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  1. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    Punishment for MC in important position?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BlitzGirl, Jul 10, 2018.

    Hopefully this is in the right place (the other sub-forums didn't seem appropriate), but I am continuously finding myself facing a dilemma in my current story. The main character is in a position of great importance in society. She is the only human alive who can communicate with this society's god, and there is only ever one at a time (another will be born with that gift after she dies, somewhat akin to reincarnation). However, she has gotten herself into trouble a few times, and even did something that normally would get a priestess in this society excommunicated. But, because of her title, she cannot be expelled from the temple. Without her, there would be no intermediary between the people and their god. Her title even allows her to act as spiritual inspiration for everyday people. I've already had an instance where the MC was punished by being confined to the temple grounds for a few weeks, unable to go into the city streets. Another time, she was going to be slated to do some manual duties around the temple, until a series of events happened that made that not happen. Corporal punishment isn't practiced with priestesses, and any punishment is decided by the headmistress of the temple.

    I guess I am worrying that I am making the MC get off easy. While many of the things she does (willingly or unwillingly) that has gotten her into trouble resulted in bad stuff happening to her (she runs away at one point but then is kidnapped and imprisoned, as an example), I feel a bit lame making those unintended consequences be an excuse for the headmistress not punishing her. Either that, or something the MC went through resulted in her learning important information, and the headmistress ends up finding that information very useful to know, so she has to admit that some good came out of a bad situation.

    Now my question for you: What would you do if this type of situation happened in one of your stories? How would you handle it? Curfews and increased manual duties are about the only logical punishments I can think of at this time, but it doesn't seem very creative. Again, the biggest issue is that the MC can't be stripped of her important title or be kicked out of the temple, but she makes mistakes and breaks rules because I need to show she is still human (and a teenager), capable of fallibility despite her title.
     
  2. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    It all depends on the severity of the actions she's taken. It's hard to know if you're doling out enough punishment for the character when we don't really know what her "crimes" are. Is it something akin to a rebellious teenager? Is she breaking the temple's strictest laws? Did she light a bag of her own poop on fire and place it on the headmistress' porch? These are the things we need to know!
     
  3. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    I think the punishments you have are good. However, the fact that she hasn't been kicked out for something everyone else would get kicked out for will make her some enemies at the temple. They won't like the fact that she's getting special treatment. If you demonstrated this, it definitely wouldn't feel like she was getting off too lightly at all. It would be another type of punishment for her, in a way.
     
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  4. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    I agree with @Seren. Just make some people that were somewhat of her friend quit hanging around her because she's "the headmistresses's pet." Being lonely, along with what you have already, will be a good punishment.
     
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  5. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    That is a very good point. I am currently working on my first draft, so I am kind of just getting all of the main things written down and filling the spaces between scenes with whatever comes to mind, so there hasn't been much of an opportunity to really contemplate all possibilities (that's what the second draft will be for, since my 1st draft is hand-written so my brain acts on more of a "stream of consciousness" method than when I type, where it goes into "editing mode"). I will definitely see if I can implement this type of scenario when I get to the second draft! I should mention that, so far, the things that the MC has done has reached the ears of other priestesses, and she has caught several women speaking ill of her behind her back.

    To answer your question, @Zerotonin , and tied to what I'm about to write in response to @Seren 's post, one of the "bad" things the MC did was have a romantic relationship with one of her friends, another priestess, and priestesses are forbidden from doing such things (they have to focus on their duties, so on and so forth). When they were discovered, her friend was excommunicated but the MC was not. Turns out, another priestess who was not fan of the MC had found out and spread rumors around, so the MC soon hears other women in the temple talking about her like she is a whore, and not worthy of her important title. Of course, the MC has always doubted her ability to live up to her title, but she can't really escape it. Then she encounters the woman who had spread the rumors, they have an altercation...and the MC injures her in self-defense, which leads to death. So now people will see her as a killer. So, that's definitely a form of punishment when you think about how it will affect the MC's mental state. Only, the death was an accident, and it will prompt the MC to receive training in order to control her powers so that nothing like that happens again. Once those powers surface, you can't exactly "put the genie back in the bottle", so to speak.
     
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  6. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    Sadly, at the moment she only has one friend left at the temple (one didn't pass the initiation ceremony, so she got sent to another temple instead), and another was the one who was excommunicated. I don't think that her current friend would change her opinion of the MC over all of this, but the other members of the temple certainly already have started to. I do like this general idea, though, and I'm happy for the suggestions!
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    How ruthless are these people? Even without corporal punishment, there's plenty of unpleasant things they could do. Solitary confinement, depriving her of food, sending away her pet (if she never had a pet, you could write one in), destroying her books or some other beloved possession, taking away all of her possessions and leaving her with an empty room, silent treatment/shunning by everyone at the temple for a period of time, forcing her to wear some garment that advertises to everyone that she's doing penance.

    Also, how obedient is she? Would she have done those manual duties--and why did you get her out of it? Wouldn't that punishment still be pending? I'm imagining, "Thank you for saving the world. Now go peel those potatoes."
     
  8. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    Haha, I'm grateful for the questions! Long story short, it is seen as an honor for a girl/woman to serve as a priestess, therefore the worst possible punishment would be excommunication and being sent back to their family (and when that happens, the family stops receiving financial donations from the temple). Priestesses are in essence a protected class in society. Your suggestions are all thought-provoking, even if I believe I would personally steer clear of a few of them due to the in-universe laws and manners I've created.

    The MC is very obedient and law-abiding for the most part, so even if some punishment would be difficult for her to accept she would still do it and feel guilty about allowing it to happen.
     
  9. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    This is a bit morbid, but is there a reason why they wouldn't put her to death and then just find the next person in the line and train them? I know it's a bit extreme, but if she did accidentally murder someone and their legal system is less sophisticated than our own, they may consider it.
     
  10. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    Killing a priestess is forbidden in their society, and the religious leaders would never want to willingly harm their own.

    Your idea, however, is making me wonder what those who oppose the religion would do with such information... If they got their hands on the MC and knew who/what she was, would they want to keep her alive to help sway the population? Or would they prefer to just kill her so that it would be some decades before the next one is revealed, therefore giving them more time to implement their plans? I'm now being reminded of certain scenes in "Avatar: The Last Airbender", where some characters want to kill Aang, but others restrain themselves because they know that his death would just result in another Avatar being born into the next nation of the cycle, which would just make their plans more complicated.
     
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  11. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    I'm liking the sound of the way the others are going to treat her. As for the friend you've mentioned, I reckon you should keep her on the MC's side. It's good to make most people hate her, but I think she does need at least one person who still likes her. (Although it doesn't mean that they can't have minor disagreements over what's happened, should you feel so inclined.) :)
     
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  12. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Contributor Contributor

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    Ok, I have been super-appreciative of the responses here, and they've definitely got me thinking! So I know I will, in future chapters, have some scenes where other priestesses are shunning or insulting the MC for the things she's done. I also came up with a decent punishment, linked to the things that have happened recently. The MC needs to train with the Phoenix (this society's god) to get her power of fire under control (that's how she accidentally killed another priestess), but the headmistress has decided that the MC won't be able to return to the temple until she's been trained. That way, she won't be a liability, will be in a sort of exile for a while, and will have to work very hard to be redeemed. It's not going to be easy for the MC, as she's also afraid of fire since she was a child, and so she'll have to overcome that in order to be successful.

    Again, thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! While I write my handwritten draft, I tend to get tunnel-vision and forget to think about other possibilities, but...hey, that's what these forums are here for! :D
     
    Seren likes this.

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