1. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78

    Where would this type of 'Macguffin' be kept?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jun 18, 2016.

    For my story, I wanted the main villain, a gang leader, to have collateral on his fellow gang members in case any one of them turns on him. The whole, 'if you betray me, you are going down with me' scenario.

    However, let's say the leader has collateral on his fellow members, that he has arranged to go to the police, should they betray him.

    Where would this collateral be kept in such a situation? Would he have evidence on all of his fellow gang members, all hidden in the same place, or would he keep each collateral on each member, each in individual places?
     
  2. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    Wouldn't what, how and where he keeps it, including individual vs. group, depend on the character you create?

    I think there are programs that, unless you log in every so often, automatically fire off an email to a destination. If I recall, this is something like messages you would like to send to family and friends, should you pass away. I guess it would be triggered for the same purpose, but sending incriminating evidence to the attorney general for the state, or a prosecutor or police or FBI...or all of them. Again, depends on the nature and content of the evidence. But, if the leader were to kick off unexpectedly...others would end up suffering/paying consequences due to released information.
     
  3. Shattered Shields
    Offline

    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    272
    Location:
    Athagora
    Two answers come to mind.

    1. A place that is special to him.

    2. A place where only he would know to look
     
  4. Tusitala
    Offline

    Tusitala Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2016
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Utah
    As to whether it all stays in the same place or is all kept in different places, I think it depends. Is the villain worried about losing everything in one fell swoop? Then he'd probably split up the collateral. Is he concerned that if it's too spread out, he might not have enough control? Then he'd keep it all in one place. Is he too lazy to spread it out? Too paranoid to keep it together? Too busy to care?

    Alternatively, you could just decide what works better for your story (maybe you want the hero to have a protracted adventure gathering scattered clues, or maybe the story will only work if all the information can be destroyed at once) and then retroactively come up with a good reason for the villain to set it up that way.
     
    Catrin Lewis and Romana like this.
  5. Iain Aschendale
    Online

    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,020
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    Location:
    The Hopton Stoddard Home
    A lot of it depends on the setting. If it's modern, the automatic email thing is a good idea, but then the MacGuffin becomes the site, username, and password.

    Classic stories would have an envelope with a trusted bartender, who would send it off, unopened, if the head villain didn't show up or he heard something had happened.

    On the other hand, not knowing exactly who had the envelope, or if it had changed hands over time, would make a very good MacGuffin chase.
     
    Romana likes this.
  6. Romana
    Offline

    Romana Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    46
    I feel like he could keep it somewhere very "in plain sight." A single nondescript envelope that sits forever unmailed in a mailslot where other mail comes and goes frequently won't garner much attention -- only a nosy and observant person would notice it. With a word, the trusty mailman would send it off where it needs to go.

    I agree with Shattered Shields: a place only he would think to look would be great. And that way it could be totally random -- sealed in a bag in the potting soil of a flowerpot, tucked into the pocket of his mother's old coat, at the back of the refrigerator... that collateral could be anywhere, and everywhere.

    I also agree that however he keeps it needs to fit your plot. He could have most of the collateral in one spot, but a few more important members' collateral could be hidden separately, leading to a desperate search for that one last piece.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. After thinking about it, it may have occurred to me that I might have a plot hole though. Earlier in the story, the gang gets a new recruit to kill someone to prove he has what it takes to get into the gang. The gang also films it for collateral. However, the new recruit is given an a gun that is empty, in case he is an undercover cop of course. The point of gangs forcing new recruits to kill someone is to prove they are not cops. But of course, it makes sense to not give the new recruit a loaded gun, with a bullet that can be fired. So instead they give him a gun, with a bullet that has no gun powder in it.

    But would the gang use a recording of the new recruit pulling the trigger on a hostage, but nothing happens and it was just a test? Would they still use this as collateral to discredit the new recruit from being a witness against them?
     
  8. Iain Aschendale
    Online

    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,020
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    Location:
    The Hopton Stoddard Home
    The problem with "hiding" the collateral someplace is that someone else has to know where to find it in case something happens to him.

    As for the empty gun thing, I don't know that that would work. Couldn't they just make the new guy beat someone senseless in the course of a robbery to prove his loyalty? I'm pretty sure that gangs in general have some proof of criminality requirement for full membership. Also, if he's along when someone is killed, he's equally as guilty (in most places) as the guy who pulled the trigger. Anything bad that happens in the course of a crime is the fault of anyone involved in the crime. When I worked public safety, there was a guy who got into an argument with his wife and pulled a gun on her. He ended up barricading himself in his apartment when the police showed up. Over the course of the standoff, an officer slipped on a curb and injured his ankle. Since he was there responding to the call of the man with a gun, when they eventually arrested him, the offender was, among other things, charged with battery to a police officer for that injury, even though he was locked in the apartment at the time.
     
  9. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. Well when the gang is testing out a new recruit, would they say to themselves "It's okay if the new recruit does not actually have to kill anyone, cause anything that happens later, will be on his head, legal wise, as a result of this recording coming out, if he betrayed us".

