1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    When it all goes pear-shaped

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by OurJud, Aug 4, 2015.

    I woke up this morning, with a sudden clarity and horrible realisation that not only has my novel already been done, almost fifty years ago now, but that the main idea, the driving force, is so utterly incredulous and far-fetched that no one would be willing to read it.

    It worked for the novel 50 years ago, for varying different reasons, but I can't think how mine would.

    I now feel it necessary to rethink the whole thing, with the only certainty being it will have a dystopian future setting.

    I'm gutted.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't sweat it too much. Writers are harder on themselves than readers are on their books. With some exceptions - Those readers on Goodreads can be brutal. But the world has room for We and 1984. And a zillion Harlequin books. All with eerie similarities.
    I think far-fetching would only annoy sci-fi readers. I'm more annoyed by problems in reality based fiction - I can believe this woman is staying with this man - than some mind bending concept - intelligent moles are living inside the moon. I've put a project aside myself because some of the concepts have become tropes by now ( waited too long to write it. ) I'll just have to reconfigure it.
    Does the whole thing have to be scrapped or just some minor issues changed?
     
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  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a tough question, but I'm now desperately brain-storming to see if I can get away with just changing some elements.

    I promised myself I wouldn't discuss the plot too much, for fear of it diluting my enthusiasm, and I have a vague recollection of reading something somewhere about publishers not being able to accept anything that's been discussed on an open forum (can anyone clarify / confirm this?).

    That said, what the hell? The novel in question (from 50 years ago) is Logan's Run, and my plot differed only in terms of the age at which people are designed to die.

    In my plot, a program is launched to fit anyone under the age of 55 with a chip which is designed to trigger on the host's 65th birthday. On that day, the little capsule releases a poison into the blood stream, painlessly killing its host. They call it the Fifty-year Plan, because that's how long they estimate it will take to purge the western world of the existing elderly population.

    From then on, billions upon billions will be saved in elderly care; no benefits, no pensions, no care homes. Said care homes will be turned into factories and housing, lowering unemployment and getting people off the streets, etc etc. People will work until retirement age, at which point their deathclock removes them from society.

    It's all sound enough, but the realisation I had on waking this morning, is that such an outrageous and heinous proposal would be met with instant and total anarchy. No one would simply accept such an idea, and go gladly to the clinics to have their deathclock fitted.

    The reason it worked in Logan's Run is because it all takes place many many years after the program, and the people know no other way. To them, it's the norm. Your life simply ends after 30 years, and they think nothing of it. Of course, history has left a few signs, giving strength to the myth that people used to live beyond 30... and their figures would grow strangely crooked, odd lines developed on their face, and their hair would go white!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If the government used scare tactics or bullying it might work. You could have a movement where people orchestrated a subtle hate campaign - looking down on older people for years. Seeing them as nothing more than dead weight stopping youth from enjoying themselves. Their could also be food shortages which would frighten anyone into making absurd choices.

    Create a need for this to be of benefit or service to people. Or manipulate peoples hatred - like in World War 2.

    It's like another 70's movie Soylent Green - the volunteer off-yourself clinic. Things looked so grim that place had line-ups. It was needed and wanted.
     
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  5. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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  6. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I get the disappointment. My near-future novel (on the back burner) needs a rethink after I read a blog post detailing how this person is already doing most of the general life stuff in my novel.

    However, if you came up with that idea, you can come up with an enhancement to it. Or a twist.

    My suggestion: do some brainstorming. Watching a bunch of similar movies and read a bunch of similar books and look for patterns and trends.

    Population control is a very real fear and something that really needs to be addressed. There is room for many more stories around how it can be done, and the experience of the people trapped in that mechanism, etc.

    I encourage you to keep the concept if at all possible, and pursue some out of the box ideas and what not to give it that unique feel and arc.
     
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  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    eg: come up with a way to trick the populace to accept the deathlock. Explore the process the governments go through to market and sell the idea. The resistance and what not. There's a host of existing material to work with -- replace the word "vaccination" with "deathlock" and copy + paste some of the 1000s of Facebook groups and the anti-vaxers arguments. Fits like a glove.

    Look at the history of agent orange or thalidomide for programs where medical interventions were introduced into society with barely a whimper.

    You got this @OurJud.
     
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  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think your story sounds fascinating. I don't care if it's been done before. I'd definitely read it.

    I also think you could pull it off by starting a smear campaign. Make the elderly out to be bad guys -- they're a waste a money, draining the economy, taking up space. It's better to just put them out of their misery early. Support of the idea won't happen overnight. But it's not impossible to make it work.

    You can do it! :cheerleader:
     
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  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Or go the other way, and appeal to the elderly's sense of honour and self sacrifice. Most grand parents would do anything for their grandkids. Do you really need to live another 20 years of limited mobility and function when your grandchild needs so much more room and resource to truly reach their full potential?

    Won't someone think of the children?
     
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  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good point!
     
