1. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Why leave civilization behind to live in the wild?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ettina, May 7, 2012.

    OK, in this one story, I have three shapeshifters, each of which can turn into big cats at will. One turns into a cheetah, one a lion, and one a leopard. In order for the main plot to take place, they have to decide that they'll live civilization behind and go live in their animal forms on a nature preserve. Problem is, everyone I talk to says that they'd never want to do that - and with good reason, because the life of a wild animal is really tough. How do I explain their decision? What possible reasons could you think of for someone to decide to do something like that?
     
  2. Fan7asticMrFox
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    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could you possibly have the civilization banish the shapeshifters from their cities and towns for whatever reason? So rather than have them make a decision, it is instead forced upon them.

    Or perhaps civilization has become so burdened with politics, backstabbing, crime and greed that the shapeshifters feel it's an ugly life to lead and would rather live as nature intended them to.
     
  3. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Perhaps they decide that it's unfair to regular people to live amongst them when they have this ability, maybe due to another shapeshifter shifting and killing someone after losing their temper?

    Or they feel the need to honour the wild side of themselves, for heritage or academic reasons?

    I'm no shapeshifter expert mind, so these may well be rubbish ideas- just a couple of thoughts :)
     
  4. Langadune
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    Langadune Member

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    Having the ability to in essence become part of the wild, the "toughess" of the prospect might be somewhat mitigated. With the shapeshifting ability, their decision can be practical in that they can effectively survive in either environment.

    Perhaps there's an animal instinct they can't resist. Perhaps living among people motivated by lust/greed/hatred/envy/dishonestly/etc. is enough to motivate them to shun "civilization" lest they become what they find most disgusting in humanity.
     
  5. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Not really. Life is pretty hard for big cats, and these kids know it (they've done enough research to be reasonably prepared for the challenges they'll face).

    So far, the best option I can think of is them being disgusted with human civilization. They're born vampires who were raised in a vampire-only orphanage, then kidnapped by druids who infused them with the power of nature to cure their vampirism (and, while kidnapping them, killed their house mother, the only parent they've ever known). Then they lived for awhile with werewolves. I guess I could make their time with the werewolves more unpleasant, to give them more motivation to strike out on their own.

    (By the way, this backstory comes from a really wild dream I had.)
     
  6. marco.buschini
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    marco.buschini Member

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    Well, you could, but I think you could plan something more psychological. Do werewolves actually like shapeshifters? I do not think so as they have to change shape with full moon while the shapeshifters can do that at will.

    One thing might be to be tricked into thinking they have been betrayed by the druids by some evil force that wanted them out of humanity.
     
  7. ITalkToTheWind
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    ITalkToTheWind New Member

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    In civilization one must live in constant fear of loss, their way of life as they know it is threatened at all times. Perhaps the characters want to pursue a more sustainable lifestyle in which they know exactly what they have: their bodies. They don't need to maintain superficial relationships with people in order to maintain a lifestyle they see as futile. In leaving civilization behind they also leave behind a life of debt, social image, politics, money, and any other attachments. Just a thought :)
     
  8. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I don't know - sometimes I look at my dog and think, man I wish I was a dog. Mind you, he's a domesticated animal and not wild.

    I think their desire to leave civilization behind is summed up by their interaction with civilization. People killed their parents, druids turned them into shape shifters and as you mentioned their time with werewolves may not have been the best either. Frankly, less traumatic things have happened to me and I often want to run away and become a hermit.
     
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  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Two reasons occur to me.

    1. Their instincts demand them a lot of open space, no crowds.

    2. They fear they are responsible for a recent slaughter, and must segregate from civilization. This latter presupposes there is some loss of memory associated with the change.
     
  10. John Eff
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    John Eff Member

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    On the animal instincts theme: it is indeed a tough life for wild animals but the compensation of heightened senses, primal urges and greater awareness outweighs the disadvantages, or is at least a contributing factor in the decision-making process.
     
  11. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    One reason could be simply harsh life experience. When tragedy struck sometimes I wish I were a bird or something so that I won't feel the pain of lost, betrayal, and so on.

