1. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Need a "second opinion"

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Safety Turtle, Nov 29, 2016.

    So I've had a bit of a hiatus from the dark fantasy novel I'm working on as I've hit a bit of a wall.
    It's not so much that I've run out of ideas, but that I'm not sure which idea to pursue.

    The general story is about a post apocalyptic dark fantasy world where we follow a “lone wanderer” who just happens to be somewhat immortal (as in: when he dies he comes back to life but loses some of his humanity every time he does so) who works as a sellsword.

    So far the story starts with him riding down the road, having gotten a job to find a missing family.
    The background of the setting is revealed through him thinking back to what's happened before, how his wife and daughter died etc.
    At this point he doesn't know he's immortal (need to think of a better term) and that he's already died once.
    I'm not too sure of this approach as the way the lore and setting is revealed seems kinda forced.

    The other idea I have is the starting the story with him waking up by the side of the road, having been the victim of an attack on his way home (he was in the army and was released).
    What he doesn't know is that he died and have been dead for over half a year, laying there rotting (the idea being that the first time he resurrect take a lot longer) and so have no idea what's happened to the world, his wife etc.

    The rest of the story would basically being him trying to get home to his wife and daughter and discovering his immortality meanwhile learning about all the horrible stuff that's been going out while he was “gone”.
    Also, his memory would probably be rather fussy as it's another thing that suffers when he keeps coming back to life (something's gotta give).

    Don't know if this one is a bit too cliché, but it does make the plot (or at least a big part of it) rather obvious: get home to his family.

    Just wanted a “second opinion” from the good people here on what approach you think would be the most interesting, from a readers perspective.

    Cheers!
     
  2. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributor Contributor

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    I think it is an interesting plot. Main goal is to make it home. What are some of the challenges he faces on the way?
     
  3. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    I like the second idea better. The first one isn't bad, but I like the more internalized potential of the second option. Lends more to allowing the reader to learn of past events WITH the MC, apposed to relying on flashbacks or recollections- these can seem very forced and convenient after a while. Also, you might consider the goal of getting home to his family as a midway goal, building toward a greater character arch of how he deals, recovers, moves on with his newfound resiliency.
     
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  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Every time I have ever asked myself "Do I write X or Y," the answer has always turned out to be "Both"

    Maybe he wakes up after his first resurrection, wants to find his own family, but knows so little about the new world that when he gets picked up by a band of sellswords looking for another family, he has to go with them and help with their mission as a way to earn his keep until he can find his bearings and get started on his own mission?

    And maybe finding the second family at the end can be when he finds out that his own family didn't make it?
     
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  5. Viridian

    Viridian Member Supporter

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    Personally I liked the first one better. The second echo's season one of The Walking Dead to me - guy wakes up after some time in a coma, worlds gone to shit, tries to find family. It's a good idea, but you would have to do something new with it. I like the way you're using the immortality thing, i.e. dies but comes back to life over and over, but I'm not sure it's enough of a step away from TWD.

    However, idea no.1 appeals to me, with a little of no.2 thrown in (in that his family are, or may be, still alive). The first thing that sprung to my mind when I read idea no.1 was a kind of Jack Reacher type character. Lone tough guy, wandering from town to town, helping folk out along the way - BUT - he's different in that he dies and comes back to life and has an ultimate goal - to find his family - and, perhaps, find out how or why he is immortal. What I would be really interested to know is, if he loses a little of his humanity each time he dies, what is he gaining? Becoming demonlike, hard hearted, does he become weaker, is he changing physically? Can he die an infinite number of times OR is there a limit before he becomes something else.

    Just my thoughts. I think your ideas have great potential :)
     
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  6. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Never watched twd or jack reacher, so have no idea of what theyre like ^^

    Well idea Nr two would slowly turn into the first idea.

    And he's not really gaining anything, other than the ability to not die...or curse, depending on how you look at the ^^
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say definitely number two. That's really the start of your story, isn't it? The inciting incident. It won't require backtracking to 'explain.' We'll grow into knowledge along with your character. And it has the extra advantage of being an interesting opener as well. Just make sure you include, or at least hint at, your overall story problem when you begin with this one. Is the story goal for him to find his family, etc? To understand his position? To use his position to fight for the welfare of others? The start of your story gives the reader a strong push in the right direction. This sounds promising.

