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Forcing characters to make unwise choices

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ireth, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I have a situation in the early chapters of my story, as follows. Loegaire is a fugitive from the court of King Madoc, hiding in the home of Vincent, while Cadell searches for him by order of the aforesaid king. Cadell and some other guards track Loegaire down and attempts to break-and-enter Vincent's house, while Vincent tries to fend Cadell off. Loegaire hides in an upstairs room, and decides to sneak out of the house so Cadell won't harm Vincent in pursuit of him. I need him to be caught so the plot can progress with his arrest as well as those of Vincent and his family. So as the scene goes right now, I have Loegaire sneak downstairs through the house while invisible and try to escape through a broken window, where he is caught after hurting himself.

    Unfortunately for the plot, there are much wiser options Loegaire could take which are well within his power -- jumping out of the upstairs window and luring Cadell away, for one (since he's strong and agile enough to survive such a jump unharmed). But if Loegaire escapes successfully and leaves no reason for Cadell to suspect Vincent of hiding Loegaire, the plot can't go forward, since Vincent and his family need to be arrested, and that charge is the easiest one to go with (as opposed to, say, killing Cadell or one of the other guards). Vincent isn't the type to fight anyone without provocation, and Cadell doesn't actually want to harm Vincent or Loegaire; he's just doing his job. Loegaire has done some stupid things in times of desperation, but only when he saw no other option, and this time the wiser and safer options are pretty darn obvious. How can I keep the plot on-track without throwing any of my characters the Idiot Ball, since it isn't in character for them to hold it?
     
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Can Vincent be arrested for defying Cadell's authority by not allowing him in? How about for injuring Cadell or one of his guards in the process of resistance?

    Is Cadell petty enough to pick Vincent up for an unrelated charge (e.g. possession of contraband)?

    Does Loegaire know Cadell well enough to know he won't harm Vincent? To put it another way, does Loegaire have a wrong-headed reason to think he needs to defend Vincent from Cadell?

    Is Cadell smart enough to put guards outside all the windows?
     
  3. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

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    Rather than forcing Loegaire to make the unwise decision, try to pin it on Vincent.

    Consider the situation Vincent is facing: The King's men is banging on his door (there's provocation there). And although Cadel don't want to hurt him, Vincent didn't know that, right? Same with Loegaire. For all he knows, Cadel's there to make him a head shorter.

    Also, it's possible that Loegaire to make unwise choice when he's panicking. Perhaps he jumped through the window, alerting the guards below. Or maybe he did jump (assuming that no perimeter by the guards) but there's some junk/bushes/tree on his landing site that alert the guards anyway. If the guard's forming a perimeter, then Loegaire decision of jumping out is unwise in on itself.

    Other than this, Feo Takahari pretty much outlines everything that I had in mind. Just remember: a character can't make wise choice all the time. To do that, they must have the necessary information and the mental state to process it. Just play around with these two variable and you'll be set.
     
  4. On the topic of needing Vincent to be arrested even in the unlikely event Loegaire escapes, maybe shortly before trying to force entry Cadell saw Loegaire through the window, making him panic and run upstairs? Then Cadell would be able to arrest Vincent for sheltering a criminal, if Loegaire is notorious all the worse for vincent.

    As for the idiot choice thing, Wanara summed up pretty much my opinion on the matter: Don't be afraid to use human impulsiveness as a tool. If Loegaire realises guards are about to land on top of him, its not surprising if he acts on impulse. Making the wrong decision on the spur of the moment is something that I think would work for people of any intelligence, whether taking a wrong turn or falling over and injuring himself in the rush. After all human instinct is unpremeditated, and certainly can't be relied upon to make us do jumps and acrobatics that miraculously deliver us from danger. Alas, more often our actions just turn around and bite us on the arse.

    As for the window, is it really large, strong and low enough to allow a swift, quiet exit? It could be too small, too high, or simply unable to open without a lot of effort and noise.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  5. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    Have him twist his ankle or something? Hard to jump with a twisted or perhaps broken ankle.
     