    Also, life in the so called civilized world isn't always hunky-dory. Global Happiness Index and such other studies routinely say people in poverty struck countries like India are much happier than say, Denmark or Japan. They may not have access to a basic hospital but they enjoy a sense of freedom in their own territory, in their own home. So, if you could hint at something like -the shapeshifters were suppose to be in the wild but forcefully put in the civilized world- why they chose to leave the civilized world is a no-brainer; they are simply following their instincts and going home.
     
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  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You asked people and they told you why they wouldn't go. But your characters are part wild animal. If you could ask a wild animal, why would they want to live in the wild, I am sure they would have plenty of reasons.
    Also, a shapeshifter in the wild has the advantage of roaming free and hunting, but still being the top predator due to human resourcefulness.
     
  13. marco.buschini
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    marco.buschini Member

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    Why the loss of memory? Even if they can remember things well people might just not trust them.
    Yes, perhaps the loss of memory is easier to handle than this.
     
  14. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I think what MissRis and Killbill said is spot on.

    There are plenty of people who find living in civilization worse than living in the wild. When you can't pay your bills or food is scarce or people hate you or you're depressed or you get kicked out or you guy (or girl) leaves you or you get fired or you just hate your boss or you're being bullied or... Plus some people are just more inclined to enjoy nature and want to be in it.

    I'm not sure I'm ready to leave the world behind but I wouldn't mind getting rid of some technology and food additives and the fast pace life that circles us like a whirlpool.

    So I don't think it would take much to sell the story that they'd rather live in the wild.
     
  15. bks_acb
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    bks_acb New Member

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    It could work if it going into the wild is a right of passage. To get into touch with there wild animal, then they find they enjoy live off the land and peace of nature.
     
  16. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    sounds like a good deal to me, it whould get me away from the nagging theocrat gf that is alwase threating to commit suicide if i dont do what she wants.

    make life bad and they very well might be willing to take a vacation from it
     
  17. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I would suggest reading Walden by Thoreau.

    Nature is appealing for many reasons, mainly being it simply just exists. There is a flow of life that literally breathes with the Earth and the Universe. Everything out there lives two ways, in harmony, or in conflict, and every decision is based on survival. Survival is the only responsibility. When that need is met, the world is your oyster. In civilization, we have tons of responsibilities, and that survival becomes more complex. It is not so cut and dry. The freedom and peace of mind Nature holds leaves us, and all the things that cloud our minds pile on. When our needs are met in civilization, we still have rules we have to play by and behavioral standards we have to follow dictated by population rather than immediate need.

    On the other hand, you could also read Conrad's Heart of Darkness or Golding's Lord of the Flies to see exactly what kind of effect Nature can have when Survival becomes the single responsibility.
     
  18. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Well, then you've met someone that would happily be able to live totally free. I find modern man to be clueless and pedantic. It's the old adage about freedom and sandwiches, to such a degree that I feel I was born into the wrong era.

    Maybe that's the hook for your story. Your leads view modern life, and go back to nature. Your story is an allegory on why they made the right choice, thereby winning over the reader.
     
  19. Lazy
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    Lazy Banned

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    Read this and then come back to us: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Wild_(book)
     
  20. shangrila
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    Personally, I like the idea of them giving in to their animal instincts. Or maybe it's not even that, maybe they just like being in their cat form but know they can't do it in a city.
     
  21. Word Dancer
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    There could have been an incident that made them want to leave civilization behind.
    Death of a loved one, or loved ones. Persecution. Reclusive by nature.
    They could each have very different reasons.
    Maybe society has changed in a way one or more of them despise?
     
  22. The Crazy Kakoos
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    The Crazy Kakoos Member

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    Perhaps they just need to clear their heads. Get away from the chaos of civilization.

    Human culture and society and be a stressful confusing mess at times.

    It's personally why I prefer living out on my farm. In the absence of crowds of people who constantly try to influence each other I notice a few things: 1. It's quiet, giving me the opportunity to think more on anything from life to who would win in a fight. 2. With the absence of people things are more simple and thus more stressless and 3. Relying more on yourself gives you more confidence.
     
