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  1. Sieglinde

    Sieglinde Member

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    Why does he desert his general?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sieglinde, Jul 9, 2017.

    So. Story is a (very low) fantasy - pretty much just fictional countries and people, no magic or dragons.

    One of my leads is a past-his-prime general, who had quite the wild youth, and who is sent to negotiate with another country's young queen. His own king secretly hopes that, not being a diplomat, he'd fuck up spectacularly and get killed, thus giving a good casus belli (they want the queen's country). Our general has a very close friend/confidant who has been by his side for decades, and who accompanies him on his mission.

    Things go rather unexpected - not only does the general not fuck up, him and the queen end up falling in love and he stays. The war eventually happens anyway, but now they stand against the asshole king. The war goes in their favour for a while but eventually things take a bad turn.

    At some point, though, I want the friend to desert his general and go to the enemy (who receive him in a rather civil manner). But why would he do this? He regrets it pretty soon, especially when his former general loses the war. He'd need a damn good reason to desert in the first place, since he loves the general deeply - so much that he can't handle the guilt. He's definitely a positive character, so it's hard to find him a reason to leave.
     
  2. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I think the reason has to be a personal one specific to a betrayal (real or perceived)of the character by either the general or the queen. Perhaps some disastrous event in the general's youth that the general was responsible for, but the friend never found out; e.g., getting all of his squad killed, or the massacre of a village or something like that. Maybe you can think of a more appropriate example. But the events that he believes were never the true events and the general has hid that truth away from him, and somehow it gets out.

    Another could be a personal disapproval of his extracurricular relationship with the queen. OK, they're there to do a job and he is willing to put his personal enmity aside, but once he finds out the general is involved with the queen, he believes that she will end up harming him. He tries to persuade/force the general to sever the relationship, but they love each other too much, and it continues. The friend feels he has no choice but to turn on the general.

    Note that in both of these examples, there is still example for the friend to turn back to the side of the general - if the friend forgives the general for example.
     
  3. Sieglinde

    Sieglinde Member

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    Well, he certainly isn't a fan of the queen - he's in love with the general himself. But would it be enough to make him leave?
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe he comes up with some sort of "for his own good" reason? He makes a deal with the King that the general will keep his rank, etc., etc., if he can just get him back in line?

    I realize that's problematic with everybody already at war; could you move the betrayal and regret earlier?
     
  5. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    I'd definitely look for a way to make him think he's doing the right thing. Maybe he thinks that if he defects the war will be over quickly and with less bloodshed, maybe a spy from the king lies to him and convinces him that the general will be forgiven if he hands over certain information - or he takes it into his own hands to try to convince the king that the general has been manipulated and is innocent?
     
  6. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    At first read, I thought about:

    Joshua Speed married Fanny Hennings on February 15, 1842. He and Lincoln seem to have consulted each other about married life. Despite having some political differences over slavery[36] they corresponded for the rest of their lives, and Lincoln appointed Joshua's brother, James Speed, to his cabinet as Attorney General.

    Maybe it wasn't an approved relationship, and he took the path of least resistance.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Does he have to really leave the general? Could he be a double agent pretending to leave him?
     
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  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe I'm missing something, but why not simple patriotism? His loyalty to his homeland outweighs his loyalty to the general, if only barely.
     
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  9. UltimateZero

    UltimateZero New Member

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    I think that understanding what little I do of the character, he would have to to desert due to personal reasons due to fear of failure or death if he stayed. Unless you tie in a deeper reason. I'd go with human nature though - fear.
     
  10. Sieglinde

    Sieglinde Member

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    Can't be too early - this sets in motion a dramatic high point. Shortly after he deserts, the general loses a critical battle. They both die because men in this story tend to overreact things (it may be a novel but I certainly took more inspiration from stage). I sort of want to make their deaths parallel scenes. It's not the very end but roughly 3/4 point in the story.
     
  11. TheNineMagi

    TheNineMagi take a moment to vote

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    reminds of Anthony and Cleopatra, as the fleet goes down in the bay, and the futility of standing against the empire becomes apparent.

    sacrificial moves, to save the general perhaps diplomacy and a shot at a truce, to give his friend some dignity out of the loss, a smaller territory, or a figurehead position. Whispers in back room deals of who will rule over this territory, what of the perpetual resistance from those who love and remain loyal to the queen. Do we give these rebels territory, or allow the queen to keep ruling in good faith, as long as she pays tribute...
     
  12. Darkcula

    Darkcula Member

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    One such reason could be that he is bound by a sacred oath- to serve the nation. He can betray his friend but not his country and upon realization of this ancestral pledge, he turns his back on his friend.
     
  13. Sieglinde

    Sieglinde Member

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    Tha
    That's one of my inspirations (particularly, Enobarbus), but characters can easily make rash decisions on stage that doesn't necessarily work in a book without good reasons.
     
  14. TheNineMagi

    TheNineMagi take a moment to vote

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    true, part of a characters make up is the intrigue of motivation and expectation, not quite aligning to a reality around them, like a foreshadowing of pending failures to either be avoided or experienced. Something as simple as a heated argument, can drive the closest of friends to make irrational decisions, sometimes with a hope a friend wakes up from a delusional mindset or comes to terms with the reality around them. In a way it is a flash decision, a friend may look back on the moment with some regret, and a underlying sense of an open wound needing closure.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017

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