1. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Working around things you can't research or make something up for (about a secret organization)

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Boger, Feb 16, 2016.

    So, my WIP is at a point where the middle section is ready, and I am writing the intro. Now the intro is ready and I need to sew it together with the middle section. Which is fine, except I need to make up things while the part relies on somewhat factual real world factors.

    A somewhat paranoid detective is trying to find out more about a company and he has a friend who works in the financial world. He remembers something which he mentioned a while ago, about an unexplained economic puzzle, and that a solution to solving it would be to trace where the money goes... Just bar-talk. Now he thinks he can help him is his investigation, because he is intrigued in finding out if it is possible to trace where the money goes and what it tells about a company. Are millions pumped into it? Is it funded by the government? Is is all hidden? He wonders these things because he wants to know just what exactly he is dealing with and how serious it is.

    Well, so I need to add a fictional element to something about the real world which could be also plausible. I don't know much about it, but with a little creativity I should get there.

    A deus ex-machina would be a villain or circumstance that prevents them from finding out too much, and that way I only need to make up reasons why they CAN'T discover the 'truth'. An reason that is as well substantial evidence to assume with fair certainty what IS going on, or to make the main character want to discover the truth even more, by other means, such as following the person instead of trying to locate a hidden agenda for which there is no reason to assume it actually exists. It would be the solution to have their means of research sabotaged because this company doesn't want them to discover the truth and somehow they are intertwined with society in such a way that they know when someone, or someone of their interest is going to cause trouble.

    It's more like the main character wants it to exist because it would be convenient to him, because then he could say "I told you so" (to no-one in particular), and based on his findings work towards getting the truth out. But in stead, yes, that is what I will be doing, is write the part where they meet resistance. And resistance means there is... something.

    He runs into this situation by coincidence, so another coincidence to get him into it further (no-way-back further) would be repetitive. I favor above solution.


    Has anyone else written something that they could only progress by doing something radical in order to not get stuck?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I really can't follow this. What result do you need to come from the MC's investigation, in basic terms? Does he need to discover the truth or not? Does it need to lead to this shady organisation trying to stop him?

    I'd avoid coincidence and deus ex machina as far as possible.
     
  3. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    It is not necessary. He is going to be the hero and this part of the story is not very important however it is crucial to make the connection between being the main character who lives a questionably normal life, and becoming someone who has to struggle to survive because he is being hunted.

    One employee of the company approaches him, because he has an "adopted" child who used to know his niece. His niece had died quite a while back, a regretful accident which the main character was involved in. This employee is by any means breaking the sensible agreement for all employees to work in complete secrecy, he is not meant to talk to anyone about even working in a secret organization, *especially* not to a private detective. The personality of this guy is generally just a social and talkative person who is unnecessarily concerned with others, and as of yet I haven't got a reason to explicitly mention that this person approaches the detective in order for him to become suspicious. The news he brings, is that there is "hope", and he can't tell much more, and he always arrives in a black van of which the main character was convinced that is was following him.

    On top of that, it was the same person who he saw earlier talking to someone else he was supposed to meet, and he didn't want to seem rude and interrupt, so without them noticing, he waited and could listen to some of their conversation, which was slightly sinister. He got approached by this person later because the employee of the company recognizes him while driving off in the black van, and for the heck of it, followed him to his office.

    I know that is vague if you read it like this. Why does this all need to happen? Well, it's a WIP and once it is finished I'll let you read it to find out.

    I could also go with the option that this employee discovered some secrets as well, but due to the nature of the work he does, can't quit or talk about what he knows or even talk about knowing what he knows. He could have for example made a discovery by accident and find something out which he wasn't supposed to know, but that this is the way how he finds out that the company he works for is evil, and thus he approaches a private detective while pompously dropping some subtle clues without trying to make an idiot of himself.


    So, basically, either the person who makes the main character suspicious does this purposely because he knows things he isn't supposed to know, or the main characters finds out things he isn't supposed to know because he becomes suspicious and starts to ask questions he wasn't supposed to ask.

    The question for me is how.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Both of those are fine and not coincidence or deus ex machina. The latter is preferable because it makes your character more active in driving the plot.

    No idea. I still don't understand what's going on.
     
  5. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Maybe this should be in plot development.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Maybe. I've got a cold so it could just be that my brain isn't computing (happens even when I'm perfectly well...) but if I were you I'd lay it out much more simply because I'm not entirely sure what you're asking.

    I don't think this is your question, but it shows how you could lay it out:

    "My MC needs to be hunted by a secret organisation. The ways this can happen are:

    1. An employee of Secret Organisation, who feels indebted to MC because of a past favour, tips him off about some shady dealings.

    2. MC becomes suspicious of Secret Organisation for [reason] and begins digging into its financial dealings."
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is very unclear.

    1/ Do you mean employer, or employee? It reads as if you mean employee.
    2/ Who has the "adopted" child (why the quotes? Was the child not actually adopted?) and who has the niece.

    More to the OP (I think!) is that, as an accountant, I have occasion to check on the credit-worthiness of potential customers. The information that is available from a credit checking agency (obtained from published accounts) can be quite informative. If you could put what you are trying to do with your MC a little more clearly, perhaps I could suggest what (in a similar scenario) I would be able to find out, and what I might deduce, for your villainous company.

     
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  8. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Woah, that would be greatly appreciated and on-topic.

    I meant employee, yes. Sorry.

