1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Would this put you off?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mckk, Sep 8, 2014.

    My co-author came up with a seriously wacky idea for our sequel. I can see the pros of the idea but perhaps I'm just a little conservative - I'm not sure if readers would be put off by it or not?

    Bear in mind this is supposed to be dystopian romance - NOT paranormal/horror. So far throughout the first book, there's not been any particularly strange, out of this world, or magical-seeming elements in it. It's set in the future and carriers of the virus turn into what we call Infected (similar to zombies you could say) and obviously society works a little differently with more advanced technology, but otherwise everything happens like in the real world.

    So, the idea is this: to cure one of the virus, whether said individual has "turned" yet or not, they must drink the blood of someone who's developed immunity.

    Yes it would shock everyone I think - but would you be put off by this, or intrigued? I can't tell. It would obviously be revealed towards the end as part of a twist/climax. And it would go to explain why the first city in the first book hasn't been able to find the cure because well, who thinks of drinking someone else's blood normally?

    My co-author likes it because 1. it's the opposite to vampires lol and quite unusual, 2. it'll bring a whole host of new problems that could mean a third book. Namely questions of how much blood one would need to drink to be cured, how's one human supposed to supply enough to cure so many - it's not possible - so the new question that arises would be who gets chosen to be cured. And it'll bring problems with our characters facing kidnapping/attack/murder threats and how they would cope. We're happy to tackle all these questions.

    I just want to make sure the blood thing doesn't put off readers. If it's too absurd. Too outside of the dystopian genre. Too unscientific. I dunno. Thoughts?
     
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  2. Empty Bird
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    Empty Bird Member

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    It depends how you described it. (Hey, by the way!) I mean, if it's et in a technological world, and you described it technologically or scientifically, then it could slip into the genre.

    I personally would be put off, but that's just because I hate the idea of drinking blood and despise vampires. But that's just me as an indivudual. If you wrote it in the right way, it could work. :)
     
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  3. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    It would also depend on how they drink it, I would think. Do they kill the person first and open a vein then and there? Is death and/or attack necessary for effectiveness somehow? Could a person, say, a volunteer, donate blood and let the victim drink it in a cup later? With a straw? lol.:D)

    I think you'd have to figure out the logistics before you could really answer this question. If drinking the blood was a violent act involving death or a non-consensual donation (sort of like rape or something), then clearly yes, it would be off-putting. On the other hand, if you were to build it up as a sort of network that is organized to 'donate' blood to affected individuals it could actually become quite different. Almost heroic and civilized, even. You might even be able to have a thing where people profit if they have some sort of extraordinarily rare blood (I'm thinking of AB blood types, for ex.)

    Again, I don't know how you would do it. But I think the response to the act itself would depend largely on how it was presented and how it was harvested and consumed. LOL. ;)
     
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  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Sounds a bit silly to me. Are they then cured or do they get immunity? There's a difference. Drinking blood is easy if done by just drawing blood the good ol' medical way. So it's not really vampire, just the baseline for a medication. In fact, they could probably get immune volunteers to give blood. Certainly not as violent potentially as you might think initially. And if drinkers also become immune, soon it's pretty much not a problem. Anyway...
     
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  5. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    I like it. I dont find it particularly shocking but it does offer some opportunity for internal conflict, exploitation and maybe even some moral angst for your characters. It sparks all the same controversy that say the use of stem cells does.
     
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  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I like the concept: you can choose to either be a 'zombie' or a 'vampire' :) Like others, I wonder exactly what you mean by 'cure' though: are you saying it will eliminate existing disease, prevent disease emerging after exposure to the virus, or grant protection from ever acquiring the disease?

    How realistic/true to science do you want to be?

    Cure via drinking blood is probably unrealistic. The concept would be a form of passive immunity, meaning that the recipient is merely using the blood as a form of antidote/medicine (e.g. how snake antivenin works); this would probably not stimulate the recipient to develop their own active immunity (i.e. it may be a 'band-aid' then and there, but they'd be prone to reinfection). Acquired immunity (ongoing protection from infection) would probably require exposure to some form of the virus itself (perhaps a modified, safe variant, or a naturally occurring version that's similar but not harmful) - this is the basis of vaccination.

    Proposing blood-drinking as passive immunity: the immune components (antibodies are probably the most well-known and relevant) within the donor's blood would need to be absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream in order to travel around the body and be of use. Unfortunately, antibodies etc cannot be absorbed over the human intestinal wall to any great extent (if they even survived the preceding digestive tract!). (Humans differ from many animals in that passive immunity from mum - maternal immunity - is transferred over the placenta. Many animals have minimal placental transfer, but for the first 1-2 days of life the baby's gut is 'open' and antibodies etc can move across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The first type of milk the mother animal makes is a special, thick, sticky, immune-rich secretion called colostrum. It's very important that baby animals drink enough of this before their gut 'closes', otherwise they'll be very prone to infections during their early days in the outside world, and generally won't thrive if they survive.)

