1. Al Fields

    Al Fields New Member

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    Creating believable "factions" with believable motives?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Al Fields, Apr 5, 2018.

    I'm in the process of world building for a novel but am struggling to create a beleivable motive for the antagonist. In this case it's the government in a future cyberpunk inspired earth. There are two classes: one that is wealthier and lives in a clean cut version of the world, and another that is poor and lives in a grungier city with much less agreeable living conditions.

    Originally, it's revealed late into the story that the wealthier class is trying to get rid of or wipe out the other, but I can't actually come up with a reason that makes sense. They're segregated and already largely unaffected by the lower class. Why would they go out of their way to destroy them?
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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  2. Andrew Alvarez

    Andrew Alvarez Senior Member

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    Maybe some of these makes sense to your story, about why a small segment of population would like to remove a larger, even if yet unaffected:

    -Religion. It's a human favorite motive to eradicate other people.
    -An imminent revolt: get them before they get you!
    -Disease control: self explaining.
    -Crowd control: "a purifying fire that keeps the forest under control".
    -Fun: Just because they can do it.
    -Accident: something has been unleashed upon certain individuals that must disappear for their own good.
    -Paranoia: the certain that a revolt is coming, even if isn't.
    -Social engineering: to replace them by someone- or something- else.
    -Lack of resources:too many mouths to feed.
    -Genetic aberration: the inbreeding has harmed the society's gene pool on that segment.

    Can't figure others by the moment. It must be something really necessary or worthwhile for culling a society's workforce. Maybe later could add others.
     
  3. Al Fields

    Al Fields New Member

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    I'd say almost all of these would easily work in the context of my story. A few of them don't work simply because of small details that would poke plot holes into the narrative. I'm almost embarrassed I couldn't think some of these up on my own. I guess I burned myself out and just hit a wall.

    I can't thank you enough!
     
  4. soupcannon

    soupcannon Active Member

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    1. noun; the act or process of locating.
    We all reach a blank page now and then and find ourselves stalled for ideas. That's what the folks on this site are for, because sometimes a fresh perspective can fire things up again, and that blank page doesn't look so daunting anymore.
     
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  5. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

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    Seems to me that any answer to this question would need to be grounded in some backstory. How did these two factions come to be? Has the upper class faction always wanted to get rid of the lower class faction, but they previously didn't have the means? Or did they previously tolerate or even need the lower class for something? If so what's changed?

    I'd say their motivation should flow from the answers to these. It shouldn't be the last thing you drop in.
     
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  6. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    You could easily dig into history for this.

    The mostly likely way to accomplish this is to have only a few people making the decisions and have everyone else in the dark. 99.9999% of Nazis had no clue what was going on in the concentration camps.

    Most of the time, the second class is a scapegoat for some type of problem, so I would figure out what type of problem your society is facing. Going back to Germany, in the 1930s, the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany into an unsustainable economic strain, trying to pay back war reparations. They also borrowed in order to do that, and then the western market collapsed so money became worthless. This caused people to flock to left and right political extremes (left being communism and right being nationalism.)


    Sometimes, you have to purge some of the lower class to maintain the social structure as well. In ancient Sparta, the Spartans would wage a yearly war against their slaves. The reason was simply because Sparta was small, resources were limited, and if gone unchecked, eventually the slave population would outnumber the Spartans, which would be bad. The Romans had a similar problem where their slave population exploded but their citizen population increased slowly.
     
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  7. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's also important to consider -even within the realms of this one faction - who "they" actually are.

    Is it one individual's ideology that has corrupted the minds of everybody else? The influence of a few particularly wealthy individuals? Because it's decidedly less likely that this society collectively thinks all of a sudden to persecute this other faction. So it comes back to as @Robert Musil alluded to earlier - what are the origins of the conflict? When did people start to feel this way and why?

    ---

    Also, consider that one faction is not just one homogeneous unit. Within this faction, there.will be infighting, power grabs, different ideologies too.

    Most important advice of all - consider who amongst the rich faction doesn't agree with killing off the poor faction, and why. It doesn't even have to be the obvious moral reason. Maybe they will stand a lot to lose from all the cheap labour that is lost. Maybe they hope that if they help the poor faction, the poor faction will be grateful to them, and that means that they will end up on top. Or maybe they just hate the person in charge and just helping the poor people out of spite.

    Additionally, you don't have to pick just one of the many excellent options for motivations suggested by @Andrew Alvarez . You can have multiple reasons, perhaps believed by different people within one group. The best way of creating more believable factions is to have those people working towards the same goal, for different reasons. And in that manner, you are creating potential for more conflict, which is always good in any novel, and gives you more options, opens new doors.

    It's never as simple as A vs. B.
     
  8. SnapWrex1

    SnapWrex1 Member

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    I think that it depends on the factions, as they can have disagreements and infighting which creates groups within the faction. Some of the most common reasons for war (and there can be overlap) are economic gain, territorial dispute and revenge.

    As for possible motives; maybe the powerbase of the rich is built on something fragile and someone from the poor community has exposed a dark secret that could upset the balance of power. Maybe there is a suspected terrifying plague and the rich are enacting a brutal quarantine. You could also consider dissenting views among the factions, such as those among the rich who don't want the poor dead, or someone from the poor is trying to wipe out their faction for personal gain. These are just starting points to try and get the ball rolling; I hope they help.
     
