1. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sympathizing with insanity - and how far would you go?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by WriterDude, Jul 1, 2011.

    Not sure how to put this, but it's a vital part of the story I'm writing, and I need some advice. Without giving away too much, imagine this scenario:

    You are in a car crash, and the last thing you remember before you pass out is thinking there's no way you can survive. When you wake up again, it's three weeks later. You have been in a coma, but most of the wounds are healed by now. The biggest problem is you are not in a hospital. You are inside, but inside where? Someone apparently saved you, but why didn't they bring you to the hospital?

    The answer is a bit tricky. If you know your superheroes, you know most of them have a secret identity. Now imagine a superhero like Batman without a civilian identity. He has to stay as Batman 24/7 and dedicate his life to help people and fight crime, but he can never reveal himself in public. Not even as Batman, comstume and everything. And now imagine he was born and raised to become Batman. He got the "job" when he was 15, and he has lived like that in solitude the last 20 years. He is doomed to always watch society and help out where he's needed, but he can never be a part of it. He saves the city on a regular basis, yet no one can ever know he even exist, or that they were in danger in the first place.

    And now imagine he was the one who kidnapped you. His motives were quite simple: Although he hate to admit it even to himself, he was desperate for a friend. He really, really needed someone to talk to, to spend some time with. The reason he kidnapped you was a coincidence. You were dying, and he rescued you. But he regret doing it and say he should have taken you to a hospital instead. Now that you know he exist, he can't allow himself to let you live. The only choice you have is join him as an equal crime fighter. Or become Robin, to put it like that. But he also say that if you do, you can never tell your family that you are still alive. You will always be all alone with him. If you tried to escape, he would kill you. But also keep in mind that if you got away somehow or if he killed you, you would have doomed him to be all alone forever. He's a victim just as much as you. The kidnapping part was bad, but he was desperate. The loneliness was driving him insane. He had to do something to survive. Kidnapping you was not the perfect solution, but he saw no other choice.

    So the question is quite simple: What would it take for you to join him?
     
  2. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    That's a really good idea, not sure I would have it as superheroes though... but I would 100% buy that book based on what you said.
     
  3. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't worry, they are not superheroes. That was just an example to give you an idea what I'm talking about. The question is if it's plausible that you would accept that your life is over and join this Batman-character and live 100% under a new identity? I think the best way would be to give you a good reason to join him, but I'm having a hard time with it. Either it's too ridiculous (making the MC want to run away), or it's too easy to make the MC want to give up his own life and live as a secret superhero. The hard part is the balance.
     
  4. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    1. Give him an ugly scar face from the accident, so he is barely recognizable. That makes him feel he isn't accepted by his friends/family.
    2. He feels his life belongs to the superhero (like native americans believed). This can be part of his upbringing.
     
  5. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't exactly call him insane. He's just socially awkward, so of course he doesn't know how to deal with loneliness like most people do.

    I guess emphasis on his past and how he was raised would convince me to stay with him, but not by much. I'd have to go crazy myself to bring myself to stay with him forever and not attempt to kill him in his sleep. Have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome? That would probably convince anyone to stay with him. I haven't studied the syndrome myself, so I suggest doing extensive research on it and reading a few case studies. That helps.

    To leave all that I ever known and loved behind for someone as weird and socially awkward as the man you talk about, would probably hint to the reader that I am the insane one, not him. As I mentioned before, Stockholm Syndrome is the only thing that comes to mind.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm swedish but I had never heard about that, at least not what I remember. really interesting point.
     
  7. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    The "sidekick"'s life was crap to begin with, he was an orphan without any close friends, and he thinks life as a hero sounds exciting.
     
  8. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Tesoro_ It's based on a case study where people were kept hostage by bank robbers back in 1973. The hostages eventually became attached to their captives and, upon being saved, actually defended the bank robbers. Very interesting. It's all on Wikipedia. And, don't worry, not many people know about it. I first heard about Stockholm Syndrome from a song I heard.

    This syndrome falls under paradoxical psychology.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I googled it and found some information. It happened before I was born and I have never studied psychology so I guess that's why :) interesting syndrome, the human brain sure works in mysterious ways...
     
  10. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now I kind of wonder why I know what Stockholm Syndrome is. Guess I've been watching too much CSI and Criminal Minds :rolleyes:

    But back to the question. What if the character wakes up with no memory other than the car crash? Then "Batman" could take advantage of that and pretend "Robin" has been with him all along. Then Robin regaining his memory could be part of the story. Though I also like him being so disfigured that he can't bring himself to be seen by others agian.
     
  11. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the input, everyone.To clearify a bit, let's call these people the guardian and hostage. The guardian has been alone his entire life, but for a good reason. He saves the city on a regular basis and will keep doing it as long as he's able. The problem is no one can ever know he exists. When he rescued the hostage from the car crash, he did a big mistake. Even he knows it, and he really wish he could have undone what he did and just left the guy in the car to die. That's the insanity-part. He was so desperate for a friend that he kidnapped the other guy, just so he wouldn't be alone anymore. He didn't exactly plan it, and he regret it five mintues later. But what's done is done. He can't just kill the hostage, and he can't keep him alive.

    As for the hostage, he had a great life with a decent job, loving wife, three loving kids and all that. The problem is he is assumed to be dead (short version is a body swap, so the cops found a dead body in the car and identified as the hostage). If he were to return to life, there would be too many questions, and it could lead to the guardian being discovered. The guardian has spent the last 20 years making sure no one found him, and for a great reason. Letting the hostage go is not an option, simply because it would jeopardize everything. Even the safety of the city, and possibly the world. That's why the only solution is to either kill the hostage or have the hostage become his partner. And as both of them are the main characters, they are stuck as partners. The trick is to make the hostage understand how the guardian thinks and all that, and find a way to forgive him. The guardian on his side has to learn to live with a partner, and they both need to learn to trust each other somehow. The stakes are skyhigh, and if either of them makes a mistake, it can have dramatic consequenses for a lot of people.

