1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Gone for three days

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by deadrats, Sep 25, 2019.

    I'm working on a story and close to finishing it. One of the characters disappears for three or four days. He's missing something that could be seen as important. I'm not sure where he went or why he's missing or what he's been doing. This isn't a main part of the story or the main character, but I think I need to address his disappearance before the story ends. Does anyone have a good idea as to why someone would go off the grid unexpectedly for a few days? I've been thinking about this and don't really like anything I've come up with. So, fellow writer, can you help me out with this one. What's a good reason for someone to temporarily disappear, especially right before they're expected to show up for something. Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some suggestions.
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Benders and drug binges are the usual culprits in my experience. I've known people to shut off their phone and disappear into the woods/mountains, too. Had a cousin who did that... wouldn't tell anyone. He just had to "get away."
     
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  3. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Family emergency. Happens all the time, and anybody actually having one doesn't really care about cleaning up prior arrangements.

    Depressive episode.

    Bipolar disorder where they forgot to take their medication. They go into a manic episode for a few days before coming back to their usual selves. My uncle has done this. Tracked him down across three state lines before we found him and got him back home. He takes his medication religiously now.
     
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  4. Mish

    Mish Senior Member

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    Some choices:

    * Mental break down / psychosis
    * Early onset of dementia
    * In the hospital, recovering from a car crash
    * Found a new romantic interest, they are now traveling
    * Needed to "take a break from it all for awhile"
    * Won a lotto and disappeared into his new mansion

    Less likely but probable:

    * Abducted by aliens
    * Abducted by a secret government black chopper in a case of mistaken identity
    * Abducted by a Russian oil tycoon (just for the hell of it)
    * Discovered by the manager for a trendy boy band, they are now touring
     
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  5. Rence

    Rence Member

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    My first thought was a mental health issue as suggested above. The worry for this is would be how much you need to change to "set it up" because it may seemed forced if you don't build to it.
     
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  6. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    'So that's why the professor stole the gold coins...'

    'Shaggy, where you been?'

    'Hi guys, a depressive episode, y'know, county jail and some hookers, and umm heroin overdose.'

    'Just glad you're back. As I was saying, the professor...
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Changed his mind and didn't want to admit to it

    Changed his mind and intended to let 'you' know but never got around to it

    Got cut off at the last minute because his broadband/phone died

    Went to the event— but went to the wrong place or at the wrong time (got the dates mixed up)

    Got in a car crash or sustained some injury and is in hospital

    Went somewhere else beforehand and wasn't able to get back in time (car trouble, bus late, flight cancelled, etc)

    Got thrown out of his home and no longer gives a shit

    Lost the relevant address/phone number

    Depending on his character, he got a better offer and decided to take it

    He's a coward

    He's forgetful (in a non-dementia way)

    Somebody (either maliciously or innocently misinformed) told him the event was no longer happening ...or that you were mad at him, or that you no longer wanted or needed him to be there
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
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  8. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    'Hey, Joyce, haven't seen you in a while.' said Terry, trying to sound disinterested but coming off as nosey.

    'Hey, Terry, just took a personal, you know,' and Joyce hid her pain with a smile.


    Just as a thought, would the reader need to know everything that goes on? I mean we do a lot of stuff in our lives. Family members living far apart never get to see what the other members are actually doing, just get the abbreviated version on occasion when they meet up. We often live our lives fragmented in the eyes of others.
     
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  9. Rence

    Rence Member

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    If they disappeared at the time they were supposed to show up for something, could you work it that they were scared to show up?

    Could you tell us what the "something" is as it might help get better suggestions?
     
  10. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Edit them out of every scene.
     
  11. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Or the opposite. Ran out of coke and meth and just slept for half the week.
     
  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks for the idea. Keep em coming if you've got more. Just to add a little... My character is a pretty normal guy, but a bit of an unsuccessful schemer. He's missing out on one of his scams that is actually making money because of his actions. Drugs and mental health problems are out because they don't quite fit with the rest of the story. I have less than 1k words to wrap up this short story. The rest of it is pretty solid (for a first draft).

    I kind of like @Krispee's take that maybe the reader doesn't need to know where he went, but in the age of cell phones and technology, it's a little hard for me to accept he's just gone. It probably only needs to make sense to the other characters. I don't know if I could pull that off. It might take some reworking of the story.

    I also thought of a gambling trip where he could win big or lose big. I don't know if that would keep him away from collecting more money, though. And I'm not sure it would be such a secret to go to a casino. I don't want to give him a gambling problem so much because he's already a troubled man in other ways.

    Again, he's not the main character. But he is responsible for the main event of the story. I just don't want him there.

    Also, this is the end of the story so I want some sort of conclusion as to the chain of events he put into place. How could I leave is disappearance a mystery? I'm open to suggestions about this and other reasons he's gone. Thanks for all your help. I could still use more if you guys think of anything.
     
