1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Would this scream 'Titanic' too much? Questions about sinking ships...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jul 2, 2012.

    Basically, I have a scene in my head where Heridon's family goes on a summer cruise ship (their family friend just invited them to come tag along on their vacation) This ship is on a cruise line straight to Mexico. Heridon just wants to stay onboard, and he meets a college student named Lucy. They don't fall in love (he already has a love interest), but they become friends as they share common interests in anime, videogames, movies, as well as world history.

    On the way back, something happens and the ship is sinking. What it is, I have no idea yet, but the ship lists to to port, disabling all the lifeboats there. As the crew radios for help and tries to keep the passengers calm, Lucy begins to think how poetic all this is that the two of them are on a sinking ship like in the movie Titanic, and Heridon just loses it. He begins yelling about how there is nothing poetic about a tragedy, that it is disgusting and disrespects the dead. Oh, and they have to stop the bad guy.

    Why does the ship have to sink? To add to the drama and urgency. They have to stop the culprit from escaping justice, as well as escape the ship themselves. Let's assume they're near the Carribean Islands and are nowhere near the Gulf of Mexico just yet.

    My questions:

    #1- As this is a mystery, would it be a tad cliche to have Heridon solve a mystery onboard the ship? It may not be outright murder, could just be simple theft, but still...I suspect this is something Agatha Christe would've done...

    #2- While Heridon and Lucy do not fall in love, and they just help each other solve the mystery, would the fact that they're on a sinking ship at all scream Titanic? Even if the pair got off fine and the coast guard/navy/whatever managed to get to the scene in time?

    #3- I have absolutely no knowledge in marine vessels. What would cause a cruise ship to start listing/sinking? Would coastguards/navy be able to tow the ship back to port? If the ship's sinking like that, would they still be able to get people into lifeboats on the opposite side of the ship or no? Would there really be a sense of urgency, since most everyone would likely survive a sinking cruise ship in this day and age?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Same answer as always. Don't obsess over similarities to other stories. You'll drive yourself nuts for no good reason.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I know, but still, they're on a sinking ship, and there's a scene where they talk about the movie Titanic. The reference is almost blindingly obvious, don't you think? But I see what you mean.

    As for the other thing...I'll have to do some serious research on cruise vessels.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, you'll have to do a ton of research, since you don't know anything at all about cruise ships or how one might sink...

    to answer one of your questions, if the ship is listed so seriously to either side that the lifeboats on the down side can't be used, then the lifeboats on the upper side could not be launched, either, as they'd be caught against the side of the ship and could not be lowered...

    i've sailed on cruise ships from small to huge, in the caribbean, the aegean, and the med, so if you want any firsthand detail, feel free to email me...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  5. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Mystery on a sinking ship, interesting.


    Unless the story is set in the Titanic era, I won't remember Titanic.

    Yes, dying on a sinking ship is rare in today's time but ships do sink and people die. Bad weather is a factor for preventing timely rescue in most cases.

    Again, bad weather can add conflict and urgency.
     
  6. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    What about the cruise liner that tipped over awhile back in the news. Some news reporters did reference the titanic by comparing structure of the ship and the events that took place?
     
  7. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    I know I'm new here, but had an idea for you. You could possibly have some of the crew abandon ship as well. That would certainly cause chaos and drama, and that's happened in real life unfortunately. It may be a way to get your MC to take charge and help organize matters for other passengers.

    I know next to nothing about ships, so not much help there. If it's listed to one side and you don't want mass calamity, maybe it can happen in shallow water off a remote coast.
     
  8. Furyvore
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    Furyvore Member

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    Adding to the bad weather comment above, you can make that the cause of the sinking. Make waves cause the ship to hit a rock or something causing a hull breach
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    True, but why would a crew/captain just abandon the passengers? Seems dishonorable.