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  9. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    If one side is not harming the other in any way, there is no real reason why they should be wiped out. So you have to figure out how the lower class is harming the upper class, even if it's a bad reason or one that is simply invented by the upper class. Either they're a drain on resources, or there's some philosophical reason the upper class believes the lower class should die, or they're afraid the lower class will rise up against them... there has to be something that can be understood by the reader that doesn't come off as mustache-twirling.
     
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  10. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I don't know a lot about steam punk, but most fights/wars/arguments are to do with power. Even if the lower class has nothing to fight with, the upper class will fight first in a bid to forever keep the lower class at bay.

    After all, more often than not, the lower class revolt will start with just one person questioning the way things are run, they will find someone who agrees with them and then they will form a group. Before you know it, a revolution has started. And it doesn't have to be one of pitchforks and fires, it could be of words and deeds. If your upper classes want to stop this from happening, then they are going to want to make sure they always have the upper hand over the lower classes.

    Maybe upperclass numbers are in decline whereas the lower classes are becoming more and more, so the uppers fear for their land, city, way of life?

    It's totally up to you, of course, but maybe the uppers are just fighting because they fear change ...
     
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  11. GStohl

    GStohl New Member

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    My advice: Do some historical research and identify a couple of situations in history that saw analogous conflict. Based on your description, the U.S. invasion of Iraq provides a potential analogy. You could argue that Bush needed to look strong in international relations; that he needed to distract from a local problem (such as the economy); or whatever. He took advantage (you could argue) that he took advantage of Americans' mild-to-severe racism when it comes to all things Middle East, or even that he himself was ignorant of the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, etc. The more in-depth your research goes, the more ideas you'll get for a motive. Once you come up with your motivation, you'll have to think of a couple of dozen different ways to lay the groundwork for the ultimate reveal of the Big Motive. Do your characters use epithets? Are there vague references to past conflict? Etc.
     
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  12. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    This was in fact a very popular view among intellectuals until recent decades.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
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  13. grimshawl

    grimshawl Member

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    It has been my experience in life that relatively intelligent individuals join groups, especially large groups and then proceed to do very stupid things.
     
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  14. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    To expand on @Andrew Alvarez's excellent suggestions, take a look into Malthusian Collapse. It's been argued (full disclosure: I agree with the basic premise) that the Earth is unsustainably overpopulated. In Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson has a world with ten or eleven billion people and a longevity/immortality treatment in play. Most people are poor as dirt, but an engineer for one of the six or so richest multinational corporations on the planet is called to a seminar to discuss solutions to the problem. They consider everything from the "ant farm" option, where (sorry, might be off on the exact numbers) the planet could sustain 20 billion or so, as long as everyone had a function and every function had a person, with ruthless culling, to an "immortal tiger" version with a planet of 700 million or so people living what we'd consider ultra-billionaire lifestyles. One of the options was to create a plague that would kill off everyone (poor people) who hadn't had the longevity treatment. There's always a Certain Faction of Elites who think that Certain Groups of People do nothing for society but breed and consume resources.

    Of course, Douglas Adams considered the same problem, but when the Right People sent all the telephone handset sanitizers to the east for resettlement on a voyage of interstellar colonization, those remaining ended up dying of a disease transmitted by dirty telephone handsets.
     
  15. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    This, and maybe write out a bit of a summary for each and see which one you like the most, if multiple make it work!
     
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  16. SnapWrex1

    SnapWrex1 Member

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    There can also be some overlap between things. If you want to go the transhuman route, social engineering could be the bad guy's motivation and also throw in some crowd and disease control. In history, religion alone is rarely the sole motivation for attacking other people, and even then it depends on the religion (the Crusades began with European Christians helping defend Byzantine and Middle Eastern Christians suffering persecution by Muslims, and speaking of Islam even ISIS - deplorable as they are - have more goals than just "kill those who don't revere Allah", usually financial and political gains), so again, you can mix other things.

    Human history is a good thing to look into for motives.
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for this. It's the same question I meant to ask. How did this situation arise, and who benefits from it?

    Usually a 'lower class' does some kind of physical work for an upper class ...or at least they did until technology made them redundant, maybe?

    Just follow the current UK Tory government's approach to the poor, sick, disabled, unemployed, etc. Ditto the current US president's approach to the issue. That should give you clues as to what the upper class could do to wipe out the lower classes. Take away all their rights. Cut all means of support. Even, perhaps, make being poor a crime in itself. But also think of consequences. Who will NOT be on board with this approach, and what are they likely to do about it?

    The one thing that's likely to happen, given the current state of affairs, is that the numbers of poor people are likely to grow, while the numbers of reasonably affluent people are likely to shrink. That's the mistake the aristocrats made prior to the French Revolution. They were simply outnumbered and overcome. Is that possible in your world?

    The solution to the situation can be way out there in terms of being unrealistic ...or it can be realistic. An unrealistic solution is usually easier for a writer to come up with, but a realistic solution will have greater impact on the reader. So choose your route with that in mind.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
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