MC (who I dreamed up in Middle School many years ago) has a background as a gladiator slave in similar fashion as realities shows. So, it's doable no matter what genre you want to fit into.

    However it's like Cognito said:

    Every story, in some shape, form or fashion has been told before. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is how YOU write it and how YOU bring it to life on the page.
     

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