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Ivonia
10-04-2005, 08:08 AM
Yeah, I know, it's only an idea, and it'll probably get used like crazy after I mention it, but anyway, I had an idea to help make the hero more interesting (I have a lot of other things like this scattered throughout my book). I was wondering if it's been done already (probably, but hear me out first hehe).

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Prior to a big battle, the hero has a dream in which a mysterious robed figure tells him that a child's life will be in danger, and it will be up to him whether the child lives or dies. He's had dreams like this before, from the same robed figure, who has given him similiar vague puzzles and messages. But he wonders why one child is going to make that big of a difference in the war at this point.

The hero is a fighter pilot, and subsequently gets shot down in that battle. But he survives the crash, and now has to make it back to a friendly base (which currently is fending itself from the enemy). Only problem right now is that he's lost. To make matters worse, his training was rushed, and consequently he doesn't know or remember all of the skills needed to make his way back to friendly forces (because of the battle going on, and he's understandably confused and somewhat scared).

On his way back, he gets lost, and runs into an enemy soldier, who has a tamed creature (which are wild on the hero's homeworld). The tamer has the creature attack the hero, but he easily dispatches it. He's then knocks down the tamer, but upon closer examination before killing the tamer, he sees that it's merely a child. He backs up, remembering what he heard in his dream.

Soon, one of the child's "supervisors" (in this story, children make great tamers because they have a special bond with creatures, and the enemy is obviously exploiting it. They also lose this ability as they grow older, which is why he's so young and in combat already) sees this failure, and screams at the child, saying he's going to take him back to camp and kill him off as an example of what they do to "failures".

The hero now has a tough choice. Does he flee, letting this child die, or does he protect him by killing off the superior (this is what the mysterious robed figure told him by the way, kind of a nice twist, isn't it hehe)? The superior isn't really interested in killing the hero, as he's more concerned with the boy's failure, having watched how easily the hero, a mere pilot, defeated the boy and his creature. But will the hero save the boy, even though he's the enemy?

Neither choice seems good, since if he protects the boy, the boy will live to fight another day (with another creature). If he lets the boy die, he will feel badly for letting it happen (the hero wants to protect those who can't protect themselves, although prior to this event, he thought it meant only the good guys).

The hero does ultimately save the boy, and then another "supervisor" is soon heard approaching. The boy warns the hero that this particular "supervisor" is very tough, and that the hero will not stand a chance against her (yes, her). The boy tells the hero where his base is, so that he can at least try to get away, and then makes up a lie to save both himself and the hero (he ends up saying that the hero killed the supervisor and his pet, and then fled in terror before he could finish off the boy when he realized that "she" was approaching, which of course, she buys and doesn't punish him, having not witnessed what happened earlier).

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To be honest, this is just one small event in my novel. I decided to add this scene in, because first of all, in the current draft, the hero has no real major issues to deal with, and is never in any real danger (hence why he gets shot down. And in an earlier draft, he just gets shot down, but still manages to make his way back to base, where he's forced to make yet another tough decision, stay and fight, or flee and let many of the good guys die).

I also thought this would be an interesting twist, because can the hero see past the hatred for the enemy to protect the child? I'm writing this because I'm tired of always seeing the enemy as "the enemy", and heroes having no second thoughts about laying waste to them (not the creatures so much, as they're not much more than wild animals for the most part, but the bad guys controlling them).

Do you think this would flesh out the hero more? By having to defend an enemy soldier, even though he's got an intense hatred for them (they're responsible for killing the hero's sister, and they've killed many good guys prior to this event, so the hero up to this point had no problems killing the bad guys). And the boy will also have something to think about as well because of this (they've both been led to believe the enemy is evil, and must be destroyed at all costs).

I'm debating whether the hero should tell anyone about this either, because what he did would obviously not go well with his superiors (and even if he told his friends, one of them may think he's close to being a traitor, not only for letting an enemy go, but protecting him), so now he's got another issue to deal with (this "minor" event will add to the main plot in the long run). And while the mysterious robed figure seems to give strange advice at times, he's never lied to the hero either, giving him advice he'll need to learn to understand the bigger picture in the long run (yes, the hero did physically meet the figure at one point, and even there, he told the hero about the tough choices he'd have to make).

I'm thinking it's better that he doesn't tell anyone though, because this will then become an internal struggle, one which he must cope with, and think about what's really right and wrong in this war.