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    1a) Possibly. b) Also possible, since such an injury does happen, though it's in self-defense after the guard attacks first.

    2) If he gets angry enough, he might. Though what that unrelated charge could be, I have no idea. There are no imports or exports between Earth and Faerie, legal or otherwise, to require use of the term "contraband". And Fae wouldn't have any knowledge of what would be contraband in a human sense. The only illegal (to the Fae) thing Vincent has in his house is Loegaire himself.

    3) I hadn't thought of that. ^^; I'm sure the humanoid Fae would be good at climbing walls and the like.

    Not exactly. Cadell explicitly says "we mean no harm to him [Loegaire] or you [Vincent]." He's not in a bloodlust, he just wants to get his job done with a minimum of fuss.

    That could be. I'll have to give this a lot more thought, it seems.

    I don't think that'd work. Loegaire has been upstairs for a while before the guards arrive, since Vincent made the mistake of inviting his brother Dom, who doesn't know Loegaire is there, over for dinner. Vincent advises Loegaire to stay upstairs until Dom leaves, and makes sure to sneak him a meal in his room while Dom is distracted. Loegaire is also currently invisible under a Glamour illusion, so not even his own people would be able to see him even if they were right in front of him.

    Very good point. ^^ That last one is especially true for Vincent. He agrees to shelter Loegaire as repayment of a debt earned in the prequel, and it gets him arrested for trying to uphold a sense of honor.

    Also a good point. XD

    Ooh, that would work.
     
  7. Have him leave something important downstairs that he needs to get before he can leave. Have it be important enough that Loeghaire decides he has to risk retrieving it. And if what he considers important is actually not so much (i.e., money or something) you also get to give him an exploitable weakness that will be a hindrance for him as the story goes forward.
     
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'm not sure that would work, since he initially escapes into the human world with only the clothes on his back and a dagger in his boot. He's wearing his only clothes when he's caught, and would presumably keep the dagger with him for self-defense purposes. Also, the Fae typically don't hold value to material goods such as money. But I could maybe exploit one of his known weaknesses for the purposes of the plot. If he believes Vincent's daughter Ariel (whom Loegaire once tried to "adopt" as his own daughter, and failed) to be in danger from Cadell, he could accidentally reveal himself trying to protect her.
     
  9. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Since it seems like the goal is arresting Vincent rather than Leogaire, maybe Leogaire gets away unnoticed, after much hair-raising suspense-- and then Cadell arrests Vincent anyway. :banghead:

    Normally that's a way to show the searcher is that big of a jerk, and you've said Cadell isn't. But you could escalate various hostilities between Vincent and Cadell (or especially, Dom or other humans in the house, or hotheaded guards with Cadell) until Cadell doesn't have a choice (it might even be a guard daring him to show mercy that tips his hand), or let them find some clue that Leogaire was there... or it's hiding the clue that escalates the hostility...
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  10. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    No, Cadell's primary goal is arresting Loegaire. Vincent is just in his way, and once Cadell discovers Loegaire hiding in his home, Vincent (as well as Dom and Ariel, as "accomplices") will be arrested for harboring Loegaire as a fugitive. As long as Loegaire isn't found with him, Vincent is safe. Which won't happen, unfortunately. All four of them -- Loegaire, Vincent, Dom and Ariel -- need to be arrested together in order for the plot to go forward.

    This scene is proving especially troublesome since I'm also waffling with whose POV to write it in. Originally it was from Vincent's, but then I thought it might be better from Loegaire's, and started drafting a scene accordingly. The upside to using Loegaire's POV is that the reader knows his fear and motivations behind choosing to do whatever he ends up doing to try to escape; the downside is that, since he's hiding upstairs while Vincent and Dom face Cadell and co. at the front door, he only overhears their conversation and doesn't get to see what's going on. From Vincent's POV, we see and hear the full exchange between him and Cadell, but it's arguably less engaging since Vincent has less at stake, at least until Loegaire is found (which isn't until much of the action is over -- another downside of Loegaire's POV is that he may miss out on that depending on what he does or doesn't do).
     