  11. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like the idea of 'brainwashing', which is what you're all suggesting essentially, but I feel as though I need something concrete, something that would be genuinely credible, so that the reader happily accepts the idea of millions of people agreeing to such drastic terms.

    Just consider what's being proposed here; signing an agreement to have your life terminated at 65.

    Anyway, as you suggest Aaron, a couple of hours brainstorming ideas for a dystopian future might help... even if it throws up a brand new idea entirely.

    Thank you, each, for the help and encouragement.
     
  12. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd do it. I know my mom would too. My grandma probably would have. At 70, she told me she was ready to die. And my mom tells me repeatedly that she doesn't want to get old because she doesn't want to be helpless. I don't either.

    But the idea of "living forever" has never interested me. I'd be happy to live until I'm 65, knowing exactly when I'd die and that I most likely wouldn't suffer through some illness.
     
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  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, Lea.. not for the willingness to sacrifice yourself, but for the ideas. I don't know if you intended the above to be quite so helpful, but you've given me a lot to play with there, in terms of why people may just go for this... with some added persuasion by a ruthless government.

    I may just rescue this afterall.
     
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  14. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    And if you sweeten the deal -- no taxes, free health care, etc, etc.
     
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  15. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oooooh, you fooking genius!!
     
  16. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Nah I just love brainstorming :D
     
  17. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    What if the chips were inserted at birth? Maybe the public know nothing about them but are brainwashed into believing there's some kind of virus that prevents people from living beyond 65? A sweetener could work but not everyone would go for it. You could use threats (we'll track you down and brutally kill if you don't let us stick this chip in you - or something similar) but again, wouldn't work with everyone. Just throwing ideas out there o_O
     
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  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ideas are like people. Some people are born big. Some people small. Some people are born gifted at the piano. Others have abnormally high IQs. Others, abnormally low IQs. You can't ask a 5 foot person to join the NBA, or NASA, or supermodel....* and you can't ask a guy with a low IQ to teach quantum mechanics, or a guy with a good heart to get into finance. The best you can expect of any person is for him/her to do the best with what they got.

    And it is the same with ideas. The best you can do is make it as fun/dramatic, emotionally enthralling, interesting, and immersive as possible. Nightmares and erotic dreams don' always make much sense either, yet, they effect us anyway.

    This is why being a skilled writer is the most important part of any story, and not the story itself.

    *As of 2013 NASA lowered their height requirements...
     
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  19. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    123, you're correct in what you say, but skilled or not, I can't allow myself to continue with something that has such glaring illogicalities. The motivation wouldn't be there.

    I lay awake most of last night, juggling the various ideas here. At one point everything clicked together, but then I made the mistake of looking for other problems, and found them.

    I don't think I can write this now, for various reasons, but mainly because the whole concept is fundamentally flawed at its very base.

    I'll close this thread with an apology, to any who think they've wasted their time here, but let me say the information gained has been invaluable, whether I use it or not.

    Anyway, I'll try and outline, in the simplest way possible, why it can't work.

    Plot points:

    Government introduce scheme to terminate all life at the age of 65, by means of a timed capsule inserted into the body.

    Brainwashing and incentives ensure most are on board, and the few pockets of resistance are quickly overpowered.

    Introduce speculation of mythical Russian surgeon located out in the middle of nowhere, who it is rumoured has the equipment and know-how to deactivate the chip.

    Two MC set off to find this man and have their chips deactivated

    Why it doesn't work:

    The Government's motivation is not to kill, but to remove the financial cost of elderly care

    Anyone who decides it is their right to live to old age, and have their chip deactivated, will have to separate themselves from society once they hit 65 anyway, because of the implication of being discovered (the 'why aren't you dead?' scenario)

    With this is mind, it would matter not a jot to the Government whether a person has had their chip deactivated. It only matters that once that person reaches retirement age, they do no depend on the state. So, dead because the chip has run its course, or ostracised and living by their own means on the outskirts, that person is not going to be dependent on the state, either way.

    Summary:

    No conflict.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  20. Shadowfax
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    1/ So the retirement age is gradually increased from 65 for men and 60 for women to 65 for both, then 66 for both, etc. Sooner or later, retirement will be at 150 or death, whichever comes sooner.

    2/ Anyone who's managed to squirrel away their banker's bonuses will be able to afford to retire, and pay for people to look after them.
     
  21. the_epic_swede
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    What if you are offered a large upfront free at an early age, to get this chip implanted. I think many would take that chance.

    Then what if, with time, that fee became lower and lower because the value of life had simply diminished.

    Just a thought.
     
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  22. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    But my illogicality problems still exist. No one above the age of 65 will receive any health care, financial assistance etc, so they'd have to move away from civilisation and fend for themselves, meaning they're not going to be a burden on the state anyway.

    Mmmm, but maybe this idea ain't dead yet. What if it's announced that no health care or financial assistance will be given to the over 65s, and the choice of whether to be implanted with the timed termination is an option rather than mandatory? Then, as you and others have suggested, a lump sum or free, priority health care is offered as an inventive to take the implant option.
     

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