1. DoctorDoom
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    DoctorDoom Member

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    What would you do if this were you?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DoctorDoom, Feb 2, 2016.

    I'm writing a scene in my book and I need to know how the main characters dad is likely to act.

    Let me set the scene.

    Imagine you're a 18-19 year old just starting college. You're a film major and you make the horrendous mistake of going to a party at something similar to a sorority. You meet a reasonably attractive woman a year or so younger than you there who is probably a bit too aggressive in some respects. Short story short you end up dating for a couple of months after that, she gets pregnant and a year later she turns out to be a completely psychotic bitch. After she tries to kill you because it's funny, you, understandably, run like hell and return with CPS a few weeks later to get custody of your child. Except she's not there anymore. You learn that she's dropped out of college and has joined a satanic cult. (Well, it's not really satanic but that's a good earth equivalent) You and one of your friends (who you've been hiding out with since your girl friend tried to kill you) attempt to steal the child back, but are nearly killed by other cult members instead.

    Two years after that your ex decides to blow up half the city. You go into hiding and 12 years later, you've married your best friend and have raised a successful and rather large family out in the middle of nowhere in a doomsday survivor type community.

    The political climate in the city has cooled off enough that you venture back inside and try and find the child from that first relationship, only to learn that your ex is now running the satanic cult and that your child is either dead or caught up in it too.

    A few months pass and you learn from a college friend that your child had recently run away from home and has been squatting with a bunch of excommunicated cult members inside an old abandoned bank in a really seedy part of town. He tries to warn you off, stating that your child is extremely unstable and liable to do just about anything. But, you go there anyway and find your now 16 year old daughter, only to learn that she's a serial killer and have her tell you to go f*ck yourself, and blame you for everything that happened to her, (if the amount of scars she has are anything to go by, it was pretty horrific) and state that you should have died rather than run away and abandoned her like a coward and that if you don't run away now, she'll kill you like everyone else who thought they could mess with her and live to tell the tale.

    (It should be noted that the father would loose in a physical fight if it came down to it. She's kind of an Amazon and he's a little less than average. So that fact would be abundantly obvious to all present parties.)

    All I'm asking is if you were the father, what would your reaction and emotional thought process be?
     
  2. MrsK
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    MrsK New Member

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    My thought process would be torn. Torn between trying to reconnect and find some humanity in your daughter, and self preservation. You also have a family to think about. I would maybe write letters, or love the daughter from afar until she reaches out.
     
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  3. LostThePlot
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    Cold hard truth?

    I wouldn't feel all that much about it. I would have given up a long time ago.

    It's an ongoing trope across all kinds of fiction that (somehow) parents wouldn't ever give up, wouldn't ever learn and would go through hell to get their kids back. And I can understand why people think that. I mean, to a certain extent it's true. I think most parents would say, if they had to choose between saving their kid and saving themselves they would save their kid. Even if they weren't in danger they might put themselves in danger (and even die) to rescue their child. But there's limits man. Jumping into a river or running into a fire? Ok, sure. Put yourself between your kid and a bullet, maybe. But fly across the world to try and retrieve your kid from (say) The Islamic State? Probably not. At some point the obstacles are so extreme that you are just throwing your life away for no reason.

    It's a nice premise for a movie like Taken (aka Liam Neison is a boss, taking his kids is a poor long term survival strategy) because it's a very very simple set up that requires no characterization or set-up. It's an action flick that cuts corners on the story and we'll suspend disbelief that someone really would kill hundreds of people themselves instead of talking to the police. And that's the problem. We have to suspend disbelief because, well, we don't really believe it.

    I buy that a guy would chase after their baby when they perceived it was in danger but after that? I mean, you say it yourself that your character has moved on. He's raised a family, he's found happiness. Maybe he might go and try to run into his former daughter when he heard word of her; just to see how she turned out or even help her if she wants it. But if she tells you to leave her alone I think you just shrug and say she made her own choices. You go home and sit with your family and remember you're a good father and what happened to her wasn't your fault. And after that, well, that's it. You haven't seen her since she was a baby. It's not your fault how she turned out.

    At some point the cord gets cut. There's always going to be some melancholy there but the pain is long in the past. Either you move on (which your character really has) or he'd have gone searching long ago.
     
  4. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wow, that's heavy. o_O I suppose if I never formed an emotional attachment to my child and never really knew her, finding out this person -- who is your flesh and blood, although a stranger as well -- is a serial killer would make me see her as a monster first. Especially if I had to run like hell from her after she threatens to kill me. I'd also be worried of my family, the family I know, my wife and kids, and do everything in my power to protect them from this person. I think I'd also feel pity, of course, and blame myself for contributing to her misery (even though her blaming just me sounds like she's been brainwashed by her mother), but I doubt I'd try to "save" her because based on your description that sounds like trying to save, like, Anders Breivik, and I'd personally just rather see him rot regardless his reasons for killing people.
     
