1. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    Some advice if possible pweese.....

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fisher, Jul 12, 2010.

    Hi guys, wonder if I might get a little bit of advice from you all :)

    Ok so, i'm working on this idea that I have for a story, but for the last few days i've run into a brick wall on exactly what should happen. To give you all a bit of information:

    The main character is a soldier, Special Forces type. He's away on an extended deployment overseas when his family that being his wife and daughter (possibly his son too) are killed when their commercial aircraft is shot down by terrorists literally minutes after takeoff when the plane is still making its ascent.

    Now here comes the problem. I have a family for this character, a wife, daughter and a son, both children are young 4 and 6 respectively. I would like to try and arrange it so that the wife and daughter are killed (horrible I know) but the son lives. However the only way I can see that happening is if his son is NOT aboard the aircraft. I view it highly unlikely there would be any survivors of a commercial airliner being shot down, and then it crashing down into the city.

    Now maybe I'm reading too much into things and overcomplicating things.....but I have a feeling that any reader would perhaps instantly think "hang on, why wasn't his young son aboard the aircraft too with his sister and mother?"

    The alternative (and much easier thing) would be for me to have them all perish in the attack.....but I really don't want to do that, I really want this main character's son to live. But for whatever reason, I'm having problems getting this bit at the start to be plausible/make sense in my head.

    At the end of the day, i guess only I can make the call, but, if there's anyone who can offer some insight/ideas, then I'm certainly keen to hear :D

    Cheers everyone.
     
  2. Oscar Rat
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    Oscar Rat Member

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    I don't see any big problem, Fisher. There are many reasons why the son can stay behind. There's a big baseball game coming up with his school team. He's staying with a friend or aunt or something so he can play in the game.

    Oscar Rat
     
  3. OvershadowedGuy
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    OvershadowedGuy Member

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    I have to agree with Oscar, honestly make it something simple but still realistic.

    Give him the chicken pox or some random (but still real) life event that makes it impossible for him to go on the trip.

    That or go the Unbreakable route. He survives the plane crash, without a scratch.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or the plane is bombed or shot down during takeoff or landing, and not everyone is killed. The son was on his way back to his seat from the lavatory on takeoff, so the flight attendant made him strap in to a forward row seat until they reach safe altitude, at which point he would be escorted back to his mother and sister's row...
     
  5. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    He was sick and stayed with a relative. He wanted to go but his mother wouldn't let him. Problem solved.
     
  6. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    Some of the idea's you guys have thrown around I have thought of already, but in my mind they seemed almost too "convenient"......however, if everyone else is thinking up similar idea's to myself, I guess I may have been on the right track all along and I'm just making this harder than it needs to be :p

    I'll throw some more thought into it and see what I come up with. Your inputs though are greatly appreciated, glad I came here :)
     
  7. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    If they seem convenient because they're events that the son luckily had to attend, why not make him scared of flying?

    - Andy
     
  8. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    You forget that the lord works in mysterious ways. It all depends on how important the son is to your story as a whole. If the rest of it's going to be about how the soldier gets back to the states to take care of his kid, raising him as a single father, and stuff like that, then the son has to live. Any way you keep him alive is a good way.

    A shoulder launched missile is a little small to obliterate a whole airliner, the initial damage wouldn't be so bad if it was struck in the rear, and if we're assuming it's heat seeking then the aircraft would probably be struck, or encounter an explosion in the proximity of the engine. Now if they were flying something like a 737 or a smaller Airbus this would cause the wing to disintegrate or explode, since it's full of gas. But the MD-11, also known as the DC-9, spits out all it's heat directly at the rear. This puts the explosion ready to take out the APU/GPU systems as well as several sets of hydraulics for the tail section, but not the whole airliner.

    I mention all of that because I see a crash landing as an easy way to give the boy a chance to stay alive while killing off the daughter and mother. After all, he doesn't have to be the sole survivor, he could be one of 13, or 7, or 3. (I'd use a holy number.)

    And I hope the other stuff about aircraft gets you thinking about what the pilots would be doing. You should also pin down an airport and get some VFR Maps (Google search VFR Maps Online) so you can figure out exactly where planes fly out and fly into the airport. For example I know many times when I've flown out of LAX we start our initial ascent over the ocean, then take a nearly 180 degree turn and fly back towards land. Fact checking your plane crash will keep it seeming very real, and you'll have an easier time integrating the deus ex machina that keeps the son alive.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You could make the terrorist strike against the plane be one which is somewhat botched. The reason for the botch gives you all kind of room to then paint and describe your terrorist to the reader. The terrorist should not be a flat, nothing character. The plane doesn't get utterly destroyed and the ensuing panic on board the plane, fire, smoke inhalation, trampling, etc. could then be your cause for why mom and daughter are dead and the son isn't.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe the son is from an earlier relationship, and has a different mother from his sister. Maybe he wasn't on the plane because he was visiting his biological mother as per the custody-sharing agreement.