    Number one is a cliché. Starting with some kind of unfocused journey is usually a mistake, unless the journey itself provides the inciting incident for the story. A journey where the traveler only ruminates upon the journey itself and the past events leading up to it is also deep in infodump territory. Of course if you can make him into a tremendously interesting character right at the start—one whom the reader strongly identifies with—then you can pull it off. But going by what you've told us, I'd recommend starting the story with number two.
     
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  8. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Yeah I'm starting to lean more and more to the second option.

    Also contemplating whether or not to turn it into a sort of revenge story when he founds out his family is dead and then hunt down those responsible.
    The whole thing is generally a big grey area, it's not really a black/white, good/evil type setting, but more of "everyone is an asshole, some are just lesser assholes"-type setting. (I've been playing way too much Warhammer 40k).
    The overall theme is sort of a reversed redemption story as he starts of being a relatively nice person, but turns less and less humane and ultimately human as he keeps dying...sort of like Arthas from Warcraft.
     
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  9. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    This reminds me some of Book of Eli. Maybe not so much the MC, but that is how I am picturing your world.
     
  10. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Well, not really close honestly...it's a lot more Lovecraftian if anything ^^

    Did see the Book of Eli movie though, rather interesting.
     
  11. Historical Science

    Historical Science Contributor Contributor

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    My mind's shifting to Memento. Maybe when he dies, he forgets everything and relies on tattoos, a book, papers, something to remind him of his journey. Maybe he's been trying to find his family for hundreds of years and has no idea they're long gone by now and he gets more and more "lost" every time he dies, changes psychologically, etc
     
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  12. Alchemist

    Alchemist New Member

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    I like the second approach. Also, the whole "immortality" motif can be either extremely cliche or make for a great hook. It all depends on how the concept is introduced and executed. For example:

    Your first chapter/prologue could be your character trying to run away from danger (maybe the same attackers that left him at the side of the road). Get very in "scene," having us feel the stress and fear of every "close call" with the attackers. Maybe throw in images of his goal: his family awaiting him at home. Give the reader hope that he might escape and live to see another day. Then just before he can get away, an attacker catches him by surprise and kills him. Killing the main character at the beginning of the story is a great hook by itself. So the attackers loot his body and leave it at the side of the road. Then the final image is his corpse waking up. Now you have the premise of your story along with a hook for your reader

    Again, it's just an example but you see the point. The difference between "cliche" and "interesting" is often context.
     
  13. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Well with the whole "wake up after death"-thing, I want to keep it unknown to the reader throughout the story, with them only finding out when the character does.
     
  14. Alchemist

    Alchemist New Member

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    In that case you want to spread little hints of it throughout the story so that the final reveal doesn't feel cheap. Maybe he encounters people throughout who recognize him from his previous life but he doesn't recognize them? Maybe he dies a few times in the story but it's in such a way where you can believe he just "got lucky" (i.e.: poison with chance of survival). Basically you are going for subtly. The immortality motif needs to feel both surprising and built up to.
     
  15. mikasa

    mikasa Member

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    If he is to die numerous times on his journey only to find his goal is unattainable, then the loss of humanity would work to his advantage in a bloody revenge plot afterwards. A struggle to remember and retain his humanity/connections to his family because it gives his life/vengeance purpose vs letting go of it to flee the anguish of loss that was completely out of his control.
     
  16. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Just wanted to give an update.

    I've gone with the second option and rewriting the story from the beginning (though I'm saving what I've written previously and gonna implement it later on) and have already written the first few opening lines, which I personally think already set a slightly better mood for the story than the old one.
    Got a few plot holes already that I'm trying to figure out how to plug though.

    Thanks a lot for all of your feedback everyone ^^
     
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  17. Shimario

    Shimario Member

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    Honestly, i like the second idea more. Adds a bit more mystery.
     

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