  11. Leif Notae

    Leif Notae Sage

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    Could always be a case of being misidentified too. The one simple thing, perhaps he looks LIKE the suspect from a distance mixed in with the tired and unwilling to bend guard makes it a matter of necessity. the idea of "I have to bring in SOMEONE, and today isn't your lucky day" might work.

    However, I think I'd need to know a lot more on the antagonist and villain in this situation before I went further with it.

    EDIT: Just read your previous response... So why do they have to get arrested together? Could it be separate? Perhaps they are just detaining the others until they catch their suspect and find out he was harbored at their place.
     
  12. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'm afraid a mistaken identity is impossible. Vincent and Loegaire look nothing alike at all. Vincent is human, 5'11", with short brown hair and blue eyes. Loegaire is Fae, 6'4", with long blond hair and brown eyes. Even Dom, who is blond and 6'1", still has blue eyes just like Vincent's, and is quite obviously human.

    As for Cadell: he's not the main antagonist of the book, just a minion. He serves the Winter King and Queen with unwavering loyalty, and was good friends with Loegaire before the latter turned fugitive. They served in the King's guard together for many many years, until Loegaire's treason against the Winter King (for the sake of Ariel, who was in danger) in the prequel caused the King to demote him. Immediately afterward he decided to defect to the Summer Court, but not before freeing the Winter Princess Meabh from prison, where she was condemned to a fate worse than death for her own acts of treason, also to save Ariel.

    Loegaire and Meabh fled together, and Cadell led a search for them. Loegaire alone escaped through a gateway to the human world; Meabh didn't reach the gate before it closed, and went into hiding in Faerie. Cadell assumed Meabh was still with Loegaire, and eventually tracked him to Vincent's home, sparking the current situation. Cadell is very conflicted about having to arrest his friend, mainly because he was on guard duty in the dungeons just prior to Meabh's escape (Loegaire sneaked in during the changing of the guards), and was blamed for letting her escape at first. Leading the hunt for Loegaire and Meabh is his way of proving his innocence and loyalty to the King and Queen. He says as much to Loegaire after arresting him: "It's nothing personal. I'm just following orders."
     
  13. Leif Notae

    Leif Notae Sage

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    Forgive me if this might be a little edgy here, but it sounds like you are not having one of these characters at their fullest potential. Somewhere, somehow; someone has to be the bad guy here. There has to be either a manipulation based off desires and wants, or just base cruelty thrown in. It sounds like you are trying to wedge a conflict that shouldn't be there.

    So, is there someone in this scenario who can be that edgier bad guy in this situation? Can you add more to it than just having to be arrested with each other? Unless they are attached at the hips, you are missing a great opportunity for conflict of wills (in my opinion).
     
  14. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Oh, they're definitely not attached at the hip -- their first meeting, 17 years prior to the story, made them enemies. Vincent is bound by his word to keep Loegaire safe, though he'd much rather have never sheltered him to begin with. But he perceives the guards as a threat regardless of whether they say they mean no harm or not, because in his prior experience, the Fae are perfectly willing to twist their words or go back on them entirely. He wants to protect himself and his family more than he does Loegaire, and he's willing to harm or kill the guards if necessary.
     
  15. Leif Notae

    Leif Notae Sage

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    Hmm, no... It still sounds like you are nerfing it a bit. There's something not quite ringing true to this pairing, their actions seem (at least according to this write up and a few other posts I can stitch together) a little mechanical and not really charged. I'm not sure that makes sense, but I think you might be best to ramp up the cruel bastard in Loegaire. Someone needs to be bad in this conflict, or else it isn't going to sing.
     