    I can see my MC rallying together a small group of passengers to help each other and others figure out a way to survive. I was also thinking that the reason my MC won't leave the ship is because he's seperated from his own families (like they're on the way other side of the ship, and he wants to get them out too.) It might be a bit too unrealistic for everyone to listen to Heridon now, as he's just one more passenger out of a dozen. Maybe the captain and a few crewmen/women leave to get help, and in charge is an officer who isn't exactly all that equipped to deal with the crisis, and he just makes things worse?

    I didn't think of that!

    Hmm...maybe there is a flaw in the designing of the ship?
     
  10. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Please, don't do that.

    I can't speak for others, but there are few things more likely to make me throw a book against the wall and vow never to read another by that writer than characters making pop culture references. I've seen it far too often in first novels (usually unpublished) and screenplays (usually unproduced) where the writer seems to be using someone else's story as a crutch because they can't create the same emotional sensation themselves.

    Otherwise, you should probably look at some of the reports on the instability of modern cruise ships if you're going to write that story. From the news articles I've read, there seems to have been substantial concern about how the design can cause seemingly inexplicable events such as a hole on one side causing the ship to rapidly tip over on the other side. It might even give you a good method of making it to sink.
     
  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Don't worry, I wasn't planning on letting them talk about Titanic. Too easy and predictable, and I hate those kinds of stories myself. I want to surprise my readers and wring them emotionally through my own methods, not someone else's methods.

    I'll look into news reports of instability of modern cruise ships.
     
  12. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    I don't know what eventually happened, but I remember around the time of the recent cruise liner sinking there were various news reports that the captain had abandoned the ship, was ordered to go back by the Coast Guard (I think) and refused to do so.

    And this is fiction, where a story full of honourable characters is rarely much of a story.
     
  13. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    A wee bit dramatic, don't you think? Something happens and the ship is sinking just to add tension seems like it is a way to cover weakness in writing. Also the 'bad guy', needs a good background other then 'I blow up the ship for dramatic effect!' Though I'm not sure why the MCs would even be interested in going after a psychopath willing to sink the very ship he is on... which he probably doesn't have any control or familiarity with.

    You have a few options if you intend to sink the ship. Bombs, raid or catastrophic accident or sabotage. Bombs would likely be a no no on a cruise liner. Mexican cartel might be possible, but I don't think they typically attack cruise liners... though the Somali's have. Easy way to introduce a 'bad guy', but what is to gain for the 'bad guy' that can't be done in another fashion? A malfunctioning boiler or collision could damage the ship, but probably not sink it. Sabotage stands out, but the 'bad guy' is going to be either on shore or personally wrecking the ship he intends to sink. It has to be something very major as well; hijacking in open water won't allow for an easy suicide dash upon the rocks.

    Your first task should be figuring out how the ship is going to sink (since seems intentional) and why the bad guy wants to sink said ship. Then why would the MCs step up in place of the crew and risk their lives to do so. If by mystery you mean 'murder' then you don't need a sinking ship, the tension that you are confined on the same boat with a killer. Maybe a serial killer who kills those who find him out. An argument turned to murder, a witness is silenced... etc.

    Detective Conan did the Luxury Liner Serial Murder Case pretty well.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hmm...good point. If there's a murder, then there is no need to have a sinking, as I can easily create tension by having the killer go after the MC to silence him. No convulted, jarred sub-plot about the ship sinking, of which I'm sure I'd totally botch.
     
  15. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Heh, its like an airplane disaster movie... it just adds drama for the sake of drama despite any number of better ways to do so. I've seen a lot of the whole 'sinking ship' thing and well... let's just say that Poseidon, where the ship sinks upside down full of air and lands on an underwater cliff (right? Or was that another?) reminds me a lot of the exact same plot in a Pokemon story. Just looked it up... Yeah, Pokemon had the St. Anne sink and an underwater battle against Team Rocket, while the ship rocked on some pillar underwater. It had better writers then that other movie... haha.
     
  16. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    The most entertaining cruise novel I've read had one of the characters chased along the deck by a pack of wolves, then eaten by a sea monster, so sinking seems quite tame in comparison.
     

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