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View Full Version : How can you put your own life significantly at risk?



The_Ink_Goddess
07-22-2009, 03:43 PM
My WiP is currently a YA novel called "The Other Side" - it's a non-fantasy YA coming-of-age about a boy who goes through a weekend of near-death experiences in order to determine what is *exactly* on the other side. Question is, how can he do this? I don't him to actually kill himself (that's why we're not getting into the hanging side of things...), but I do want to put his life at risk, or put him in a "near-death situation." So far I have:

1. Stepping out in front of a car.

2. Trying to drown himself in his best friend's swimming pool.

3. Climbing onto scaffolding that has been "charged" with a loose electric wire.

4. Jumping off a roof.

Yes, I know it's weird. I know it's creepy. But can anybody help me out?

Maryn
07-22-2009, 04:39 PM
Chugging a Drano cocktail. Eating mushrooms he sees in a neighbor's yard. Sticking a fork into an electrical outlet. Taunting a bully or the neighbor's vicious dog. Getting into an enclosure with a bull or tiger. Hiking into a wilderness area without water or supplies.

Think of everything we seek to protect our kids from when they're so young that can't see danger lurking everywhere. He can deliberately choose to do those things.

Maryn, thinking weird and creepy is fun

The_Ink_Goddess
07-22-2009, 04:47 PM
Maryn, you are a genius :) Your post has just opened up *so* many different possibilities...:D

Deem
07-22-2009, 04:50 PM
Daredevil riding on a motorcycle without a helmet?

RJK
07-22-2009, 05:22 PM
Apparently your protagonist isn't considering the possibility of spending the rest of his life, assuming he survives these adventures, as a quadriplegic, or brain dead vegetable.

WriteKnight
07-22-2009, 06:41 PM
Unprotected sex with a person known to be HIV positive.

Seriously.

That or simply playing Russian Roulette.


Risk taking and pushing the envelope is what being a teenager is all about. They KNOW what they're doing is dangerous and could lead to death - but they don't really understand their mortality - untill they get close enough. It's funny - I've seen a couple of guys I know - meet that moment. One was doing a stunt in a show, a high fall. He had done it dozens of times - and was very comfortable doing it. Maybe too comfortable. Well he went out the window, and his feet got hung on the edge - he didn't make the full rotation towards the pad, came in at a strange angle and clipped his head on the edge of the crash vehicle.

I was the one who took him to the ER. Turns out he was fine, a few stitches and he was 'good as new' - physically.

But it was a whole new ball game after that. He came to understand that :

He. Could. Die. OR. WORSE.

I've seen it when the young bucks I teach to joust are all piss and vinegar and flying off the horse in front of the young adoring fans - until a bad fall. OR a couple of really bad falls - and it's no longer 'fun and games' - it's deadly serious business. I call it their 'Come to Jesus Growup Moment'.

scarletpeaches
07-22-2009, 06:42 PM
Publicly call MacCannister "Buster".

errantruth
07-22-2009, 07:11 PM
:) :) :) amusing, SP

I particularly like the electrical surge options. People think they can survive these. Same with hallucinogens. Maybe also going up to the top of a mountain during a storm or something.

The_Ink_Goddess
07-22-2009, 07:13 PM
Wow, WriteKnight: that was exactly what I started my WiP with in mind: the idea that teenagers can't really comprehend their own mortality until they get close enough. To answer your question, RJK, he doesn't really consider all of this; I think WK pretty much just proved your point.

But on a serious note (because I am a delicate flower with an even more delicate ego): *is* my premise too much of a stretch? Are agents just likely to look it and think, "Pfft, yeah, right."?

Rarri
07-22-2009, 07:16 PM
Don't know if this is what you're looking for, but an overdose (of any number of things) can have that whole near-death experience thing (not that i'd recommend it, but y'know...). Tombstoning could be another one. I get the feeling this isn't the route you want to take, but solvents come to mind too.

Rarri
07-22-2009, 07:19 PM
Wow, WriteKnight: that was exactly what I started my WiP with in mind: the idea that teenagers can't really comprehend their own mortality until they get close enough. To answer your question, RJK, he doesn't really consider all of this; I think WK pretty much just proved your point.

But on a serious note (because I am a delicate flower with an even more delicate ego): *is* my premise too much of a stretch? Are agents just likely to look it and think, "Pfft, yeah, right."?

Didn't see this post when i posted!

I don't think it's just teenagers, but adults too, who may not comprehend their own mortality until they've had a close call. That said, i was a teenager when i the notion of mortality er, sunk in. I don't think your premise is too much of a stretch, as with so many things, it'll be the execution of your idea that matters. Sounds like a very interesting concept though :)

Parametric
07-22-2009, 07:19 PM
Ink, something to think about when choosing near-death situations is the danger to other people. For example, stepping out in front of a car could cause the driver to crash and hurt himself, or hit a pedestrian in an attempt to swerve, or crash head-on into another car, hurting other drivers. Similarly, jumping off a roof could be dangerous to other people. Your premise is interesting, but becomes a whole new kettle of fish if your protagonist is willing to endanger other people to satisfy his curiosity.