  16. If your goal is to make Leogaire not an idiot but have him be discovered, the trick I think is to make Cadell smarter. Perhaps Cadell has a spell of his own that would prevent Loegaire from leaving except through the way he entered? Thresholds are traditionally somewhat powerful among the fae and you could play around with that. That would force him to go downstairs and try to sneak past, no matter how much he wants to go out the window.
     
  17. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Loegaire is not and never was a cruel bastard. Though he and Vincent both do not particularly like each other, Vincent is more the antagonist in this situation (though not by much); Loegaire has been trying to earn his trust and respect for the three days he's been under Vincent's roof. On the other hand, Vincent has been trying to find it within himself to treat Loegaire with respect (with much urging from Ariel), and fully intends to keep his word to not let Loegaire come to harm if he can help it. It will be a while before Vincent comes to really trust and respect Loegaire, which will happen over the course of the rest of the book as they're forced to work together.

    That's possible, but I'm not sure how that sort of power would work in the situation. The threshold in question belongs to Vincent, not Cadell, which might affect its effectiveness if Cadell were to try anything. The presence of iron in the house and the surrounding area would very likely hamper the spell as well; since iron harms the Fae, it's natural to assume it would disrupt their magic. Vincent and Dom both wield cast-iron frying pans against the Fae, which works pretty well against everything but Redcaps. Until the Redcaps' caps fall off, of course.
     
  18. atkogirl85

    atkogirl85 Dreamer

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    Hey, Sorry but I kinda agree.
    i had to read back through the thread a few times to (i think) make sense of it all, but I for sure think that you need some more conflict and action here. Not essentially pure-evil and explosions if you don't want, but maybe a bit more?

    For example: Sure Cadell and Leogaire are friends etc. But Cadell is 'unwaveringly' loyal and has obviously been copping some crap for what leogaire did. Even if they are besets best friends I would still expect at least some amount of tension, anger, annoyance, violence... especially seeing as he just rocked up and found out Logaire DOESNT have Meabh...

    also... If Vinvent is bound by his oath to Leogaire - but secretly doesn't want to, doesn't trust him, and shows signs of excessive protectional violence towards they guards (who is leogaires friend remember) then couldn't Vincent possibly slightly try to get legaire arrestest? set him up and fail? Go nuts with this bloodlust ? and attack Cadell - then Leogaire has no choice but to step in, thus giving himself away to protect his old friend.

    third. If Leogaire is this great Fae who can jump windows, hide in plain sight, be invisible etc - I (personally) would be really peeved if he was arrested from something as silly as a twisted ankle or glass cut arm... UNLESS there was some super duper dramatic finger biting action before his accident, and the injury was more for comedic value.

    Hope that makes sense and i remembered all the names right :)
     
  19. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Oh, there is definitely conflict. After Vincent defies Cadell one too many times, Cadell gets ticked and breaks into the house, then storms through it with his men (er, Fae) in search of Loegaire. Naturally Vincent and Dom fight to protect themselves and Ariel, which ends in some bloodshed before Loegaire is finally found. Unfortunately, this only really comes across in the version written from Vincent's POV, as Loegaire misses most of the action due to either hiding, contemplating escape, or attempting escape.

    Well, he doesn't know that Meabh isn't there yet -- he assumes she escaped with Loegaire to the human world. Vincent has told him repeatedly that she is not there, but Cadell is too angry and stubborn to believe him, and assumes it's a lie.

    I don't think so. Keeping Loegaire from getting arrested is part of the promise Vincent made, at least until a certain point in time: the morning of Beltaine (the first of May), when the Winter Court loses power and the Summer Court gains it. Unluckily for everyone, the guards find Loegaire on the evening of April 30th, so the Winter Court still has authority until the following sunrise. And the guards in question are too angry and impatient to let themselves be stalled for anywhere close to ten or twelve hours.

    That's a good point. See above for my explanation of the conflict. ^^; POVs can be frustrating in their limitations.
     
  20. Well, good luck solving this problem! :)
     
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