Fresh Perspectives Appreciated :)

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  • #123612
    claire
    @claire-h

    Hey guys!

    So right now I’m in the plotting stages of my book, and I have brainstormed myself into numerous corners. XD So I thought I would throw out some of the difficulties I’m having to see if someone with a fresh perspective can help. Thanks in advance!

    First things first, my story is futuristic and it takes place in this settlement that’s built around an endangered animal refuge called “The Animal Sanctum”. It’s a government funded experiment to try and repopulate the Amazon rainforest. The Sanctum is in a remote location in the Peruvian Amazon.

    But unknown to most of the inhabitants, the Sanctum Settlement is also home to another government experiment: memory erasure. My villain is the scientist (Dr. Arrowood) conducting this experiment. So here’s my first difficulty: What is motivating him in his experimentation with erasing human memories? My first thought is that he has a terrible memory of his own that he wants to get rid of. But what memory could be awful enough that he hasn’t been able to suppress it all these years? (say it’s been 40 years since said event happened. He has to have time to study and experiment.) Obviously he tells himself that the reason he does these experiments is for the good of humankind (lie). But deep down he needs a more selfish motivation.

    Enter MC, Rubi Manco, a girl who was found abandoned in the jungle as a child. When she was found, it was obvious something traumatic had happened to her. Dr. Arrowood decides to use her as his first experiment with removing a specific memory. (He had already wiped a man’s entire memory, which also plays into a side character’s arc.) Second difficulty: Why is Rubi willing to break with everything she knows to find out the truth about her past? Obviously she’s curious and very emotionally invested, but shouldn’t there be a stronger external motive here? Also I’m trying to figure out if she should have remnants of her memory left. But that presents an issue, because Dr. Arrowood has been monitoring her ever since she was a kid. So how has she kept this memory a secret?

    Ok, ok I promise this is the last thing. XD If you’ve read this far *high five* and thank you. So back to the villain. What should be his goal in this story? How should Rubi stand in his way? Is he close to erasing his own memory? If so, that’s not really interfering with the MC, Rubi. Note: Rubi’s goal is to find out the truth about her past. Her sidekick is the son of the man whose entire memory was wiped. They are both trying to find the truth about Dr. Arrowood and his experiments. 

    In short, I’m having difficulties pinpointing the main conflict… It doesn’t help that I’ve  been thinking it over for way too long. So maybe you will have new perspectives/ideas. Questions are welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read this. 🙂

     

    a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.
    it just blooms.

    #123615
    Ella
    @writergirl101

    @claire-h

    What’s up!  I feel you–I do this ALL the time…  (btw, if none of these suggestions are helpful, just ignore what I said and listen to what the next person says 😉)

    What is motivating him in his experimentation with erasing human memories?

    Hmmm…  what if he had some sort of physical scar (+ emotional trauma) that he just can’t get rid of?  If he managed to get his trauma under control, he’d still have physical scars/injuries to trigger that trauma again.  That would also serve as the selfish motivation: to bring healing to himself.  (also, does he erase memories, then replace that memory with a different one?  if that’s the case, he could replace his old, bad memories with a new one, e.g.  getting in a car accident or something, hence the injuries)  idk, just an idea

    Why is Rubi willing to break with everything she knows to find out the truth about her past?

    If you make curiosity one of her greatest motivations/personality traits, then it would make more sense.  You could also make curiosity the reason she got into a traumatic incident… 🤷‍♀️  As for keeping her memory a secret, she could maybe take some sort of drug/medicine/plant that suppresses her memory (tho it doesn’t work all the time).  That, paired with giving her a really strong/almost impenetrable mind keeps the memory a secret.

    What should be his goal in this story?

    What if Dr. A has had a strong attachment with Rubi since the beginning (either so it’s easier to erase her memory, or just to give him a redeeming quality–hey, maybe he’s good with kids? 😆)?  So 1) when Rubi begins to search for a way to regain her memory, OR 2) she begins to be “poisoned” if you will, against Dr. A by her sidekick (because of their past), Dr. A is sad and angry.  So he tries to make her understand why he’s doing what he does (which might lead to her figuring out a cure for her memory if he reveals important info…)

    One question:  why can’t Dr. Arrowood erase his own memory even though he can erase others’?