    Would they rely on other crimes discrediting the new recruit later on, which at this point are unforeseen? Or are you suggesting something else?

    As for the new recruit not having to kill someone, mainly in my story the reason why the gang has the new recruit think he is going to kill someone, but the gun is not loaded with a fire-able bullet, is because the gang does not want the new recruit to turn out to be an undercover cop, who may bust them.

    So the gang uses one of their own members, to pose as a tied up kidnap victim for the new recruit to 'off'. The use one of their own members, cause in case the police are secretly surveying the hide out, and the hew recruit is an undercover cop, they do not want the undercover to attempt to save the hostage, along with any police that could be surveying.

    So they use one of their own members as a fake hostage for the ruse. The police then do bust the hideout, and save the fake hostage, thinking she is real. The fake hostage, being a member of the gang, and wanting to throw the cop's investigation off leads them on a false goose chase, so they won't get close to the real gang.

    But the false goose chase takes up about two thirds of the plot. So I do not want to just throw it away. The ruse being recorded and used as collateral, is only the last third of the plot.

    So does it not make sense for the gang to record it as collateral, if it's just a ruse, and no hostage got hurt, since the hostage was secretly one of them, posing as one for the ruse?
     
  10. Iain Aschendale
    Online

    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,020
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    Location:
    The Hopton Stoddard Home
    I've seen your other posts on this initiation scenario, and I don't think your idea will work. If the action isn't really a crime (murder), it won't be useful for blackmail or control purposes over a real criminal. If it appears to be a crime, a (not-crooked) cop won't do it, which will either reveal him as a cop, or show that he doesn't have what it takes to join the gang. It's possible that an undercover cop might be allowed to take part in some lesser crimes, like dealing drugs, but there's just no way he's going to shoot someone in the head to gain their trust.
     
  11. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks.

    When I asked a real cop about this in my research, he said that even if the murder is fake, the corrupt cop still being on video, in conspiracy with a gang would be enough to discredit the cop as a witness.

    If he turns on the gang, no court is going to believe him, if a video shows him in conspiracy, and his reputation as a cop will be ruined, and therefore not believable.

    So would it make sense that way, according to what I was told?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  12. FireWater
    Offline

    FireWater Active Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2016
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    139
    Yes, it's believable that he wouldn't turn on them if the incentive is that, if he does, he would be "outed" as being part of the conspiracy and would have his reputation ruined.
     
  13. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay then. Even though he doesn't actually kill anyone in the video, they still have him on video going through the blood in, thinking he is going to kill someone, surrounded by men in masks and gloves, with a tied up hostage.

    So he will still be discredited as a witness if outed. Do you think all the videos of the blood ins would be kept in the same place for the police to find though?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2016
  14. Vandor76
    Offline

    Vandor76 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    189
    Location:
    Hungary
    They can arrange a whole fake murder scene (movie-style) using blank ammunition and red paint filled cartridge under the fake victim's clothes. On video it would seem like the real deal, but if the police rush in and arrest everyone they find that no crime was performed (only the undercover cop will be in trouble IF he's pulled the trigger).

    In reality a gang won't care too much that they kill someone just to prove that a new recruit is not a cop. In most cases a video about someone shooting another person does not worth too much without the dead body. They just kill someone as they do during their "normal business" and make sure that the body's location is added to the evidence file of that gang member.

    + If the supposed victim shows up in the city several times after she was supposed to be buried in the forest the whole video tape thing becomes useless. In addition to that the new recruit needs only one person to cooperate with if he wants to turn against the gang : the victim. In fact it is enough to leave the victim alive and arrange that the cops are aware that she lives (having a video showing that you kill X and in the other hand having X arrested is weird but it is sure that you won't go to jail).

    Possible locations for the collateral :
    - bank safe(s) (some banks allow you to determine in advance what would happen with the content of the safe if you die)
    - attorney
    - an old friend
    - in a modern setting : a web server

    I won't make the gang leader put the evidence to many places. One place or two places are easy to remember and manage. He can also keep all files in one place but tell the others that these are kept in different places, or do not tell them how many places are there. Uncertainty is an effective weapon.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Yep, they could do that whole paint filled cartridge thing. As long as the new recruit bought it cause those paint cartridges sometimes splat weird and do not look right, from what I gather. But the new recruit probably could by it. He is not an undercover cop though. Just a crooked cop being recruited. The gang just does the fake blood in, in case he is one and they do not want an undercover cop relying on a real hostage to back up his testimony later, should something happen.

    What if the fake victim had a hood over her head, while she was being held hostage? That way, her face will not be as recognizable on the video, and she can still live in the city, if that works?

    As for the victim cooperating with the new recruit, the victim is working with the gang and is only posing as a hostage for the blood in. So the victim will be on the gang's side and not that of the new recruit.

    Since I am writing a screenplay, and wanting to budget it, to locations I have available, what if the gang leader kept the videos in a self storage facility unit? Would that be plausible, or no? Basically I also want it to be a place the police can find them more easily and a bank or a lawyer would make that a lot more difficult probably as well.

    But would it make less sense to hide it in something like a self storage unit?
     