    (Back to humans,) breastmilk is considered beneficial to babies because (amongst other benefits) it contains a specific type of antibody (IgA) that binds to surfaces (such as the surface of the intestines) and can protect against attack from adjacent nasties (this is a type of local immunity called mucosal immunity). Blood also contains IgA, but drinking it would probably only be helpful if your disease was confined to the gastrointestinal tract.

    I'd find it more realistic (but maybe of less dramatic merit/impact) to have them harvest blood for the development of hyperimmune serum (e.g. snake antivenin, tetanus anti-toxin), which could be injected to neutralise virus within the recipient. Logistically easier (concentrated, so wouldn't need litres of it), and presumably safer as it could be purified and sanitised (there are plenty of other blood-borne diseases!). But remember, serum would only treat, not prevent.

    I think you'd have to do some contriving to get the blood-drinking thing to be plausible, but that's just where your creativity comes into play. Consider how the immune system works and come up with a way the humans or the virus could alter its normal function so that blood-drinking would make sense. There is an awful lot of immunology theory to mine for inspiration. It's a complex subject, and I'm no expert (hopefully haven't told you any outright lies). 'How your virus functions' may be a key area to probe.

    And vaccination offers more creative avenues! Where could they find or how could they make a 'safe' version of the virus to inoculate people with?

    If you'd explored other scientific concepts, I'd find an unexplained 'blood-drink cure' jarring. But if hard science was never a priority, I'd happily suspend my disbelief, as it's an interesting idea. Is blood taken without consent? Would big pharma exploit immune individuals for profit? As others have pointed out, blood banks would be entirely feasible (just as they currently are). How common is it to develop immunity to the virus rather than succumb to it (thus what supply-demand type implications are in place? Who can afford the treatment? How desperate would others be?)?

    I do wonder if focusing on this would steer you down more of a sci-fi/economical/political/moral path though, and if your focus had been on the romance, something transgressive like this might be offputting to your audience (a la @Empty Bird ). But if it was more a part of the setting and you focused on the personal side of it, I think it could be done; just depends what kind of story you're trying to tell! Best of luck with it, however it goes :)

    Be a little careful with the phrase "carriers of the virus": 'carrier' connotes someone who posseses the agent of a disease (bacteria, viruses, genetics, whatever) without being affected by the disease itself (e.g. HIV vs AIDS). Carriers can pass the agent to others who may develop the disease, but they might never actually develop it themselves (or they may just be in a stage of the disease process before their own symptoms emerge).
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you for all your responses and for asking all these interesting questions. The virus that we have lives in the intestines, so the virus-curing blood wouldn't have to go through the intestinal wall actually to be of use. I must say I am a bit more conservative and am still on the fence with the idea.

    My co-author however, having read the thread, thinks it would be awesome if the blood doesn't 'cure' the virus but only treats it temporarily, which means to stay healthy, one must keep drinking the blood. Which is an even bigger problem that she doesn't think has been done before so she's now very excited about it lol.

    As for how scientific we want this - it's primarily romance set in a dystopian backdrop with the main driving plot being that of curing the virus. Basically it's good if it's scientific, but it is not of the utmost importance. Our target audience is more dystopian/romance/action rather than the sciency crowd lol.
     
  8. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    The other question is, who and how do they find out that the blood of an immune person helps cure (or control) the virus? And, once the infected ones find out, do they suddenly go into panic mode trying to find and bite the immune ones essentially creating a riot and eventually killing off the source of the blood that can help them ... OOO, Interesting idea you got there @Mckk !
     
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  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Haha I'm glad you like the idea! The plan is they find out because an Infected attacks someone who has immunity to the virus. Our Infecteds are essentially carnivores who are also cannibals. So our Infected character (we have a POV character who's an Infected) will try and eat one of our other POV characters (who is immune to the virus) and the Infected comes back supposedly "cured". I guess they'll find out the "cure" isn't permanent a little later.

    As for would the Infected turn to panic mode - that's an interesting question. I think certainly some might. Ooh, yet another conflict! The carrier humans would certainly turn to panic mode.
     
  10. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Oh absolutely! they would be running around trying to fend off the attacks from the infected ones, especially as you've not said whether or not an infected one would have to drink all the blood of an immune one or not .... oh I can really see this going somewhere!

    SPOILER>>>>

    I'm not comparing it to WWZ, but this is what I liked about that story, the fact that the zombies didn't just eat everyone in their path, they sought out only healthy humans to infect with the zombie virus, anyone that was ill, disabled or dying was completely ignored. By only infecting healthy humans, the zombie virus was protecting it's longevity.