    So yeah, there are a bunch of ideas for you to think over. 😊  (Don’t feel obligated to like and/or use these ideas, though 😋)  I HOPE HOPE HOPE that this will inspire you to keep on trucking on!!!!!!!!!  (I also hope it makes sense–I have a very cluttered mind, as well as the tendency not to make sense… 😄)

    Happy writing,

    Ella

    If something goes wrong in your life, yell "Plot twist!" and keep going. 😎🍰

    #123629
    claire
    @claire-h

    @writergirl101

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts!! They were very helpful. 🙂

    I had actually thought about him having some sort of physical scar too. I like the idea of it triggering his memory. But I keep coming up against the fact that this is futuristic! Surely there are ways to fix scars… Yes, replacing memories could be a neat twist too!

    Thanks for the suggestions about Rubi! I like the idea of curiosity being a dominant trait.

    Haha, fun suggestions for the villain. I like it! So many people view villains as the worst possible character, and totally miss the “redeeming qualities” that make them seem real! Good idea about Rubi having a close relationship with Dr. Arrowood. That could really bring in some interesting complexity.

    Answer to your one question: 😉 He is afraid to mess himself up. He hasn’t reached the stage of perfecting a selective memory removal. That’s why he has been experimenting with Rubi. He’s very close though… I need to find away to make that tie into the climax.

    Aw, thanks! Your suggestions did inspire me! It’s so refreshing to hear things from a new perspective. Sometimes you reach a point where you are tired of staring at your computer screen trying to puzzle things out. XD

     

    a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.
    it just blooms.

    #123646
    Ella
    @writergirl101

    @claire-h

    Sometimes you reach a point where you are tired of staring at your computer screen trying to puzzle things out. XD

    I totally get that.

    But I keep coming up against the fact that this is futuristic! Surely there are ways to fix scars…

    Hmmm…  I’ll have to think about that…  Maybe he lost a limb that can’t grow back…?  Never mind, I don’t think I’m helping anymore… 😜😂

    Of course!  I’ll tag some more people to give more thoughts (hopefully–come on guys, don’t let me down 😋)


    @zee


    @arindown

    @mischevous-thwapling


    @imwritehere1920


    @kristianne-hassman


    @beth20


    @sparrowhawke


    @kimlikesart

    @anyone-else

    If something goes wrong in your life, yell "Plot twist!" and keep going. 😎🍰

    #123654
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @writergirl101

    Hi Ella!  Thanks for tagging me!  I liked your suggestions, especially the one where Dr. Arrowood has some sort of attachment to Rubi (hello complications!)  How have you been?

     


    @claire-h

    Hi Claire!  I’m Lily.  You have a really interesting plot situation; is your story MG or YA?  (Sometimes, when I’m working on a project, I find it helpful to take a long break so that when I return, new ideas already start coming to mind.)  🙂

    Okay, on to your first question. ‘What should be his goal in this story?’  You thought about adding something terrible in his past (maybe something traumatic?), but seemed unsure what it would be.  What if Dr. Arrowood doesn’t want to just erase his own memory but the memory of other people?  Here’s two different examples:

    One:  What if Dr. Arrowood was the one responsible for some horrific accident that not only affected him, but other people (wife, child, innocent bystanders, etc.)?  What if some people hold a grudge against him or vowed revenge?  If he could make them forget, then they wouldn’t be after him.  Or maybe he thinks if he can erase his memory, then he’d be free of the guilt that’s eating him up (maybe someone close to him dies in the accident?)

    Two:  What if, instead, Dr. Arrowood committed some crime, or some illegal/unethical experiment?  What if he was found out and his fellow scientists turned him out in disgrace?  What if, because of that, he loses his influence and his reputation is trashed, so he’s forced to hide?  If he could make the other scientists forget, he’d be ‘redeemed’, and could return home.  That could be a very selfish motive.

    Next question: ‘Why is Rubi willing to break with everything she knows to find out the truth about her past?’

    In the Giver (by Lois Lowry), Jonas lives his normal life, not questioning the rules or how things are done.  Until he begins to notice strange occurrences.  What if Rubi begins to notice strange things (maybe minor at first, then they steadily grow bigger and bigger?)  Perhaps Dr. Arrowood starts to let something slip, maybe she glimpses his experiment notes.  You mentioned that her sidekick is the son of a man whose memory was wiped by Dr. Arrowood.  How does the son meet Rubi?  Does he know what happened to his father or does he have any clue who did it?  Perhaps he could stir up Rubi’s curiosity.  Maybe he wants her help and if so, why?  All these things could drive Rubi to question who Dr. Arrowood really is and what’s he doing.  Maybe she starts to question if he did anything to her.

