1. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Transformation

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Flying Geese, Sep 1, 2013.

    My MC is a character who is a well trained soldier, but he freezes up at the beginning of his first battle. In this battle i have thought of some ways that the MC could snap out of his fear, and begin to use the skills he knows he has. At this moment, the main character essentially transforms...

    This isn't really a creative moment. I just want to know ways that you would snap out of your fear if you were in a life or death situation. What are some practical ideas for this?
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doctors on their first day experience something like this, especially if there's an emergency. Those who spent a lot of time in hospitals observing and assisting, and doing role play consultations and simulated emergency scenarios, do best. Those with much less practically based training freeze up a lot more.

    From personal experience, the code blue noise is broadcast, your pager starts to beep and your legs suddenly turn to lead. Your heart sinks and head goes all fuzzy and for what seems like eternity, but in reality is only a few seconds, you freeze. You search your head but all you can remember are snippets of information and all of a sudden, you can't think of a single thing you're supposed to be doing.

    Then the responsibility kicks in. It's really happening, and if you don't move your butt, someone's gonna die. The flashbacks of relevant memories start to come back, Airway, Breathing, Circulation, causes for collapse, the treatments. With legs and arms like jello, you start to run.

    By the time you reach the emergency, your body goes into an automatic mode and you start doing things. Then others arrive and it all passes as a blur. It's not your best resuscitation, buy hey, the guy survived and you didn't make any serious mistakes. People pat you on the back and tell you "Well done!" and you just know the next time, it'll be a hell of a lot easier. I think first battle probably feels the same.
     
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  3. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Wow, i seriously didn't expect such a great and spot-on reply! I am in your debt
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aw, I'm glad it helped :)
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Has he been taught how to deal with adrenaline dumps? How to control fear or tunnel vision?

    While I don't know if doctors are taught this, I'd imagine wherever your character was trained to be a soldier, they'd take adrenaline management into consideration in training.

    So he thinks back to his training, and that might help him snap out? I mean, if he's well-trained, shouldn't he be able to do that?

    (this comment is based on the feedback me and my writing partner received on a similar scene where a soldier froze in battle from people who knew soldiers or had soldiered themselves)
     
  6. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Oh, Katrian can you please elaborate on your scene?
     
  7. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Ok so i would really like to discuss this with you guys. The reason i call it a " transformation" is because the way I see it, something should happen for the MC to snap out of it, and do what needs to be done. I don't know if you are familiar with DragonBall Z but there was a character named Gohan who hated fighting. So the villain had his minions beat Gohan's friends and family to within an inch of their lives. Gohan still didn't fight. When one of the friends who just "loved life" finally got killed, Gohan snapped. He transformed into what's known as a "Super Saiyan 2". From that point on, Gohan was pretty much a badass. Almost a monster. But something had to happen to push him over the edge like that. I'm trying to come up with ways to get my MC to that cliff...and then push him off :)
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, the big difference is that the character doesn't snap out of it until the shootout is over, and her "transformation" happens afterwards when she debriefs the incident with her squad mates. During their next gig, she overcomes the fear and performs as expected. But you probably want your character to unfreeze during the action? Perhaps he hears the voice of his team leader, shouting at him ("what the fuck are you standin' there for you worthless piece of shit? Hey, someone get a cup of man the fuck up to this clowndick before he shits his fucking pants!") and that pulls him back to reality, reminds him of his training, and after that what's been hammered into him (he's conditioned to act in a certain at this point, I'd wager, and a lot of things have become instinctive) come out as if automatically, he seeks cover, returns fire, etc.

    And sorry, no, not familiar with Dragonball Z :/
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The scene you're describing sounds as if the character had a moral conflict, and needed something to push him over the edge. Like in a civil war, a neighbour doesn't go against neighbour until the other side kills his family, at which point he retaliates.

    One of my best mates is an ex SAS trooper. The way he describes it is very matter of fact. No over-thinking, no emotion. You have to shoot first, get the job done and get out of there. He is a sniper sharp shooter, and he still remembers every single person he killed. He isn't a psychopath, he detests war and violence, but he has no moral conflict about doing his job. But he belongs to the utmost elite of his profession. For ordinary soldiers, studies were done, the hit rate on the battlefield (ordinary shooting with guns, face to face, seldom seen these days) was between 10 and 15% and after a long time analysing the psychology of it ('killology' they called it) it was concluded that moral objection to murder was the main reason for such a poor hit rate.

    With medicine, there is hardly any moral conflict because you know you are doing a good thing. War involves murder and psychology of first performance can be different, depending on the individual psychology and motivations.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is something I've heard and read too. I'm always reminded of this alleged dialogue between a reporter and a sniper:
    Reporter: What do you feel when you shoot people?
    Sniper: Recoil, ma'am.

    There might be a diff between someone being drafted to war (forced) than someone being a professional soldier who might have a better idea of what they're getting into, and how these to types tackle the moral side. If your character is well-trained, you probably have to deal with the psychology of the latter.
     
  11. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If the character is well-trained, he's been given tools to cope with the effects of adrenaline KaTrian already mentioned. There are ways to break out of a paralysis caused by a sudden burst of adrenaline (something that most people mistake for fear/terror), such as forcing yourself to move. Action is probably the simplest cure to freezing and also the best way to prevent it. For instance, in the context of a "regular" street tussle, many experienced or well-trained folks have predetermined triggers that tell them what to do (usually to attack with their go-to technique).

    For example, a famous self-defense instructor, Geoff Thompson, used to have a trigger he called the three touch-rule (or something like that): while the bg was still mouthing off at him, he would hold his hands up, palms out, a very relaxed, submissive stance. If the aggressor moved close enough that he touched Geoff's lead hand, he'd gently push him back. If the aggressor touched his lead hand three times, that set off the trigger and Geoff would pre-emptively attack, usually with a right hook or cross, going straight for the KO.

    There are other such triggers people set for themselves so that they minimize the need to make actual decisions in the heat of battle because decisions cost time and time can cost lives in a fight. In the context of a battle between two opposing forces in a war, triggers might be things like seeing a gun, for instance:."if I see a gun, I know I'm in mortal danger, so I will shoot." Or if someone doesn't stop when you tell them to: You might tell them to stop twice, and if they don't, that sets off your trigger and you shoot.

    I'm mostly familiar with these things from a self-defense point of view, so you might want to ask experienced soldiers/LEOs how they deal with adrenaline, ask people who train soldiers or LEOs what methods they teach to handle / avoid freezing etc. and I'm sure you'll get plenty of good advice.

    In addition to action, another way to break the paralysis is psychological: some people use mantras (e.g. "I can do this" or "I'm okay" or something positive like that), others cling to images / ideas (e.g. thinking of their loved ones or their reason to fight the war) etc. There are quite a few ways to go around the problem.

    I know it's a bit of a paradox to break a fear-induced paralysis with action, but the paralysis usually isn't as absolute as a real paralysis, i.e. you can still move your hands and feet etc, so the simplest thing would be just to start by movement and that way break the paralysis and start to actually take advantage of the effects of adrenaline (heightened reflexes, increased pain threshold etc).
    Btw, that (turning adrenaline into a positive thing) is also something well-trained individuals understand: they know how to harness adrenaline to enhance their performance in dangerous situations, but since freezing sometimes still happens, it's not an unrealistic scenario even if your MC knows all this stuff.
     
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