1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    What would this character do in this situation?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Dec 4, 2015.

    In my story, what happens is that a gang is recruiting a new member and they give him a 'blood in'. It's a police term for when a new potential recruit, has to spill the blood of another person to prove their worth to the gang. However, the gang is cautious and they want to make sure that they are not recruiting a new member who will turn out to be an undercover cop, or someone who cannot be trusted, or something like that.

    So what they do with the new member, is that they have him shoot a tied up hostage, who has a hood over her head so she cannot identify anyone's faces. They are also all wearing gloves the entire time careful not to get any prints on the scene. However, the hostage is working with the gang and is just posing as a hostage. The gun that that the new recruit will be given is a fake prop gun, so no real weapon is used.

    However, a cop who is on patrol in an unmarked car, spotted something suspicious about the gang members, while they were on the way to the blood in, and discretely followed them. He sees that a kidnap victim may be killed so he busts in and rescues her. He manages to arrest one of them in the process and the rest get away as he tries to protect her, taking away the prop gun in the process.

    Afterwords the fake hostage is being questioned by police as to what happened, and since she was in on it, she doesn't tell them anything. She just keeps telling the police she doesn't wish to press charges. That's all she says, and stays quiet otherwise.

    However, readers have been telling me they do not understand her behavior after the blood in. They said that it would make sense for her to have a story made up and ready to go, to get the suspect off, like saying she hooked up with a bunch of guys from a party that night and did not get their names. No kidnapping took place, and the cop misunderstood, she would say.

    But I do not understand why readers think that. It makes sense that she would lie as a last resort to get the suspect off, if they were going ahead with charges and all. But the readers say she would make up a story right away. The problem with that though, is that if the police manage to find any little thing in her lie, that wouldn't gel, or anything that could be used against her, it might.

    By acting traumatized from the hostage experience, and saying she doesn't want to get involved further or press charges, doesn't that make more sense? Even though lying can make the suspect look innocent right away, it can also have something in that may be used against you and you wouldn't see it.

    The readers said that if she keeps quiet, she makes herself out to be a suspect cause it's suspicious. But isn't acting suspicious better than lying, which will probably but work, but could backfire if it's not 100% perfect?

    What do you think?
     
  2. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    I would think this would depend on the character of the fake-hostage. Is she the kind of person who's good at lying? Does she panic easily?

    I don't think it would really make sense for her to have a story ready to go, since she presumably wasn't expecting to have to talk to the police. But, of course some people are good at making up even elaborate lies on the spot.

    You're correct that, if you were acting rationally, probably saying as little as possible would be the best thing to do. The police might be suspicious, but they can't hold you forever. I guess it also depends a bit on whether the police are crackerjack investigators or just desk-jockeys who want to get another case off their desk ASAP.

    Of course, if your fake hostage is panicky or nervous she might not act rationally, and might try and come up with a story. In this case I think you're right that such things tend to unravel pretty quickly under decent questioning.

    Overall I can see your readers' argument but I do tend to think that either way could be plausible. Just some thoughts...
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well I would assume she is a good liar since the gang picked her to be the fake hostage, in the event that the blood in went wrong. As for the police there are three main cop characters. One is a desk jocky, the other more crackerjack and may think something is up, and the other is sort of in between.

    Well so far all the readers didn't buy why she wouldn't talk and just act like a traumatized victim who didn't want to press charges. Why act like a traumatized victim of a crime, and make your gang friends think that they did something bad and are still out there, when you can just lie and make them all out to be minor pranksters who committed no real crime, they say.

    But selling the latter with lies is tougher, then selling the former maybe? Is their a way I can get readers to believe it my way, cause they see it as a plot hole?
     
  4. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    This might be a problem with screenplays in general, but I'm not saying that; but how much framing can you do so that as improbable as it might be in the reader's mind that this is how they operate, it's all in line with her personality, etc. If you have to invent a reason to make it more obvious, like, she has a warrant out for her for some misdemeanor, she can like playing the victim and getting attention, even though her loyalty doesn't really waver.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well if she has a warrant out for her, the police will find out that she is the one they want for that warrant, no matter what her story is, because they would still likely get her name and ID. So I don't think that would make a difference, would it?
     
  6. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I was thinking that she sees it as a way of them being more lenient with her, like if she was going to be gang raped or whatever goes through the cop's head. She could have some personal motive for not lying right away. But back to my main point, did you attempt to make it clear that her reasoning had some substance behind it, or was it a stand alone picture? If people say that it doesn't add up, make the math for them.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I was thinking out of lenience as well, as part of it, but the other part, not having to lie after lie so much.