    If you want Rubi to retain parts of her memory, I think it’s possible to weave that into the story.  Like @writergilr101 suggested, maybe medicine, or Dr. Arrowood’s experiment try to suppress her memory as it starts to come back; but for some reason, it doesn’t work, and eventually, Rubi figures out to keep quiet about her returning memory.  That could also lead her to question what is going on.

    Third Question: ‘How should Rubi stand in his way? Is he close to erasing his own memory?’  I’ll just roll these two together.

    Alright, last one (promise!  Thanks for hanging in there with me 🙂 )  I’m not exactly sure how Rubi could stand in Dr. Arrowood’s way.  Maybe, as she’s getting close to discovering the truth, he’s afraid she’ll reveal what he’s doing and it’ll come to a stop.  So maybe he tries to hide it from her, or stop her; but since she’s curious and determined, she keeps finding ways to get around his obstacles.  (quick question: is Rubi the MC/point of view character, or Dr. Arrowood?)  If it’s Dr. Arrowood, he may see Rubi as a threat to revealing his experiments; therefore he tries to get rid of her/stop her, but maybe struggles to do so since she’s been with him for so long (is he attached to Rubi?)

    I’ve noticed you’ve said that Dr. Arrowood has been working on this experiment for maybe 40 years?  How old is he now?  Could you use his age to generate conflict?  For Example, does he have much longer to live?  If not and he’s no closer to finding a way to erase select memories, maybe he gets more anxious, and start taking more dangerous steps to accomplishing his goal.

    I’m so sorry that was a long post.  I hope this has been helpful.  🙂

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

    #123655
    Ella
    @writergirl101

    @imwritehere1920

    Of course!!  I’m great, thanks for asking!  Just about to start my novel which I’ve been developing for a while!!!!! 😃

    Great suggestions, btw. 😉

    If something goes wrong in your life, yell "Plot twist!" and keep going. 😎🍰

    #123658
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @writergirl101

    Cool!  What genre is it (if you don’t mind me asking)?  🙂

    Thanks so much!  🙂

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

    #123693
    claire
    @claire-h

    @imwritehere1920

    Hi Lily! Nice to meet you. 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to share your ideas! They were all super helpful.

    This story is YA. I’m thinking that Rubi is around 20ish.

    Rubi is the main POV character. I have been thinking about adding Ikal (the son of the man whose memory was wiped) as another POV character, but I’m not sure. It would be super interesting to write from Dr. Arrowood’s POV too though… So many decisions, lol. I’m really liking you and Ella’s ideas about making Dr. Arrowood a sympathetic character. So intriguing. 😀 I especially liked the suggestion about making time a key element to push Dr. Arrowood to move faster towards his goal. Then there’s the whole realm of government involvement, which could spiral out of control fast… I was thinking that the government is funding Dr. Arrowood in this experiment.

    Rubi’s sidekick Ikal is the son of an illegal animal trader. His father was apprehended and punished for engaging in the illegal animal trade. Dr. Arrowood saw him as a good person to experiment on with the memory wipe. So Ikal is trying to find out who ruined his father. He wants revenge. So yeah, I’ve been planning on him and Rubi working together. (of course they have to have a lot of conflict though too XD)

    Then there’s the issue of it being an Animal Sanctum. I have to find a way for that setting to be necessary to the plot! It started out as just a cool idea and now I need to make it a key element…

    Sorry for all my ramblings, lol. Thanks again for taking the time to help out!

    a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.
    it just blooms.

    #123694
    Kristianne
    @kristianne-hassman

    @writergirl101 Thanks for tagging me! I don’t know how much help I can be, but I shall try! 🙂


    @claire-h

    Your story sounds really interesting! And I really like your villain. I’ve noticed a serious lack of good villains in fiction! 😉

    For the first question, I think giving him a bad memory he wants to get rid of is a good motivation. Maybe he made some mistake in his youth (like accidentally killing or maiming someone close to him like a family member or friend) that motivates him to do this. Maybe other people have used this memory against him, so he wants to get revenge on them by also taking away their memories. Or he realizes all of mankind would be better off if they didn’t remember their past mistakes.

