1. jmh105

    jmh105 Member

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    What should be the final push for the family in my novel?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jmh105, Feb 4, 2019.

    Hello, guys. I want to write a (potentially melodramatic) novel centered around the impact a guy's suicide has on a family.

    As far as the plot goes, it focuses on three perspectives: a guy (19 years) and his two sisters (13 years). Before the book begins, the guy runs away from home with his best friend, stuff happens that puts strain on their friendship, and the guy decides to break off the friendship. However, before he could truly walk away from the friendship, he witnesses his best friend's suicide. That's what ends up bringing the guy back home, albeit a mess from the trauma.

    The main guy's trauma then ends up putting strain on all of his relationships, including with his partner and especially with his family. That's where his sisters come in. Their perspectives are valuable, I think, in understanding the impact of their strong big brother leaving them all and then coming back broken.

    Anyways, each perspective offers something that brings the family closer to the breaking point, where it all falls apart and the brother and his sisters have to learn to be strong through it all.
    • For example, the brother has this secret--having lead an extensive criminal lifestyle once he had left home with his friend--that makes his mother, father, and sisters question their faith in the man who had been the favorite child and a role-model for the younger sisters.
    • Sister #1's big secret is that she had been in a relationship with the very friend of her big brother's who had killed himself before the book begins. Here's a friendly reminder that the sister is currently 13 and 12 years old at the time of dating the big brother's friend, who had been 18 at the time. The friend had ended up breaking up with her, himself, because he felt horrendously guilty, but the sister doesn't understand why he broke up with her. The impact this bombshell of a secret has on the family is enormous: the parents are devastated, especially the mom, who has seen sexual abuse before in her family; Sister #2 is angry and tries to convince her that she had been sexually abused, to which Sister #1 still denies it; and finally, the brother's view of his best friend who died is severely challenged. He either has to set aside that martyr mentality he feels towards him, or reconcile the duality in his feelings towards his friend--or something. To be honest, even now I am not sure how the brother should handle it. It's a horrific thing to learn about the guy he loved and also felt responsible for when the guy went through his depression and eventual suicide. Plus, it was with his sister! Christ. (On a side note--let me know how you think I, as the writer, should deal with this, haha)
    Here's my question... What about Sister #2? She definitely is her own character who supports the plot. However, she does not support it as well as her sister or even her brother does. Sister #2 has desires, which include eavesdropping and snooping through her brother's journal so she could better understand how he feels so she could help him. But at the same time, she doesn't have that Big Secret that could push her family over the edge once and for all.

    What could that secret be? If you guys have any ideas or ways to inspire me in my quest to come up with this plot point, please do share! Here are some character traits of Sister #2 that could help in our brainstorming:
    • Usually calm and collected, but when impassioned or infuriated, she will say what's on her mind and do her best for the people she loves.
    • In a bad situation, Sister #2 is the one to take charge. She's a leader figure that gets the job done when she sets her mind to it.
    • Very curious and craves to know and better understand the world around her. More specifically, Sister #2 desires to empathize, or literally feel the pain her brother feels. As mentioned above, she does this by eavesdropping on all the parents' conversations and more and reading through her brother's journal. Of course, this also means Sister #2 lacks the concept of personal space and privacy.
    • Seriously looks up to her brother. For example, both of them wrestled in school and when the brother left, Sister #2 quit doing what she loved because she missed (and continues to miss) him.
    If you want any more info, I can gladly provide it. Thanks for reading and helping me out, and have a nice day!
     
  2. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Member

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    It looks like you have the makings of a great story. I think you should just start writing and see what happens to your characters.
     
  3. jmh105

    jmh105 Member

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    Thank you so much! However, I am more of a planner/plotter than a pantser, though I do see the value of both. I think I can begin pantsing if I can just get some idea of what Sister #2 could do...
     
  4. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

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    Does Sister #2 need a secret? Too much of these secrets flying around might bog the book down and start feeling contrived. Maybe she's just the 'bystander' of the family who's frantically trying to pick up the pieces after seeing it come apart like this.
     
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  5. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    The sisters are twins. #2 gets #1 to use her identical appearance to cover a brief disappearance that #2 explains to #1 is with her own adult aged suitor. #2 actually uses this 15 hour period to find #1's boyfriend through brother's phone. She convinces the boyfriend she is #1, and convinces him kill himself. Successful, she returns home, reports to #1 that her suitor rejected her as too young. and later acts surprised at brother's return and boyfriend's death.

    Or, she's embarrassed because she's a secret Trekkie.
     
  6. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    I think you may want to consider sister 2 as being in love with her brother. That would be her big secret. You've basically described exactly that for her character but all of that conflicts with her trying to convince sister 1 that she was sexually abused. So you'll have to decide between those two points of her character. Will she be the fresh perspective or just as messed up as the rest of them?

    Another thing is that I'm not sure if you've had experience with a sibling leaving in a bad situation before. But when your sibling does that and you've looked up to them like you're saying the girls do it's as if they've failed you, betrayed you. It is immensely upsetting and takes a long time to become comfortable with them being around again. Not to mention that they seemed to idolise their brother so his actions and life of crime will have shattered that perfect image they had of him.

    Sister 2 can act the same, if become a little psychologically abusive towards the brother by playing on his guilt of leaving, as she was before if you go the route of her being in love with her brother. That way she can show she cares but it's twisted. But if you don't, even if the brother has gone through something horrible, it's hard to empathise with someone who you consider to have betrayed you.

    12 and 13 year olds are selfish people. Not snobby selfish, but the selfishness that comes with being catered to all the time because you're a kid and that's what people do with kids. They keep them happy and do what they can for them and dote on them and so forth. They haven't yet reached the maturity of realising themselves as people because they're not fully autonomous yet. They are still essentially children. Be careful (not in a warning way) in crafting your girls, especially sister 2. As 13 year olds they are still innocent and dependant humans.

    Above all that though, I believe you can take this the extra mile if you have sister 2 be in love with her brother. But take into account the points in the first paragraph about her contradicting behaviour and consider paragraph 3 about her becoming manipulative towards her brother.
     

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