1. Teladan

    Teladan Senior Member

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    The Experience Machine / The Otherworld

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Teladan, Aug 22, 2020.

    Hello, all. I'm outlining a novella with a narrative broadly in the category of 'portal fantasy'. I'll be very brief with the context. An agoraphobic man, Alan, is given the chance to enter into a world of fantasy through a portal in his overgrown garden. His brother and his best friend follow him, entering by personal 'gates' of their own. I think I know the reason I've hesitated writing this story despite its being the most important theme of all for me. I don't know how to answer the crucial question of whether these three stay in the otherworld or not. At the end of the story they come to a place rather like a dead end because they have journeyed further back than memory or imagination itself. Or they may have free reign in a kind of blank slate. That part isn't important for now, but it sets them thinking. What should they do now?

    The realm overall is ephemeral and works on desires, fears and memories. For various reasons it is their desire and their ultimate dream to be here, but there is also hardship and woe. This is the difficult part. If it was a case of pure escapism, I'd follow Robert Nozick and have them decide to live in the real world (escaping somehow) because it is more authentic and real. Except Alan despised the real world as it stood and there is hardship and struggle in the fantasy world. My main character, at least, has the view that there is nobility in dying, if it came to it, by a monster or creature, a kind of embedded heroism. Besides that, I can't think of a single reason why he'd want to leave a world that is mostly beautiful, quiet and serene and is peopled with noble souls.

    This is extremely difficult for me, but I feel like maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew philosophically. I feel like I want them all to stay, but somehow, I can't justify it fully. It doesn't seem right for a story. Or maybe that's because I've read too many stories where the heroes come back? I feel their staying wouldn't bring about a change and yet I want them to stay. Difficult! Maybe there is an easier route to take?

    Edit: My solution at the minute, if I decide they leave, is that they make a collaborative wish to leave one by one. Stephen the friend wants to leave. Robert the brother says he would not want to experience the fantasy world for long without Stephen. Alan, at last, says it would not be the same without his brother.

    This may work for me. But I still have doubts.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
  2. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    Normally when someone can't figure out the "what next" of a story, then I have a question for them. What is the overarching theme? And what nuance to this theme do each character represent?
     
    Teladan likes this.
  3. Teladan

    Teladan Senior Member

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    Well, broadly the theme is the power of imagination and the ability of a shared story to bring people together. Secondary themes are things such as catharsis, ephemerality and memory. The characters have all moved apart in life and are distant from each other in various ways. Alan plans to commit suicide but is saved by entering the Gate. Robert is an artist who has lost his spark after the 'death' of his brother and has generally found that life has destroyed his creative output. Stephen's wife died and he, too, has a yearning for the old days, for both the return of his family and his friends. Within the story itself they face fantastical challenges unique to all three of them, e.g. Stephen as a knight saves a family from an invading force. I'm thinking that they decide to keep a part of the world within them and cooperatively desire to leave the realm. This would enable Alan finally to leave his house and meet his brother and his friend. Something would be kindled between them again. They would have a shared understanding that something does exist beyond the mundane world and that keeps them going.
     
  4. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    Well there you go.
    Of course, that's not the only way to approach it. You could also present it like a philosophical argument and each of the characters representing different points of views of the issue. So each character faces a vastly different conclusion to their story arcs, depending on what argument they represent. For example, if I had one character representing nihilism and one representing spirituality. The would have completely different conclusions to their story depending on what I feel is the stronger argument.

    This was seen in the film Mr. Holmes where it has two sides of the argument: the raw, unadulterated truth versus the little stories we tell ourselves sometimes.
     
    TheOneWhoTriesTooHard likes this.

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