  16. Vandor76
    Offline

    Vandor76 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    189
    Location:
    Hungary
    In real life this could be a problem, but in fiction this is far within the boundaries of "suspension of disbelief"

    I'm sorry to tell this but the whole fake murder scene depicts this gang as being not-so-serious. If they require the new recruit to kill someone as an exam then they need to be serious and they need to look serious. Real criminals would instead make sure to choose a location where the cops can't get them and tell the new member where to go only in the last moment.

    Without the victim's body it would be hard to bring the case to court. There are numerous video editing software that can make wonders with any video so using it as the only evidence is not a good way to send someone to jail.

    As I understand this video evidence method is used against all members to protect the gang leader (and also other members). If any of them turns against the leader he needs to make sure that the fake victim (on his video) is on his side. That's it.

    That makes sense. Bank is out then :)

    It would be plausible but don't forget that he still needs someone who knows where it is, in case the leader is killed. Otherwise members will know that anyone who wants to harm him needs to do a full job and kill him.

    It is not a problem for the police to gain access to a bank safe or a lawyer's safe. Technicaly they need to do the same as with a private home: get permission for that from a judge.
     
  17. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. When you say that editing software can do wonders for video, are you saying that the hostage having a hood over her head will do no good?

    As for the fake hostage, the reason why the gang uses one of their own members, for a fake murder is in case if the guy was an undercover cop. If he is, other cops could be tailing him. Even if the gang gave him a last minute location to go to, the cops could still be surveying their own undercover man, and the gang could very well not know. So the gang wants to use a fake hostage that will not testify, if the blood in turns out to be an undercover sting by any chance.

    If the cop turns out to be not be undercover and has no problem pulling the trigger on the fake hostage, then the gang could always give him a second test after and kill someone for real after that first initial test, no?
     
  18. Vandor76
    Offline

    Vandor76 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    189
    Location:
    Hungary
    No, I'm saying that a video without the dead body is not enough. Just a few clicks on Youtube and you can see people levitate, ride sharks or do UFO autopsy. If the video is the only evidence, you can bet that a video expert will analyze it and if it's not the real thing he will prove it as fake in a minute.

    If this is their concern the gang could separate the "exam" (fake murder) and "collateral" (real murder recorded) parts, so they have real evidence against the new gang member.
    Don't forget that you still need to provide a very good reason for someone to trust them so much to intentionally give them practically total control over himself.

    See my comment in the previous paragraph.
     
  19. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. Even though the murder is fake on video, the person is still seen doing a blood in on video. So even though the person cannot be charged with murder, he can still be tied to conspiracy and thus, his credibility as a witness would be ruined, should he decide to betray the gang.

    The point of the blood in is to have collateral, but you don't need to have evidence of murder to be collateral. Discrediting the witness with evidence of conspiracy, is enough, isn't?

    He is caught on video doing a blood in with the same gang. Even if the no 0ne is murdered in the blood in, taking part in a blood in, is still a conspiracy crime in itself, isn't it? It would still discredit the new recruit if he goes to the cops.
     
  20. Vandor76
    Offline

    Vandor76 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    189
    Location:
    Hungary
    Hmmm. I misunderstood you. I supposed that the evidence is kept by the gang leader for cases when a gang member tries to kill him. Now I see that it is more like striking back at the court.
     
  21. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Oh, what do you mean when you say when a gang member tries to kill him?
     
  22. Vandor76
    Offline

    Vandor76 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    189
    Location:
    Hungary
    You said that the gang leader collects collateral "on his fellow members, that he has arranged to go to the police, should they betray him". The term "arranged" suggests that he prepared this in case he can't do it himself, like he is arrested by the police or killed by a fellow gang member.
    Telling others that he has evidence that can be used against them and this evidence is going to be sent to the police if he dies would ensure that they won't turn against him and won't kill him.
     
  23. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Yep he would have some sort of arrangement for it to go to the police if he dies. But the story never gets that far, since he never dies. I want the police to find the package, of all the blood in videos as evidence against the members. So it never gets as far as the gang leader dying.

    One thing in my story is, is that the main cop character who is after the gang, has to figure out that there is a package of blood in videos, being used as collateral. He already knows there is one video from a suspected blood in. By suspected I mean that the MC theorized that a blood in was recorded based on crime scene evidence from early on in the story.

    Can the MC say to the cops "if they recorded one blood in, they might have recorded all the others. The gang leader might be keeping them all someplace as collateral. We should see if we could find it".

    Or is this too much of a leap for the MC to theorize? Would it be worth him risking his life, if it's just a theory and he does not know for certain at all, that this package of blood in videos exists somewhere?
     
  24. ToBeInspired
    Offline

    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2013
    Messages:
    286
    Likes Received:
    172
    Location:
    Asheville
    Simple, with a lawyer. Plenty of them are corrupt and they're bound by confidentiality. Upon my death send these packages to X place.
     
  25. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Well if the lawyer keeps them, then that won't work for the plot because the macguffin would then be legally 'privileged', and the police would not be able to find a way to seize it legally, would they?
     

Share This Page