Tags:
  1. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,218
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA

    "Through a series of predictable events, Helen Chert. I am your daughter!"

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Link the Writer, Jun 22, 2011.

    I wanted your opinion on predictable plot points.

    Let's pretend that a plot centers on an orphaned teenaged girl that travels to the past to see her parents when they were alive. She doesn't tell the two other main protagonists that she is their child from the future. Instead, she just pretends to be a stowaway on their ship.

    However, as the book progresses, she leaves the readers clues such as knowing her way around a ship that, for all intents and purposes for the crew, she has never been on. She acts like she knows various other characters.

    Somewhere in the climax, she reveals by accident that she is in fact their child and she did, in fact, know this ship because...she's the captain of it in her future. Something like "Of course I know this ship, mother! I'm the captain of it!" while the two are trying to steer the ship away from enemy fire.

    Now, my question is: How would you disguise all of that so the readers won't say, "I knew this was coming from Page 1." Is it possible anymore, given the many, many times we've seen variations of the "I Am Your Parent/Child" deal?

    Discuss! :D
     
  2. Suadade
    Offline

    Suadade Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2011
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Sweden
    Well, do we know from the get-go that this girl travelled back in time? I'd say if I knew a girl was a time-traveller, and she went back in time and met a man and woman who are a couple, it'd be a knee-jerk reaction for me to just think parents. You know? So if you're telling your readers that bit about the girl, that might pose a problem.
     
  3. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,218
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Well, it's from the perspective of the captain of the present who meets this girl. They do not know until near the end that she actually came from the future to see them. It's not until the VERY end that the captain learns that the girl is her daughter.

    The reason I asked was because readers of Paolini's second book Eldest said they could already figure out the relation of Eragon and Murtagh well before the climax where Murtagh told Eragon the truth. I'm just thinking that readers might suspect that the whole parantage thing could come up.

    Another problem presented itself: Wouldn't it be boring if her going to the past was "just to see my dead parents alive again"? I mean, usually when people go back in time in stories, it's to warn of a horrible event that is to occur and how to avert it.

    I guess I could use the "just to see them again" excuse with the girl, and have them all involved in some big, dangerous adventure.

    But then again, I think she'd tell them, if it means the difference between her having parents in this timeline or not.
     
  4. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I think you have to think of the logical consequences of someone going back in time and changing the past. This is as important - maybe more important - than the motivation for going back in time. Your plot could be as much about unintended consequences as about the interaction between the girl and her parents.

    I think you also have to think about what a parent of a child would say if, while the child was still quite young, and adult approached them and said, "Hi, I'm your son/daughter visiting you from 20 years in the future. Turn the ship around or we're all dead." Not good. Even worse, what if someone 20 years older than you came up to you one day and introduced himself as your future self? Serious meds, I'm thinking.

    Besides, remember what Charles Yu wrote in How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: "If you ever see yourself coming out of a time machine, run. Run away as fast as you can. Don't stop. Don't try to talk. Nothing good can come of it...Just run."

    Sage advice, that.
     
  5. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,218
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Good point.

    What if the daughter accidentally started a war?* What if, through her actions, she caused the very thing that orphaned her in the first place? Or worst, caused her to not exist at all if she managed to visit her parents before they had children?

    It could create alternate timelines. One is her own timeline, another is her parents if she had never gone back in time, and the third is the one she personally created.

    Time is a tricky beast. Change one thing, one tiny, tiny thing and the consequences could be incalculable. If she went back to say, "Hey mum and dad!" then she should be prepared for more reprecussions than a little spot of tea in the officer's quarters then a tearful farwell as she returns to her own timeline.

    To me, it makes for a far more interesting story, to have someone go back in time for wholly innocent purposes and wind up causing a catastrophe.

    * The "starting a war by accident" thing is looking interesting all of a sudden...
     
  6. darkhaloangel
    Offline

    darkhaloangel Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    5
    Don't know if you've seen Dr Who? But the storyline recently was just like this - almost exactly I'd say.

    The way they wrote it, wasn't so predictable until later on and that's because they focused on the relationship between the 'daughter' and another character rather than the 'daughter' and 'parents'. So to make it not predicable they used a lot of misdirection.
     
  7. colorthemap
    Offline

    colorthemap Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    3
    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    This is not sci-fi and we can't have magical paper and Tardis Translation circuits.

    But we should have known the way she was so kind to Rory.
     
  8. Diphenhydramine
    Offline

    Diphenhydramine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    York GB
    Yay, first post.

    In my opinion a predictable storyline isn't necessarily a bad thing; after all, life can be pretty predictable sometimes. It does, however, depend on what you write. If the plotline is the spine of your story and you have a heart and a brain and two lungs, then it doesn't matter if the plotline is predictable. If you want to make whatever you're writing about a particular set of themes or ideas or a representation of something, the storyline is less important... but if you are writing chiefly for the plotline, perhaps its best to avoid some predictability - or at least, make it an original predictability.
     
  9. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    This type of time-travel story is so common, you'd have to do some major magic to hide it from the reader. It might be better to just be open with it from the start, and build the suspense of the story on something else.
     
  10. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    You don't have to. Some successful time travel stories do, some come up with ways to avoid the consequences (convergent history, multiverse...) and some just ignore the issue. What matters is that the writer carries the reader along.
     
  11. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    I just had to say this:

    The title of the thread reminded me of the opening line to the movie Serenity (or was it Firefly?), "Curse you for your inevitable, yet predictable betray!" :)
     
  12. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,218
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I think it was, "Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!"

    But yeah, I'm not surprised it reminded you of that.
     

Share This Page