    The child is in custody of the organization and legally, the organization is his parent. Actual parents were part of the organization and just before they died, they were legally owned by the organization and they had a "happy" marriage from which this child came.
    The niece was a childhood friend of this kid and is the niece of the main character, she died in an accident.

    The organization runs some project on its own, in physical buildings, with real people who are normal members of society, and the "employee" is one of them, and the child is part of a scientific project.

    The evil organization has several departments, more than I have even defined, and is deeply rooted in society. It is so old, secretive and compartmentalized that employees can work as enemies under the same employer. It is a dystopia, so these things can happen, and more maleficent things than this happen. In fact, it seems to be only aimed at controlling people just for the sake of controlling people, through whatever means. This is not knowledge anyone knows. I won't make this the narrative in the WIP. It all seems like a normal world we live in now. A lot of companies are stimulated by this organization because they have a campaign to fund businesses in return for information, innovation and technology.

    So, on paper, they help several branches develop products and even in healthcare and seem to be doing a lot of charity, and also just start new businesses to do work for them legally, with the intention to put the results to use illegally, in secret.

    They also, which will be the main character's main interest, run a huge secret human trafficking network (remnants from the slavery), but this is more of a plot development thing.

    They are so powerful that they have their own kind of economic system going... Money in normal terms, no matter how much, means nothing to them. No-one ought to know they are manipulating society as a whole, or what they are capable of.

    At some point The MC gets suspicious and wonders if there could be traces or unexplained phenomena that could indicate general malpractice, so he talks to someone with a little understanding of economics

    (sorry for the edits in between.)

    Four points to Gryffindor!
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  9. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    How's it going, @Shadowfax ?
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, your posts suggest that it's an alternative reality/future that differs from the present scenario, so WHATEVER I say is subject to poetic licence.

    So, this is all with current (UK) information.

    1/ Looking at a published set of accounts I can see the directors of a company and their addresses.

    The address MAY be their home address, quite often (especially for a large corporation - which I think you're talking about) it's the company's registered office; in which case, all the directors will have the same (office-y) address. Sometimes you'll get John Smith and Mary Jones with the same address, and Dave Scrimgeour with a different address, which implies that Smith and Jones are related.

    You'll also get the shareholdings, which will indicate who's got the power. Something like J.Smith 49%, M.Jones 49%, D.Scrimgeour 2%, which means that Scrimgeour is merely an employee in the family business.

    2/ There will be an event history, which will indicate if there's been a recent change in the directors or company secretary. This may mean something or nothing.

    3/ The financials are, obviously, what an accountant really salivates over...

    A smaller company can make use of an exemption that allows it to report a much briefer set of accounts, basically just a balance sheet, but you're looking at big boys.

    The Profit & Loss will show the turnover, and you'd hope to see a steady growth in that, with an equally steady increase in net profit, and the detail figures (cost of sales, wages & salaries, depreciation & interest) at a steady percentage of turnover.

    The Balance Sheet you'll always get, and here you're looking for things to make sense. Like, if I owe £500k to Creditors but my Debtors are only £250k, I'd better have more than the difference as cash, or I'm going to go broke if all the creditors come knocking. Or (and I saw this in the case of a large organisation whose demise I predicted) you might have a large figure as "Intangible Assets". What this means, in its broadest sense, is that somebody has said "Oh, this is worth more than we paid for it because...". If you've bought another company for an inflated price because EVERYBODY loves Tricky Dicky Doggie Treats, and will pay a premium price rather than the sensible price that the competition charges, you may be able to make "super"profits on the back of this, and you will write off those super-profits against the price you paid to buy the company. But, if you haven't got a sound reason why the company's worth that much, you'll end up going broke.

    While writing this, I checked out a company I worked for a few years ago, who are now doing rather well.

    1/ 5 directors, 3 based in another country, 2 were with the company when I was there. All 5 have a different address, so looks like their home addresses.
    Shareholdings are a large block for a holding company and smaller amounts for the two old boys, and I could drill down to confirm that the 3 foreign directors are also directors of the holding company.

    2/ Event history...nothing for the last 5 years...stability like that is SOOOOO hard to find (and good to see!)

    3/ Financials...boringly solid!

    Best thing, I think, is if you write something based around what I've said (complete with what you hope the accountant can find), and let me see if I can point out anything that doesn't make sense, or try to spice it up with something else. He may not be able to find it the way you suggest, but there may be some back door.
     
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  11. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    I think I've found a solution that doesn't require to focus on theses details. Thanks though, I really appreciate. Some way it helped to inspire me to look better for suitable solutions.


    The MC will trace the visitor otherwise and meet him. They will both be confused: the mysterious man thinking the MC wants to be involved or work for them, the MC thinking he made a statement by stalking him to create more distance.

    The employee will talk with his superior on this, a villain who will have his own idea of recruitment. Motivation could be because the villain wants to get rid of the MC who turns out to have a significant threatening ability to their organization even if he doesn't know it himself. (yeah it's SF)

    This is when the MC gets abducted and wakes up where he doesn't want to be, and the main part of seven chapters begins.

    Now I need to think of a scene where he still discovers what he's gotten into, for continuity and to justify his behavior later on. Secondly, a scene to close the plot hole I opened with the villain. Finally, to focus on an end sequence, because there's so much connection between two originally separate stories that I can't just fluently make it into a sequel..

    At last I start to see it going towards completion after nearly two years.
     

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