What do you think? Have you seen something similiar in another book (I'll be honest, I haven't read too many stories, so I could very well have "copied" this from another author without realizing it) before? Or did I somehow manage to come up with an interesting, relatively original concept?

Rabe
10-04-2005, 10:15 AM
Yeah, I know, it's only an idea, and it'll probably get used like crazy after I mention it, but anyway, I had an idea to help make the hero more interesting (I have a lot of other things like this scattered throughout my book). I was wondering if it's been done already (probably, but hear me out first hehe).

I also thought this would be an interesting twist, because can the hero see past the hatred for the enemy to protect the child? I'm writing this because I'm tired of always seeing the enemy as "the enemy", and heroes having no second thoughts about laying waste to them (not the creatures so much, as they're not much more than wild animals for the most part, but the bad guys controlling them).


For some of the answers to your questions above, see the Dennis Quiad/Louis Gossett Jr. movie "Enemy Mine". For a non-genre version of this, see the subplot in Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan".

As for the 'twist' of a hero saving the live of an 'enemy' because it's a child/female/reminds him of someone else - see the 'cliches' thread on this board.

Not, mind you, that I'm saying what you are proposing is cliched, trite or anything else (without reading it, I can only make generalizations), but the concept is pretty much a standard within adventure stories.

As for the more specific questions you've asked about your story. I offer only this:

"what does your heart tell you". Just be sure it's not telling you to rip out mine and feast upon it!

Rabe...

DaveKuzminski
10-04-2005, 04:24 PM
My first problem with your scenario was the idea that a fighter pilot's training would be rushed until I recalled how some countries in WWII started running out of pilots and soldiers so they did exactly that. However, that would indicate to me that your pilot's side is losing because that kind of hurried training generally happens only in countries that are losing, so you might want to deal with that since you may have a conflict between who's winning and training conditions.

zornhau
10-04-2005, 05:50 PM
Lose the mysterious figure. Deus ex machina sucks.

Ivonia
10-04-2005, 11:16 PM
My first problem with your scenario was the idea that a fighter pilot's training would be rushed until I recalled how some countries in WWII started running out of pilots and soldiers so they did exactly that. However, that would indicate to me that your pilot's side is losing because that kind of hurried training generally happens only in countries that are losing, so you might want to deal with that since you may have a conflict between who's winning and training conditions.

Well, by this point in the story, the good guys are losing. And while the war will no doubt be a major plot device, there's actually another purpose for it (although I don't want to give it away just yet, cause then I'll be less inclined to write it hehe).

The bad guys in my story are indeed much more powerful than the good guys, in terms of sheer military strength (they have roughly a 3 to 1 advantage). Not only that, but they have some pretty good strategies they deploy against the good guys (this stuff will play into the "bigger picture" though. I'm not purposely making the bad guys stronger just so the good guys can look like a "ragtag rebel force". I always had problems with the rebel fleet defeating the Empire's forces at Endor in ROTJ, even though it was really cool to watch hehe. So much for the Emperor's "elite" forces who really aren't lol)

So yeah, I want the story to seem bleak, but the good guys will still inevitably win in the end (which I can't finish in one book lest I wanna turn run it into 1000 pages, but that's what sequels are for right?)



Lose the mysterious figure. Deus ex machina sucks.

Well, the issue with this is, I have heavy fantasy elements in my story, and this figure will play more prominently later on. Right now it's essentially just a space age war scene, but fantasy elements will come into play later on (I'm peppering the book with hints about it. In fact, at the beginning of my book, the bad guy's leader, who's just "an average joe" at that point, discovers a demon who promises to make him powerful if he obeys, and by the time you see him again three chapters later, he has indeed grown to be a powerful figure. And he's got issues he wants to fix regarding the good guys during his rise to power. Imagine if Hitler had won WW2, and decided to take revenge on the US for doing Lend-Lease. It's something similiar to that).


Cool replies though, it seems it's not entirely original, but hopefully I can put a new twist on it :) I'm trying to make sure all of these things happen for a reason, so that it doesn't seem like I threw it in there for the sake of having it in there (believe me, it took a long time to figure out how to mix the fantasy elements into this largely sci-fi story, but I think that in the end, it'll work out. I'm pretty happy with the overall outline I have so far, and am making changes when needed).

Ivonia
10-05-2005, 07:32 AM
Thanks for the info dave. Yeah, I know that there are times when a smaller force can defeat a larger one, or at least do something pretty extravagant that it'll be remembered (I think it was you that mentioned this one battle where it was one ship vs. like 50 other ones).