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  13. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    Actually, even if you did acknowledge the absence you don't need to elaborate. A sentence, maybe less, a couple of lines of speech. You don't need much if the absence isn't actually part of the story.
    That may be the heart of it; if it's not part of the story it's not important to the story.
     
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I guess the other option would be to have him show up at the end. But wouldn't he need to explain himself to those wondering why he just took off? I don't usually get stuck like this. It's an otherwise good story and I don't want the ending to kill it. I'm pretty happy with what's on the page. Now, I'm kind of frozen. I'm almost scared to write the ending because I feel like nothing is going to work. I tried a few things out in a separate document. Nothing came out good enough to cut and paste into the story. Do you guys get stuck like this? Damn. I'm so close to the end without having and ending.
     
  15. Rence

    Rence Member

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    Crisis of conscience

    Ill or dying relative.

    I'll keep thinking :)
     
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  16. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    If he's a schemer he's probably constantly got a few hundred things going on at once. Maybe he just got burnout sick. Went to bed one night and slept through a few things they weren't supposed to. Anyone who's worked their way through college probably knows what I'm talking about.

    ETA: maybe something really embarrassing happened and he does not want anyone to know about it so he just shows up again without a word. Like he picked up at the bar the night before, and woke up tied to the bed with his wallet, phone and clothes missing, had to sneak home through downtown traffic, took a wrong turn, ended up at a public school, and had to spend a couple of nights in jail before everything got sorted.
     
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  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    The problem is is that he's been missing for a few days leading up to this. That part works well with the story. He doesn't live alone and people in his lives are aware that he's gone. I thought he would reappear at the end with some reason or excuse. But I'm not sure now. If I can pull this story off want to give it a read, @Krispee? I won't tell you how it ends once I figure it out, but I would love to hear from you if whatever I do works or not.

    The last piece I had accepted for publication and worked on revision with the editor went through a million rewrites of the ending. My story was close to getting the axe if I couldn't pull off what they wanted. Maybe that's why I so hung up on how to end this one.

    I could probably make any of the suggestions here work on some level. I just want a clean ending. This is driving me crazy. I loved writing this story until I got to this point.

    Do endings give any of you trouble like this? I thought I was setting things up the right way throughout the story. Making this character vanish for a few days was unexpected, but seemed to add more tension and depth when it came to how others were reacting. Does he come back? Does he stay gone? A piece of writing advice I've learned to live by is always choose option C. If coming back is option A and staying gone is option B, what is option C?
     
  18. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    He's missing and not at home. I'm sure there's other things this character is chasing, but most of his plans have been short lived and fails. This is the one at the end that actually works. Now, it's still a scheme so it's not really any sort of true success for him, but being a little delusional I would think he would consider it successful and surely would want the money from it. I guess if he thinks he's got something bigger going on, but he was just really into this plan for a while.

    Um... Can I use your idea about him waking up tied to a bed with everything missing? I really like this. It's a different spin than what's expected. I want to try this if that's okay with you. Like I said I've written a few different endings that don't quite fit the story. But I think I can sort of twist your idea to work, maybe? But only if you're okay with me borrowing this. I usually don't get stuck. If this one works, I'll owe you one. :)
     
  19. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I stole most of it from Seinfeld, so....
     
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  20. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    Perhaps you could incorporate the missing time as a secret part of the ending to make it more surprising. Actually that's rubbish, I'm not sure what to suggest to be honest, I'm throwing words like pooh at the screen. :blech:
    And yes, I'd be happy to read.
     
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  21. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Technically speaking, all you really need to do to keep the reader happy is for one of the other characters to mention that the guy has disappeared ...and nobody knows where or why—with maybe a bit of speculation, based on what we know about the guy's personality. I think that's the easiest way to deal with the issue. It means you, the writer, haven't left the issue dangling or forgotten, but at the same time, the guy's disappearance can still remain a mystery.
     
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  22. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why not let him go and check out another 'prospect' to make money/make it 'big'/chasing the big win?

    You said he's a bit of a schemer and if such a guy thinks he's missing out on an opportunity—maybe a prospective business partner he's heard word-of-mouth about, who only wants to talk face to face about some opportunity or another—your character would surely not tell anyone.

    To me it'd not need any explanations when he gets back, only him batting away concerned questions, maybe a bit morosely. Already looking for the next lucky break.
     
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  23. Deceangli

    Deceangli New Member

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    Maybe the fix to this is earlier in the story - set a hook which catches him and takes him away for a few days. 'Explaining' stuff after the event can feel like a cop-out, esp in short story-world, where every comma counts
     
  24. Tralala

    Tralala Active Member

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    Maybe have him come back with a piece missing. Then, his reappearance would be mainly visual. No need for explanations. A missing finger? The kind of thing inflicted by minor gangsters...
     

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