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  5. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Heart-breaking for sure, but to me, most of that pain has been endured before (ex and child was left behind years before, I imagine the major emotional blow to happen there). Seeing her again would most likely at first, cause emotions I handle. I reason to myself about her, telling myself something positive about her. Don't know what though. I wouldn't love her. Absolutely not.

    I have always been pretty cold person. If my family member commits a crime, I feel no sympathy when the charges land. It's deserved. I'm a guy who tends to conceal painful stuff, I go through it in silence and then I seal up my thick skin.

    One thing; his daughter clearly went through awful shit through her childhood which made here what she is. But I get this sense that daughter blames her father for it. If she sees her father being the major reason, why she wouldn't attack him? And if the childhood caused her to become serial-killer, what did she do to her mother? I imagine, she killed her.
     
  6. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    It depends. If I were the father, before I ran away from her, cause of her threat, would their be a way I could communicate with her, like by phone or vice versa? Could I leave her a number, but to a phone that she could not track since she is dangerous?
     
  7. DoctorDoom
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    Well, if any of the characters would be Liam Neison it would probably be the daughter. Most of the people she kills are pretty evil themselves and have all either done something to her or somebody she cared about to the point that her extremely amoral upbringing (her mom would think her killing someone was either funny or a good thing and encourage it, though only if she targeted political enemies or innocents.) leads her to just straight up murder people she doesn't like, so long as they fit certain parameters because that's just what you do. It's acceptable. In the narrative what I tried to do is make murdering scum sound like its relativisticly acceptable because everyone in her community views that as more moral than what you can normally get away with, essentially making her look like a white sheep in context.

    The fathers role then is to be a kind of reality check or dope slap to both the character and the audience who will hopefully have developed some Stockholm like cognitions at this point in the story. (One of the books points is that you like shows like Hannibal or Dexter in part because you're being brainwashed, eg 'this person wouldn't kill me, despite wanting to kill people or they treat everyone except me like garbage so they must be nice.') That is, until the father and his sane, normal community gets introduced and you realize that the gal you've been rooting for is actually a dangerous, immoral jerk who would definitely kill innocent people if it came down to it.

    As of this writing I have the father feeling guilty about what he perceives as killing his child by leaving her with his ex when he ran away and got CPS instead of actually physically confronting his ex and dealing with the consequences, whatever they would have been. Guilty, but not stupid after he is essentially rescued himself by a friend who later becomes his wife.

    And you're right that he does move on and becomes a successful parent to five other kids, none of whom are psychopaths, which is always a plus.

    But he hardly goes to Liam Neison esque lengths to save his first child. It's more like it was no longer dangerous to go looking so he did, fully expecting to learn that she was brutally murdered years ago anyway and certainly not, if she were alive, openly running a rebellion against her mother. He probably expected she be some kind of weak, helpless, broken victim he could rescue in a almost chauvinistic fashion and that that would absolve him of any guilt he still had. He, at least in how I wrote him, wasn't at all mentally prepared for the reality of the situation. However I too am a somewhat cold and cynical person so I didn't know if this interpretation was realistic or not given how situations like this are normally treated in books and movies. That and I asked one of my friends who said that he'd probably kill himself if he was put in that situation, so I dunno. Depends on who you ask I guess.

    And yes, there would be means of leaving contact information.
     
  8. DoctorDoom
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    DoctorDoom Member

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    Also, she does kill her mother at a later point in the narrative, but hasn't done so yet because it would mean getting killed in return.
     
  9. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    By reintroducing himself to her, he obviously has put his life and the life of his family in jeopardy. She already hates and blames him, so I would be thinking that one day she would be coming for me and my family.
    I would get my family safe, and try like hell to take her out. The damage is done, you are never going to bring her back. She will forever be on the darkside. Be a good Jedi and face your fears.
     
  10. MockingJD
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    MockingJD Member

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    I think that if I were a father (I'm not and never will be), I'd probably back off after dealing with that, maybe try to reach out again from a distance or send her money or something. But ultimately, I've got other children whose safety needs to be the top priority so if she's a time bomb, I don't know what kind of meaningful relationship we can have until she slays her demons. I certainly wouldn't put my life and that of my family at risk to "save" her.
     
  11. DoctorDoom
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    DoctorDoom Member

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    I think a good way of putting his mindset would be that he's the dad from Cinderella, except he ran away rather than dying and when he decides to come to the rescue 16 years later still expecting a Disney movie he finds he's accidentally walked right into an episode of Dexter or Killbill.
     
  12. Holden LaPadula
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    Holden LaPadula Member

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    If I were the father I would take out the ex who runs the cult. Because, after all, she caused the city to blow up and our daughter to end up as a serial killer. Then I would send a letter every week to the daughter explaining what my life was like before she was born and why I did what I did.

    Good luck! Character decisions are often the most difficult decisions :)
     

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