    Well since I am writing a screenplay, I am not allowed to explain what is going on in side her head so much. I can only 'show' what happens. Plus the reader at this point is meant to think she actually was an innocent hostage. It's not until later that you find out she was working with them. And it's discovered from the cops' point of view, so it's not really explained because we are seeing it discovered through another characters POV.

    I can have one of the cop's explain it to another one, there are two concerns. The first is, is that by the time that cop gets to the other's to explain the reader has already decided it makes no sense to them, and they might not buy into an explanation later, cause they might not choose to read on.

    The second concern is that I feel I might be spelling it out too much. Shouldn't the reader figure out her reason why, rather than have a character explain it to another just so the reader hopefully accepts it?

    But the beta readers are telling me it would just be much more logical for her to say it was just her and her friends having fun. However, since her friends all fled and resisted arrest, the cops are going to want to get their names from her and talk to them. She will have to come up with a lie as to how she invited a bunch of guys over, who were all wearing masks and gloves, but she did not get their names. She could say that they were all from a bar and she picked them all up or from a house party. But then the police are going to want to follow up on the bar, who had the house party, etc.

    It will just go on and on, with her having to keep lying to avoid giving up the real gangs' identities. So in order to conceal their identities from the police, isn't it just better to play the traumatized victim, who does not want to press charges, and does not want to talk about it or get involved?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I know nothing about screenplays, but if the readers understand what is and isn't in their format, no, they shouldn't be asking these questions. Something, someone, is mistaken. Don't the screenplays have little side notes and stuff to give perspective? How could directors ever read them? If you have no misgivings about how it would appear on screen, and that it would be intelligible to the viewer, the plot twists would only irk those who either, a) don't understand it's not a novel, or b) you need to communicate it to them even if that means breaking the screenplay rule book.
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But the way the readers told me though, I don't think it's a problem of not explaining it. Cause even when I explained her reasons, they still didn't buy that's what she would do, and she would lie instead of keep quiet, they said. So the character's reasoning itself is the problem, and not the lack of explanation I think.
     
  10. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    If she told them it's all just a game, she'd have to give names and stuff, no? Or, as you said, she could try to convince them that it was some random shit, like she ran into those people who were, like, "hey, wanna get tied up and blindfolded by a bunch of strangers?" Or worse, she found it in the fetish section of craigslist. Why'd they run? How come they didn't call the police to see if it was really a cop that rescued her? I don't see why some people -- even though I'm aware we're all experts in realism -- have such an issue with her course of action. She'd have to give them names if it was all fun since the police might want to verify that it was in fact just fun and games. They may even want to lay a charge of disturbing the peace or whatever it is. But in court, her testimony is her testimony. They might charge her with perjury, but whatever, she's doing her part for the gang.
     
  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the way I wanted to write, it was is that when she is being questioned by the police, all she says is "I don't want to press charges, and I don't want to get involved. I just want to put it behind me". She doesn't say anything about a kidnapping or being confined against her will.

    Then later, the prosecutor wants to subpoena her to come to the deposition where she will have to testify to what happened. Since she refuses to cooperate, the prosecutor wants to make her.

    So when she testifies, she then says that "It was all just fun and games and I wanted to be tied up by strangers. I don't know their names".

    The prosecutor then asks her "Well then why did you say you didn't want to press charges and not cooperate?"

    She then says "I don't want to discuss my personal life with anyone, and I didn't want to press charges since no crime was committed".

    So even though she changes her attitude, wouldn't this be the best way to play it to get the suspect off, without having to identify any of the gang members?

    She has two goals. Get the suspect and herself off, and not identify any of the rest. Wouldn't playing it without saying anything at first, and then if subpoenaed later, tell that story, be the best play? Or am I wrong and it doesn't make sense?
     
  12. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Seems cool to me. I think only someone with legal knowledge could critique it further, not to say I'm not missing something for sure.
     
  13. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. It's strange that you say it seems cool to you as every other person said they did not understand why she wouldn't come up with lies right away, rather than saving them till court. One person even wrote back saying the whole concept could never possibly happen, but he did not give any specifics so far, so not sure what the problem is.

    Perhaps I didn't do enough research though. If a person tells the cop's that no crime happened and it was all a mistake, and the cops ask the person to give up her friend's identities who resisted arrest, can she say no, without getting into any legal trouble, and just walk out?
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

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