1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    156

    Reasons for a backdoor to lead to a dead end?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Mikmaxs, Jan 29, 2017.

    This is a minor story point, but I'd like there to be a point in my WIP where my main character goes through a back door from a restaurant into an alley and finds herself stuck. The problem is, I can't think of a good reason why both directions would be blocked off - I can put a fence or a wall on one side, but there's no good reason why her way would be blocked on both sides.

    For context, this is (sort of, it works as a basic description,) a city in the old west, and she's trying to hide from the police.
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    411
    Location:
    The People's Republic of New Hampshire
    Obvious answer would be it was an old door they never removed. Maybe it led to an outbuilding that no longer exists. The alley that goes nowhere is more troubling. Not sure how to explain that.
     
  3. Viridian

    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    217
    Location:
    New Zealand
    What about moveable objects at one end blocking her way, something like large rubbish bins or a truck that has blocked the entrance.
     
  4. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    156
    A cart with food and other supplies that got backed into the alley and hasn't been moved could do the trick.
     
    Viridian likes this.
  5. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    6,335
    Likes Received:
    5,844
    Slapdash construction in a boom town - used to be a one-ended alley, then someone built something right up against the opening, blocking the exit.
     
    Wreybies and Mikmaxs like this.
  6. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    346
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Like the others, I'd go with an urban development snafu. Once it was a dead end alley with one end opening on to a street. However the neighbours got planning permission to extend their building across the open end - possibly because the affected neighbours didn't object. Maybe they got a financial compensation for agreeing.

    The other option is that initially the building was a house in the city with a walled off back garden. At some point it became a commercial premises and the back yard simply became dead space.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Simpson17866 and Mikmaxs like this.
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    9,565
    Likes Received:
    6,077
    Does it have to be an alley? Maybe it's some sort of utility area associated with the building, and it has a locked gate so that someone doesn't steal whatever's there. It could be dog kennels, poultry, the place that they store the firewood, etc.
     
  8. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    468
    Likes Received:
    331
    If it's an old building, bars and restaurants often had hidden alleyways during prohibition.
     
  9. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    East Coast USA
    Building off of what ChickenFreak said, perhaps the door was supposed to be locked, but hadn't been when your character opened the door.
     
  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Who wants waffles...? Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,413
    Likes Received:
    2,779
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Maybe they had a break area walled off for staff?

    IDK, the old west doesn't strike me as one to have backdoors to nowhere.
     
  11. iRoppa

    iRoppa Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    16
    From my experience with film and literature old west towns didn't use walls for containment purposes; a wall was a side of a building. There were fences but most of those were waist height for aesthetic value only. For an alley as you're describing it, I'd say it would have to be a conjoining of buildings, but - depending on your setting - they had lots of room back then so buildings weren't particularly close together.

    Also, this ^
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    9,565
    Likes Received:
    6,077
    But. But. People can store things outdoors. And if they do, they're going to want to enclose them and protect them. So why not a lock?

    I realize I'm repeating my original post, but my point is that I don't see why this is an issue at all.

    She rushed out the back door and found herself in the saloon's fenced storage yard. Thank goodness, no dog. She picked her way between the puddles and the manure toward the gate in the looming fence, then stopped. Dammit. A shiny new lock hung from the hasp--probably the only new thing on the whole property.

    Edited to edit the example, just because.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
    Mikmaxs likes this.
  13. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    156
    I ended up writing around this scene entirely. A fenced enclosure was what I was *going* to go with, but I ended up striking on other problems that didn't have as easy of solutions. Thank you for the help, though!
     
    iRoppa likes this.

Share This Page