Just a thought. :)

The_Ink_Goddess
07-22-2009, 07:29 PM
Thanks guys :) My God, I just know I'm going to love it here :D

Actually, Parametric, that's been something I've played around with for a long time. I'm definitely going to include the nature of him willing to put others in danger for the sake of curiosity...just have to figure out what!

WriteKnight
07-22-2009, 08:09 PM
The age of the 'Come to Jesus Growup Moment' can vary of course. I say teens - but I've seen it happen to 20 - 22 year olds. And of course one of the reasons that young gymnasts are so fantastic - is that they really are oblivious to what they might lose - and are therefore absolutely fearless.

Case in point. I was hiking along a beach with my 16 year old son some years ago. He wanted to climb on some rocks - nothing too high, maybe fifteen or twenty feet to the top. Up he scampered, and I was going up after him. Fairly steep face, having to do a bit of finger and toe-hold work going up.

Well, I'm maybe fifteen feet up, probably five feet from the top, and I glance down. I realize, that if I slip - I'll probably slide down the face - tearing a kneecap loose, perhaps doing some serious damage to my legs and my already trashed ankle from a previous joust injury. The fall wouldn't kill me. Might not even break a bone. BUT all of a sudden - I can see the quality of my 'old age' being GREATLY diminished by the inabilty of my middle-aged bones to knit and my middle-aged tendons being less flexible. Yeah - I got REALLY SCARED - not of the possible pain or injury - but for HOW IT WOULD INFLUENCE MY LIFE.

That's the big difference between how a teenager (kid) and an 'adult' thinks about life. A teen-ager is always 'in the moment'. (Not necessarily a bad thing) While an adult is often 'living in the future'. (Not necessarily a GOOD thing.)

redpbass
07-22-2009, 08:09 PM
If he has access to a car, that opens up all sorts of possibilities. Running over mailboxes, driving through fences, trying to pull Dukes of Hazzard-style jumps.

Go karts, 4 wheelers, that sort of thing, he could do stupid jumps or play chicken with cars, or even turn too fast and go up on two wheels.

Ride a bicycle off the side of a house or try to jump one between buildings.

Jump off a house onto a mattress.

Gun twirling.

Run through the bad part of town waving money.

Have a swordfight with a friend, using cheap $10 machetes from the local Wal Mart.

Try to juggle hatchets.

Fill plastic bags with gasoline and light them.

Honestly, there are so many ways to ALMOST kill yourself that it's ridiculous.

Parametric
07-22-2009, 08:13 PM
Actually, Parametric, that's been something I've played around with for a long time. I'm definitely going to include the nature of him willing to put others in danger for the sake of curiosity...just have to figure out what!

That's going to be a hard sell, I think, so I look forward to seeing what you do with it. :tongue

Kurtz
07-23-2009, 01:29 AM
Philly. Megaphone. Scream. "NIGGERS! NIGGERS! NIGGERS!"

Mike Martyn
07-23-2009, 01:49 AM
Is he ingenious? If so, then how about runnung a car in a closed garage with a fan and the garage door openr on a timer so after x number of minutes, the timer kicks in, the garage door opens and the fans starts blowing away the fumes.

In terms of "Come to Jesus Moments" for me it wasn't any of the dumb stuff which I did as a kid. It was a simple walk through an old cemetary when I was in my late teens. Checking out the inscription on a weathered tombstone on an old sunken grave I read the following;

"As I once was, so are you now,
As I am now, so shall you be"

Thinking about what lay 6 feet under my feet and having far too much imagination to be healthy, well...

Kenzie
07-23-2009, 10:11 AM
When you say things like 'step in front of a car' and 'jump out of a window' - does he actually get hit by the car, or hit the ground? Or are they a series of near-misses? Just because if he does these things and doesn't get hurt, that's going to be a bit of a stretch in believability. Of course, there are a lot of other reality checks to consider if you want to make this somewhat believable - one being that if he does things that make it seem like he wants to kill himself, whether that is his intention or not - sooner or later people will notice and have him in psychiatric care.

bettielee
07-23-2009, 10:14 AM
Publicly call MacCannister "Buster".

I remember that.

DavidZahir
07-23-2009, 06:17 PM
Play with a deadly snake (like a coral snake or black momba).

Stand on a bare hill during a lightning storm.

Try to make home-made nerve gas (this has all kinds of potential for scenes).

Sneak into a building due to be demolished.

Setting oneself on fire.

Injecting an air bubble into a major artery (trickier than it sounds, especially if you're at all squeamish).

Starvation (this requires much more self control than almost anyone has, but you can try).

StephanieFox
07-24-2009, 06:26 AM
He can jump off a bridge into a river. I knew someone who tried to kill himself jumping off a bridge into the Potomic in the middle of D.C. and survived (w/o a scratch.)