    Even so, I want the story to focus on the two characters, and not about saving the world and all that. That's just a bonus. ;)
     
  12. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I absolutely love the idea you set up, first. :)

    That's such a tough question, though. I'd really want to go back out into society, and I'd hate the fact that my family would think I was dead or ran away or something, but at the same time, I don't think I could leave him. I'd probably deliberate a while, but in the end I think I'd stay, because he's not a bad person, and I like being alone anyway, so why not be alone with him?
     
  13. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's exactly what I was aiming for. I'm not so sure I can use the "I like being alone anyway", though. I do like being alone, but all alone with some other guy the rest of my life? But if i knew the world was in trouble and I could do my share of protecting it by staying with him, it would be a different matter. Protect a world I don't know if is danger or try to get home to my family? Can I take a chance and say he's lying about the world being in danger part? What if he's telling the truth? What if he's not? If I do get back to my family, would I be safe there? Would they be safe then? In the end the MC will have to stay, and I think the reader will understand it. Thanks everyone! :)
     
  14. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Google - Patty Hearst - the American newspaper heiress.
    She was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbioneses liberation army,she joined her captors in a bank robbery for which she did time. She was given a presidential pardon by Bill Clinton.

    Her story might help give you some insight into what you want to know.
     
  15. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Joined her captors? Sound a lot like the Stockhom syndrome to me. But thanks, I've solved the problem. :)
     
  16. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    Mr. Brooks with Kevin Costner did a good job revealing the insane serial killer's flaws and yet providing some sympathetic moments and dark comedy. I'd look to that as a guide.
     
  17. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks. I would watch it, but... it's Kevin Costner. Do I have to? :D

    Just kidding. Thanks, I might give it a try. But as I said, I solved the problem. I made it sure the MC knows the kidnapper really regrets what he did, and although they don't trust each other much yet, they got off to a decent start. The MC misses his old life, but he also sees a lot of potential in the new one. Let's just say Batman isn't the only high-tech superhero. ;)
     
  18. benfromcanada
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    I'm probably not the typical person. I'm fed up with life in general, the monotony of it, the loneliness that comes from too much work, not enough pay, and family and friends that you either never see or that you see as unreliable, deceitful. I'm sick of who I am, where I am in my life, what I am. To me, this hostage thing would be a welcome reprieve, a chance to start over. To actually do something with my life. I'd miss the stress and bull**** for about a minute, maybe.

    Maybe your Robin could be the truly insane one? Perhaps he wants this life too much to be counted as truly sane? Or maybe he just wants to cause pain, reciprocate what he's felt tenfold on anyone he can? That would be a sweet twist, no?
     
  19. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem is this Batman-character has no problem killing anyone he has to, but that doesn't mean he likes it. Killing is always the last way out. He sees himself as an invisible warrior fighting an invisible war, and he never kills civilians. The Robin-character is in many ways very different from Batman, but he was chosen for a reason. Sure I could send them on a killing spree to end the war once and for all, but that would take away the focus of the story. It's not about killing stuff. It's not about protecting the world, or even letting Robin get his life back. It's about their relationship and what it means to be truly alone. They are superheroes, yes, and of course there will be action. But the action takes a backseat to the drama. If Robin only had been interested in killing people, Batman would have killed him right away with ease.
     
  20. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I know, I know. I can't watch a Kevin Costner movie without thinking about Robin Hood or Field of Dreams, but this one is VERY different from the Kevin Costner you know from other movies. Trust me. It's really quite good.
     
  21. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Once you have seen Waterworld, you can't un-see it. :D
     
  22. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    When I first read the opening post, I got an overwhelming feeling of familiarity over your ideas but I couldn't put my finger on it untill now.

    Jason Bourne!!!!!!!

    A lot of the ideas remided me the Bourne series - the amensiac patient with undeniable skill, who kidnaps a girl form a Zurich bank all the while trying to figure out who is he both as a person and as an assassin, and the conspiracy surrounding him. Though it reminded me more of the movies than the books, I got a deja vu feeling when I first read your post. (movies are loosely looooooooosely based on the books).

    The other two movie your post reminded me of was the Truman Show and Pleasantville - which is living in a "alternative" realities. Sort of opposite of some of your ideas but same in some ways.
     
  23. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Jason Bourne? Interesting, that connection never even occured to me. Maybe because the only 'connections' is the kidnapping and great skill as an assassin. Both kidnapper and captive knows who they are, so there's no amnesia involved, and the kidnapper doesn't have to figure out who he is. He already knows. Same with the captive. In that way, it's far more like Robocop, as in the captive 'died', so no one can know he exists. Or to use the Batman example, Bruce Wayne died in the car crash and was reborn as Batman. His wife can hear rumors about Batman and even learn that it is a real person, and in theory she can worship him as a hero eventually. But even then she will never know that Batman is her 'dead' husband. Bruce Wayne on the other hand knows perfectly well who his wife is. He will always be forced to watch her live her life without him and thinking he's dead, and she can eventually move on and marry someone else. She could even do a Lois Lane and confess her love for Batman. But even then he can never return the love. And yes, this was a bit confusing, but I hope you know what I mean.

    I see what you mean by alternate realities. That's in many ways spot-on. When Bruce Wayne 'died', he abandoned everything he knew about reality and was forced to live in another reality he could never have dreamed about. It's still the same reality, but he sees a different part of it.
     

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