I suppose it's cooler watching the rebel ships blow up the star destroyers and TIE's (which, prior to this battle, Star Destroyers seemed nearly impossible to destroy, lest you were a huge asteroid hehe).

I actually have an "underdog" battle at the end, and like the other stuff I posted, has a lot of those "tough choices" to make (but don't worry, I explain why this stuff happens, and again, the hero's got a decision of a rock or a hard place to choose from. That "mysterious figure" will also come into play here, but he's there mostly to give the hero reassurance and direction, as the hero's had to make another really difficult decision prior to this, this time involving his girlfriend and some of his other friends being left behind on a planet being overrun by the bad guys). And what happens at the end is sort of a culmination and payoff of some relatively "unsatisfactory events" earlier (for instance, the hero and his fleet manage to escape from a battle they can't win. It's not a "great" event per say, but stuff that happened in that battle will help them in the final battle at the end), and the ending is pretty "happy" (especially after what I put the hero through hehe).

Yeah, I'm slowly working on it hehe. It's just really tough to find a lot of time to write when I have all this homework/reading to do for my classes at college.

preyer
10-05-2005, 09:04 AM
'enemy mine' sprang to mind, too. sympathizing with the enemy is nothing new, but it's usually interesting. how many 'sgt. rock' and 'weird war' comic books have i read with this as a plot? a bunch. there's still room for another retelling.

keeping a secret if you're a conscientious, righteous person is hard to do. or so i hear. at the same time, since it's a child, i think there's room there for the hero to feel as if he did the right thing. indeed, by turning the child loose, he's showing his enemy compassion, which the child most likely never knew was capable in the enemy. the hero could even justify it in his own mind by thinking that the child would turn on his comrades and perhaps become a double-agent or something. like so many things, what a person does in the immediacy of a situation doesn't always amount to the best thing they could have done.

being a pilot, he's probably an intelligent man, eh? being such, it's reasonable to expect him to have a philosophy separate from the party line which says that a warrior doesn't always have to be a brutal animal every step of the way. one of the most cliche plot devices in sci-fi is how compassion and love wins out over brute force, amoral and/or emotionless actions and even superior intellect. then again, this is why the good guys always win, lol.

at the same time, what you're writing doesn't sound as if the reader won't pretty much know what's going to happen. that's not bad, per se, just probably not going to surprise anyone, so it's up to you to make it interesting. one thing i advise against doing, however, is heaping too much 'situation' on his predicament, that is, he crashes, it's raining acid, his leg is broke and he has to get to base before it gets infected, he's lost his medication, his girlfriend breaks up with him over a com-link after telling him his parents just died, the food is poisonous, an asteroid is about to strike, a volcano is ready to burst, his ship landing gave away his position to the enemy, the locals are cannibals, their women are fugly and his underwear keeps riding up. just too much.

i once started writing a story that began well enough, but by the time the space pirates boarded, the mutineers had disabled the ship, sending it into a slowly decaying orbit around a planet just as a meteor showing was tearing the ship to bits. too, too, TOO much. i think there's a limit to how much a person will accept in terms of 'what can go wrong, will go wrong.' that's probably why i hated the movie 'armageddon' with bruce willis so much. i can't stand it when out of the blue something happens that threatens them all, like an otherwise nearly unbreakable cable snapping for no really good reason or an alarm doesn't sound because a saboteur disabled it early in the story. not that your story is like that, i'm just saying. :)

would it flesh his character out more? certainly. in fact, it will probably define him from that point on. that's a big spike in his character arc, eh? if that's the way you want the hero to be, no problems, but i best not see him raping someone later on, know what i mean?

this may even be a pretty common syndrome with pilot, actually. i don't know for sure, but it seems to me that since pilots don't see their enemy's eyes or faces or what have you, there's a distance there. no WWII bombadier could live with himself if he knew all the carnage he caused with the flick of a switch, ya think? so, seeing your enemy up front and personal, particularly a child, i wouldn't necessarily think the killing instinct is blow-for-blow identical. if anyone ever found out about what he did, he could use that as an argument, couldn't he?

badducky
10-07-2005, 01:42 AM
The answer to the question, "Has this been done before?" is always yes. Always.


That's not important. It doesn't even matter if it's a bit cliche.

What matters is your delivery of the information. If you can tell that story well, you can do anything. You could re-write Tolkein (hint, hint:how many authors make a living re-writing Tolkein?)