  23. madhoca
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    Stress and/or fear of exposure could lead to them wanting to stop trying to fit into civilised urban society. It might be good to have an exciting trigger event which brings problems to a head and makes them decide the moment has come to go.
    As to wanting to exchange civilisation for life in the wild, lots of people sell up and head off to the country or a desert island, and millionaires like Howard Hughes become recluses and decide to stop interacting, it's not unusual in that respect. Also, theoretically they may know it's difficult, but when has knowing a course of action is dangerous put people off if that's what they're bent on doing?
     
  24. cavalee
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    cavalee New Member

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    I live in the middle of nowhere and I routinely go on survival treks. It's a lifestyle few understand but for those that "hear the call of the wild" it's irresistible.

    1.) Freedom. Your free from all the trappings of civilization, laws, mores, trends, rules... There's only one rule of survival - stay alive. Accolades, diplomas, the latest fashion mean absolutely nothing in the wild. All that matters is your basic needs and success is measured by whether you live to fight another day. You're also free to be completely yourself, imagine how liberating that would be.

    2.) Happiness. Do you have any idea how much work goes into obtaining food? The average citizen just jaunts to the grocery store without any effort. If you've ever had to hunt or grow your own food, it's grueling tasking labor for a very small reward. You take everything for granted in "civilization", air conditioners, running water, shelter, you have to work to the bone for these things in the wild. Nothing comes easy, you struggle for each and every thing. So when your belly is full and you have a comfortable place to get a full nights sleep, that's just pure bliss. Humans need so little to truly experience happiness. Learning to appreciate what everything is truly worth is priceless. think of a time you were desperately hungry or thirsty, do you remember how good that food or water tasted? You experience joy in a new way. All the anxieties, worries wash away because there's just so much work to be done you don't have time to sweat the small stuff.

    3.) Strength. You are responsible for your survival, no one else. If you fail, it's your fault. If you run into a problem, you can't google it, you can't call an expert, you can't dial emergency services, YOU have to solve it. Think of a time when you've exercised extremely hard or haven't slept all night and you hit a physical wall. It's human nature to retreat, seek respite. When you're on your own in the wild, you're going to hit limits and if you give up you die. You push pass limits you would have never thought possible and in doing so you discover an inner strength you never knew you possessed. You've heard that necessity is the mother of invention? You will find all sorts of resources you never would have discovered otherwise.

    4.) Being connected to something larger. We're removed from the cycle of life, death usually happens secreted away in hospitals. In the wild, the cycle of life is something you're is a daily reality. There's something really comforting about being plugged into that knowledge. Have you ever been awed by nature? A powerful thunderstorm, maybe a swift current, there's just something palpable, something bigger that fulfills your life like possessions can't.

    For inspiration, I'd suggest you spend some time outdoors, read Thoreau, Call of the Wild, wilderness training guides, watch wilderness survival shows, go spend time on a farm and get connected yourself and then you'll be able to convince your reader.
     
  25. GaleSkies
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    GaleSkies Active Member

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    Hang on a second. Who says "The wild is really tough"? I don't think it is. The wild is a terrible horrible term full of fears that society has forced on its members. It's called nature and there is food everywhere you look within nature. Albeit, biologists and naturalists will try to think of how hard life is for the large predators based on how scarce game is or cubs dying from starvation. That is a strictly human perspective of "the wild" imposed on the animals within it. Any reasons you come up with to "live in the wild" only further separate your perspective with the natural order. Humans try very desperately to convince themselves they are not part of nature. They are. They only hide from the fact that they are outside the laws of nature. Tell themselves that working 7 days a week is so much easier than idling the days away, foraging here for an hour, hunting there for an hour. Tell me a native americans were afraid to walk through the woods or were scared of the wild.

    - concepts paraphrased from Daniel Quinn's Ishmeal

    I hope those points are helpful with your characters. Daniel Quinn developed those thoughts and more through the course of 3 books. I don't know how your natural born werewolves or your shape shifters would feel about nature. If your story really needs a finite reason for your characters to "enter the wild" I'm sure you can come up with something. I'm a fan of the above as far as "reasons" go.

    P.S. please excuse the excessive use of quotations. And, are you also a fan of True Blood?
     

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