    For the second question, maybe Rubi sees other children and longs for the loving relationship she sees them having with their parents. So she decides that the risk of discovering something bad is worth it to find out if she has any loved ones left. Or after living all these years with the doctor, she sees how enslaved he is by the fact that he won’t accept and move on with his memories. Maybe she doesn’t want to be enslaved in the same way, so she decides to take the risk of freedom.

    As for her having a memory that Dr. Arrowood doesn’t know about–It could be that the memory is so strong that it’s always been there in the back of her mind, but she can’t quite put it together. Until one day, all the pieces kind of fit together, and she realizes what the memory is. This could be the “inciting incident” of the story that causes her to set out on her journey to stop the doctor and find out more about his background. She realizes that her memories are worth keeping, even the painful ones. They’re too precious to simply erase.

    I also like Ella’s idea that Dr. Arrowood has grown attached to Rubi and when she starts trying to figure out her past, he doesn’t want her to get hurt, so he tries to stop her.

    Anyway, I was just kind of brainstorming here, but I hope it’s somewhat helpful!

    Courage, dear heart.

    #123697
    Arindown
    @arindown

    @writergirl101 Thanks for the tag.😄


    @claire-h
    Wow, this is really intriguing. I’m just going to throw out a few ideas that might help.

    1. What if Dr. Arrowood is trying to protect someone? That could be motivation. What if, lets say, his son did something bad, for one of his father’s “projects” and now he’s going crazy because of the memory. So Dr. Arrowood would be working to clear his own name, clear his son’s name, and save his son from insanity.

    2. What if Rubi had something to do with the initial accident? For example, if she saw Dr. Arrowood do something bad, she doesn’t remember details (because she was little), but she could be supporting evidence for another eyewitness. I think, if you want Dr. Arrowood to actually be evil, he would just kill her. But, you could put another twist to the story and make a reason he can’t get rid of her. Let’s say, Rubi is Dr. Arrowood’s son’s favorite person, and the only reason he hasn’t gone insane yet.

    Those are just the ideas that popped into my head. Hope it was a little helpful.😊

    Forgiven. Loved. Creative.

    #123698
    Zee
    @zee

    Well, it looks like you’ve got some great ideas so far, but if you want to make the animal sanctum play a key role in the story, what if you somehow tie in the endangered animal refuge with the memory experiments

    Maybe Dr. Arrowood started on his quest to erase/replace memories because poachers keep on returning to the site and stealing the rare animals he’s worked for years to protect. Maybe stealing and selling the animals, or their parts, is a hugely profitable business, and now Dr Arrowood has got on the bad side of the boss of one of the smuggling outfits, or some such thing. He’s willing to trade memory-wiping secrets in exchange for keeping his animals and his sanctuary safe. (I can imagine a major crime boss would have plenty of ways to use drugs or technology that would erase people’s memories.) And then maybe he finds himself in over his head, and stuck fulfilling promises he never meant to keep…and he hates himself for doing what he’s doing to Rubi and others, but if he stops, then everything he’s worked for will be destroyed and everyone, maybe even Rubi and others, will be killed. He tells himself he’s hurting a little part of her (stealing the memories) in order to save her life.

    Too much help isn’t always helpful, but I thought I’d throw my two cents into the mix, because it’s such a cool story idea!

    #123724
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    Why is Arrowood a villain? Almost everyone on earth has memories they would get rid of if they had the chance, even if it’s just the memory of something embarrassing they did that keeps making them cringe years later.

    But plenty of people have far more serious memories they want to escape. It’s a cliché that a character drinks or uses drugs to forget. If in a movie we see a character drinking liquor and holding his head in his hands, we know with no dialogue that he’s trying to escape his past, or at least forget it.

    What I’m trying to say is a project like this would have many, many happy volunteers and patrons. Someone working on a project like this would be seen as doing a great service to humanity.

    Why does wanting healing make a person selfish? Is an amputee who gets a prosthetic limb selfish for wanting to be whole?

    You can orient this around a moral statement that it’s irresponsible to run away from the past instead of seeking atonement and redemption (and really, this is a sentiment plenty of secular people share, as well as Christians—it was the message of The Lion King, for crying out loud!), but I don’t see any of that in your overview. It sounds to me like you decided Arrowood needed to be the villain and are now trying to figure out how to make him a bad person instead of just an antagonist.

    As for Rubi: What’s the void in her life that she thinks restoring the memory will fix? In such a controlled environment, what happens that convinces her that her life is not what a life is supposed to be and that regaining her memory will fill that void?