    Maybe an uncle or some other relative had taken the boy to a baseball game and got stuck in traffic bringing him to the airport, so he missed the plane. The uncle was arranging to get the boy onto the next plane.

    Maybe the boy had was attending some cub scout trip and had already gone somewhere else with his friends and scout leaders.

    Maybe the mother just forgot to bring him - the "Home Alone" scenario. (This probably only works in a comedy, of course ... hee hee).

    As others have said, there are many plausible reasons for the son to survive.
     
  11. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    You mention alot of valid points there Lettuce. I should probably mention that my story will be set in the not too distant future, specifically the year 2018. I am British, so at the start this is going to be a British event, British characters etc....cept maybe the terrorists :p. The airport will naturally be Heathrow, and the unfortunate airliner will belong to British Airways.

    Now, naturally every terrorist event that occurs, those behind them are always trying to make a point/gain attention. And I have done my homework on the Airbus A380 airliner, specifically and British Airways plan to start using these aircraft in their fleet from 2012 onwards.

    Any successfull attack in bringing one of those beasts down, given the fact at full capacity they will hold some 550 odd passengers is sure to get everybody's attention.

    Next point would be the fact the A380 is literally a monster aircraft, so one missile unless its a SERIOUS piece of kit perhaps wouldn't be enough to bring it down/obliterate it.....BUT there is the possibility that the terrorists are aware of this and plan accordingly, multiple launch sites in the planes path, all firing at once at the aircraft to essentially bring it down in a joint effort.

    God this all sounds terrible if it ever were to happen......thankfully its only a story :) It does show one thing.....the intricate thought and planning a writer puts into their story if they are truely serious :D

    There's definatley alot for me to think on that's for sure, but the advice/support i'm getting here so far is great.
     
  12. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's only too convenient if it solves a pre-existing problem.

    For example, if the father dreams about getting a spot in the first permanent colony on Mars, but is forced to decline because colonists are only allowed to bring one family member, then killing off his wife and daughter in a plane crash would be too convenient (and even then, you could easily get away with it if it's in the beginning of the story).

    If, however, the wife and daughter dies first, and only after that does the father get the idea of going to Mars, then it's just the normal randomness of life.

    All hands in a game of poker are equally improbable. Getting a two of spades, four of clubs, six of clubs, seven of hearts and jack of spades is no more probable than getting a ten, jack, queen, king and ace of hearts. A poker hand is only remarkable if you predict it beforehand.

    So is it with the hands life deals. Real life is full of strange coincidences - one day, you see five cars in a row whose license plates all end with the same letter, another day, you think of a high school friend who became a dancer and are asked to go to a dance performance two minutes later. Events like these are plentiful, and are only remarkable if someone predicts them beforehand, or they play into the hands of someone's plans.
     
  13. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    Yes. That is terrible. Everything I said about crash landing and stuff goes out the window considering the plane you've chosen. It's just too big. On takeoff, a single missile striking the engine would take the whole thing down pretty fast, stalling it and letting it fall out of the sky. It's also on a fly by wire system if I remember correctly, so a power outage would cause their glass cockpit to go almost completely dark. For more info follow Google link "Heathrow approach plates" should be the fourth one down, titled Online Procedures. I didn't check for any additional information. The majority of help in that document is it's mention of the various zones the plane has to fly through.

    Now, for anti aircraft missiles that terrorists can buy...

    Looks like Google search for "MANPAD" Man Portable Air Defense Systems produces the first link Wikipedia, which includes a reference to every aircraft shot down by terrorist groups. Like I had thought, their weapon of choice seems to be the SA-7. The USA's CAMPS system is a non-pyrotechnic infrared jamming device that could defend against an SA-7, since they are guided by passive infrared, or in other words, heat seeking, sensors. CAMPS has been around and I believe is being used in warzones at the moment. But this sounds more like a sneak attack/first strike by the terrorists, so I doubt they'd equip the plane with such a device.
     
  14. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    Well, one of the reasons that I have chosen to write this kind of story is that I have quite a deep interest in military history and military weapons/equipment. I have already done some reading up on the various MANPADS out there, and the SA-7/Strela that you mentioned was one of the weapons I was considering using, its Soviet/Russian in origin and the Russians are known the world over for their past time of exporting large quantities of weapons.

    There's also the Anza, a similar weapon but produced locally in Pakistan. Both weapons, given who their manufacture of origin, could be valid for the baddies to use in my story for this airline attack. Given the size of the A380, I may consider writing in a two pronged launch, missile for each side of the aircraft, but perhaps one would be enough to defnatley bring it down.

    I can't wait till I get more into the story, and start getting to grips with my main character though and what his plans are :D
     
  15. OvershadowedGuy
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    OvershadowedGuy Member

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    Well if you're setting it 8 years in the future make sure your technology is up-to-date as well.

    and yes, one missile should suffice...
     