    Chaos theory and "Life will find a way ..." comes to mind.
     
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  11. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    it would completely turn me off 110%

    However, I did think of one thing, would the person drinking the blood also start to inherit that other person's characteristics/traits?

    So if the person donating the blood is smart or stupid, has a gambling problem or has had a past alcohol problem , etc etc.. would the person drinking that person's blood eventually get those problems/blessings as well over time depending on much they throw down the hatch?

    actually I like this idea period.

    Forget the fact that they are drinking it. People in a hospital are getting blood transfusions just like normal and they start to adopt the previous persons traits somehow because maybe the blood has been transformed in some way.
     
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  12. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's off-putting at all.

    The first question that came to my mind though is, why do they have to drink the blood? Why can't they just get a transfusion? I think it's something to address, either drinking it causes the "cure" to happen faster, or they just don't have access to needles or something.

    Also, no offense to aguywhotypes, I would steer clear of people adopting the traits of others. If this isn't a fantasy or sci fi or horror or whatever novel, having people drink the blood of other people and start turning more like them is dramatically pushing those boundaries.

    Scientifically, it makes sense that blood of immune people could help cure other people. There's actually a man in Australia (James Harrison) who's blood is used to treat Rhesus disease, so he's donated over a thousand times to help save lives.

    I think if you stick with a somewhat scientific reasoning behind this, it's very intriguing. Steer to far away from that though, and it just becomes shock value -- nothing more than a stunt for the reader.
     
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  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    One possible down side: The concept has been used, in the movie Daybreakers. (Unless I'm very confused, but I don't think so.) I realize that nothing is ever really new, but I thought you'd want to know.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You say your world is 'dystopian.' So do they have science, scientific labs, instruments, etc? You say they have 'technology' but it's not clear if it will play a part in this 'cure.' I'd be somewhat interested in this idea if science played a part in it, but probably a lot less interested if it just involved groups of Infected hunting down groups who aren't. That becomes not much more than just a horror story, and I'm not really a fan. I am a fan of sci-fi, though, so I'd be interested in a more scientific approach to this dilemma.
     
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  15. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    wait... so the bad guys want blood, and the good guys need blood? So the bad guys are cured after taking a bite, but as a human again they can eat humans, to remain human? Or if they don't eat humans, they turn back into a zombie vampire and...guess what....eat humans!
    Its a bit of a paradox, and I think what sounds like a good idea would probably have too many loopholes to be able to work.
    100% turned off.
     
  16. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    I like this idea, but I agree with those who say it has to be done in the right way, both in terms of not making it off-putting in general and also to make it fit the genre.

    It also reminds me of an idea I'm planning to use in my current (science/urban fantasy) novel. In it the seven remaining "superheroes" of a group of nine sent to protect a planet get the idea that they should do something that symbolises their loss and the sacrifice they make when they continue to stand up and fight the bad guys and at the same time it would set them apart from the civilians they are protecting, so that innocent bystanders are less likely to be attacked or mistook for them. Plus it would make it harder for the bad guys to tell the superheroes apart and it would instil fear into them. The problem, though, is that the thing they're doing to achieve these effects isn't some cutesy little tattoo or bracelet, but is literally them gouging their own eyes out. Despite the fact that they will still be able to see because of the magic they wield, this has several obvious and some non-obvious effects.

    Doesn't this make them just as bad or crazy as their enemies, or at least hurt their reputation? Is it worth it even if they end up winning because of it? Won't it haunt them when the world is saved and they're otherwise living in paradise?

    And then there are the psychological effects; for instance one character constantly breaks down when thinking about having "lost her humanity" and thinks she is no longer beautiful nor loved by anyone, and the trauma of it all make her forget what her eyes looked like and make her an icy shell of a human being.

    Despite all of this I think it could be an interesting element to introduce into the story, largely because it shows that everyone can make mistakes, because none of those who did it would have done it if they knew what it would lead to, yet they end up winning the war and most of the characters deal with it well. In the end, as a reward by their goddess, they get their eyes back and they live happily ever after, and the character I mentioned earlier is ecstatic because she realises that her boyfriend and her family always supported and loved her through it all anyway.

    EDIT: I might end up having them only change the colours of their eyes (the entire eyeball, though) to black rather than gouge their eyes out, as the latter might be unnecessarily grotesque.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
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  17. Jaro
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    Jaro Active Member

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    To answer this question: Yes and no. There will always be readers who would stay away from anything like this, and there will always be readers that flock toward this kind of stuff. I guess it really depends on your target audience, but from a horror stand point, sickening gore can be a pretty standard thing.
     

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