    You might want to make Rubi younger because YA protagonists are generally in their teens, but if she’s emotionally stunted from her lack of socialization and contact with humanity, you could make her act emotionally closer to a child despite being older.

    If that were the case, could Rubi read a book of fairy tales (from some giant library Arrowood might have) in which there’s a story of a princess being captured and made to pretend to be a servant by a witch or something like that, which in her inability to parse reality makes her identify with the princess and want to escape back to where she’s sure she came from?

    Could Rubi have asked Arrowood to erase her memories? I guess in a situation like this, you’d need to avoid a scenario where the entire plot could be solved by the characters sitting down and having an honest chat.

    Could Arrowood keep removing Rubi’s memories when she becomes self-aware so she repeatedly thinks she’s a young child who has only been there for a couple years, but then she discovers old records of her over the years and realizes with horror that she’s actually an adult and that if she is caught out again everything that she currently is will be taken away from her again?

    You could tie that into a character weakness of Arrowood in believing no person should ever have to experience pain, to the extent that he believes he’s doing the right thing by removing Rubi’s sense of self to prevent her from feeling emotional pain at her past and the way he’s betrayed her. He doesn’t even need a selfish desire at this point (outside of not wanting pain himself, which you could express through other ways like a drug addiction) but only a belief that it is okay for him to control the lives of others if it means doing what he thinks is best for them.

    I hope this sparked ideas. You certainly have an interesting premise!

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #123738
    claire
    @claire-h

    @kristianne-hassman Great suggestions, thank you! I actually hadn’t thought about her living with the Dr… So now I’m thinking I will have him adopt her. Makes sense, and her adoptive father never had much a of a strong character in my mind anyway, lol.


    @arindown
    Thank you!! 🙂  Very interesting villain motivation! I just don’t see how it’s villainous. XD Oh I love your ideas for Rubi! That really makes it a much harder decision for Dr. Arrowood.


    @zee
    Thanks for throwing in your two cents! 😉 I like the idea of adding in more of the illegal animal trade. It definitely would give more of a complicated antagonistic force.

    a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.
    it just blooms.

    #123739
    claire
    @claire-h

    @taylorclogston Thank you for your observations! They are super helpful and thought provoking. Especially the point you made about Arrowood. I’ve been having trouble developing him, mainly because I came up with the story idea and the main characters first, and then had to put a face to this vague antagonistic force I had. It’s always so hard to know where to start with story ideas! I had been thinking that he would have some internal conflict caused by his attachment to Rubi. So maybe he tries to stop her from finding out her past, partly because he loves her, and partly because he doesn’t want her knowing what he has done to people (possibly she saw him doing something?). Or maybe he just doesn’t want her knowing that her parents are alive. Maybe he wants her to stay with him. Or perhaps all those motivations combined. I’m wondering if villains can have a negative character arc throughout a book, or if they are already supposed to have made their “wrong decision” before the story happens. Because I had thought about him choosing to wipe Rubi’s entire memory before she finds out the truth. And yes, I had been planning on having the message be something about “erasing a memory doesn’t erase reality and what happened”. In other words, erasing your own memory doesn’t make your sins lose their consequences or change the fact that you’ve hurt other people. But then that applies more to the villain than the MC. Phew, writing takes so much thought and planning.

    Yes, I could definitely make Rubi younger. I also really like your point about her being emotionally stunted. I was thinking that when she meets Ikal, he could be the outside force that causes her to question things. But she would also have to find out something more personal, instead of being unrealistically motivated by this random guy who is looking for revenge.

    You could tie that into a character weakness of Arrowood in believing no person should ever have to experience pain, to the extent that he believes he’s doing the right thing by removing Rubi’s sense of self to prevent her from feeling emotional pain at her past and the way he’s betrayed her. He doesn’t even need a selfish desire at this point (outside of not wanting pain himself, which you could express through other ways like a drug addiction) but only a belief that it is okay for him to control the lives of others if it means doing what he thinks is best for them.

    This was an intriguing thought. I had considered making Rubi’s main fault wanting to control others at the expense of their humanity, so that could possibly work, with Arrowood being the representation of where that problem could take her.

    Thanks again for the help! (Also, don’t feel like you have to reply. This was pretty much just me brainstorming through the ideas you shared, lol)

     

    a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.
    it just blooms.

    #123761
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @claire-h

    No problem!  I’m glad I could hep.  You have a really cool idea; I wish you the best in your writing 🙂

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

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