  16. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    Oh don't worry, I have considered things from a tech perspective ;)
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm a mother of 7, grandmom of 19 [at last count] and i have to say i can't think of any reason why parents of such young children would leave one of them behind and fly off on a trip to anywhere, other than if the not-travelling child had a different mother or father and was with that parent on a legally-enforced 'visitation' [as my ex used to call it, when my 2 youngest kids had to do it], while the rest of his family went on their vacation...

    none of the other suggested reasons for him to not be with them make any sense, imo, sound like just cheesy devices for the writer to let the kid live...
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe you could make the son's absence seem less coincidental and convenient if you make it part of a major subplot, rather than a minor thing like, "But I'll miss the Little League championship game!". And for some reason, it feels less concidental to me if the wife-and-daughter are flying _to_ wherever the boy is, instead of away from him.

    Random thoughts:

    - Boy is sick and stayed home. The illness continues as a plot element throughout the story. If you don't want a dying-child plot, he could be getting treatment for something - vision issue? Mobility issue? Learning disability?

    - Same as above, but boy was at the plane's destination, getting treatment. For some reason the mother and sister had to be away for a time, and they're now returning.

    - Boy is the main character's nephew, not son. MC adopted him when the boy's father, MC's brother, died (and so did his wife), and the boy is off visiting his mother's side of the family.

    - Boy is a tiny genius and was off at a school or academic testing place.

    - MC is divorced or had an affair, and boy was off visiting his birth mother.

    - Wife was going to be uanvailable for some reason - maybe _she's_ sick - and the best people for the son to stay with were not the same as the best people for the daughter to stay with. So boy's been dropped off at adventure camp, and the wife is flying the daughter to stay with her grandparents. You could make a whole guilt-soaked undercurrent out of this - did the MC support his wife enough in her illness? Would his wife and daughter be alive if his wife hadn't had to fly the daughter to camp?

    ChickenFreak
     
  19. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    I agree with this. I'm currently planning to fly interstate for a friend’s wedding this year without children. Even though it's only for one night, the logistics of coordinating children in my absence and physically leaving them is easier said than done.

    The ages of the children in your story are far too young. Most kids that I know, don't start 'sleeping over' at other homes (except for grandparents) until at least four years old. I would not leave my kids with anyone overnight except for their father - ESPECIALLY if they were sick.. so don't go there. It's rare for parents to travel without their young kids, without extremely good reason. Sorry, the excuses given to keep the kid out of the plane are not plausible imo.

    I would find away to keep the kid alive on the plane.


    Good luck
     
  20. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    Looks like that may be the path I'll have to try and take. Needless to say, it is a thorn....at least for me :(
     
  21. Fisher
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    Fisher New Member

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    Hey guys, just to let you know that I have decided to go down the path of having my main character's 6 year old son be on the aircraft, and survive the crash, while injured of course etc and all that.

    I think it will be good....I can use it actually to fuel/influence my main character's choices and actions later on in the story. Having pretty much your whole family killed in an attack on the plane, to then seeing your very young son lying helpless and injured in a hospital bed.....i'm quite sure that would make any father, (especially one with the skills of my main character) want to seek justice/revenge against those who have caused this tragedy

    I really think I need to just sit down and start writing though, I'm coming up with all these different idea's but I haven't actually started writing yet haha :)
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    gotta ditto nervous first's post!

    here's why, from a mom's/grandmom's pov:

    no mother's gonna leave an ill or otherwise in need of treatment 6-yr-old home and go off on a vacation!

    highly unlikely, since the mother wouldn't leave him, but if she had no choice, would insist the father stay with him...

    too big a stretch to be believable...

    same as being treated for whatever... wouldn't work at 6...

    only suggestion that could be believable, but still a pretty obvious bit of writer desperation...

    4-yr-olds don't go to camp... but you seem to be confusing which one goes to camp... and this whole thing is too cheesily contrived, imo...

    having the boy survive the crash is really the only thing that makes good sense... why is that 'a thorn' for you?... it happens all the time... just don't make him the only survivor...
     
  23. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    It could depend on your genre of choice, but I did read a book (Raven's Gate) where the family was going to wedding, but what was percieved as a survival instinct (it was really psychic-ish magical powers) persuaded the boy that going would be a bad idea, so he cried and faked illness until the parents left him with a sitter, inadvertently driving into their own demises (a car crash). This would be a good idea because it would leave the boy with lots of guilt afterwards, which is good for the ole' "some things can't be controlled"/"it's never your fault" character development.
     
  24. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about the Mother is having to take the Daughter to some specialized hospital because she is sick. The boy on the other hand is staying with an uncle or grandparents. Also why not make the kid older? Does he necessarily have to be so young?

    Anyways good luck.
     
  25. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    You know what I just thought? My mom used to leave my six year old self to random sitters in Vegas all the time.

    Family life doesn't have rules.
     

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