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Author Topic: On writing damaged people....  (Read 279 times)

Morituri

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On writing damaged people....
« on: 07 Aug 2017, 20:39 »


I am writing a story.  It's longish - shaping up to be book length - and though I'll cheerily admit my opinion is quite biased, I find that I like it. 

This is a new experience for me.  Usually when I write stories I'm very unsatisfied with them.  This one, on the other hand, I wouldn't be too embarrassed to start shopping around to agents with query letters seeking to go the traditional-publishing route. 

The thing is, it does that subtle-conclusion thing where the story revolves around resolving a character arc rather than a plot arc.  It's about characters coming to terms with having a purpose and committing themselves to begin.  There's a minor plot arc that gets resolved along the way, but the character arc, and story, resolves when they choose to undertake an enormous quest whose resolution isn't addressed in the slightest.

In short, if published as a book, and well received, it would pretty much require a series of sequels.  And that would make me happy because I like these characters, and I like this storyverse, and there's tons and tons of background and setting in this 'verse that this story hasn't even touched, and I could go on writing here for years without getting close to the bottom of the well. 

But it's in these further stories I contemplate, that I see a real and serious upcoming challenge.  Writing needs good challenges, so that's good.  But resources and ideas and examples are definitely a good way to figure out how to meet them, so if you can figure out where to start?  Let me know.

Here's the challenging bit.  One of the protagonists - not the main POV character, but the main plot driver - is a woman whose sisters have been kidnapped and trafficked.   And the major quest that they wind up accepting, is to go skating across the entire storyverse - across worlds and on a journey that will take a whole lifetime - to try to find and rescue as many as they possibly can.   

She's the one member of a set of clones that the traffickers who got all her sisters, missed. Sixteen sisters have been taken.  If and as they are found, there'll be new characters to bring into the story, and these will be challenging characters to write.  They won't be finding all of them alive, they won't be finding all of them sane, and the ones they find  sane won't all be fully okay.  Many will have been abused, in different ways and to different degrees and for different purposes.  Whichever have not, are likely to have some misplaced guilt in interacting with those who have, and those who have are likely to have some misplaced resentment in interacting with those who haven't. 

It's my idea to bring them together, one at a time, in a kind of 'band of diverse quirks and perspectives and talents working together' to prosecute further adventures.  I don't want to trivialize what they've been through, I don't want to write them as mere victims played for the audience's heartstrings, I don't want to whitewash the ugly spots and vulnerabilities that abuse will leave on some of their personalities, and I don't want to pretend that their experiences since being kidnapped are anything even close to being the same; their dynamics will be complicated and often enough dysfunctional. 

But I do want them to work, sort of believably, as family.  As an 'us' against the universe's 'them' even if the 'us' isn't necessarily all that cohesive or even all that nice to each other much of the time. 

Anybody got any good examples of some similar assortment of diverse, nearly-broken and semi-broken characters working together with a shared purpose while splitting their time between mutual support and, well, demonstrating their sincere need for mutual support, sometimes in hurtful ways? 

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JoeCovenant

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Re: On writing damaged people....
« Reply #1 on: 08 Aug 2017, 09:12 »

Anybody got any good examples of some similar assortment of diverse, nearly-broken and semi-broken characters working together with a shared purpose while splitting their time between mutual support and, well, demonstrating their sincere need for mutual support, sometimes in hurtful ways?

For some reason "Guardians of the Galaxy" slammed itself into my head when I read the above...
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Covenant
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Welu

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Re: On writing damaged people....
« Reply #2 on: 08 Aug 2017, 09:39 »

A great book I've read about a diverse team of superpowered misfits is Chameleon Moon. Actually a friend of mine wrote it. It's a slightly sci-fi leaning more toward fantasy adventure and I believe will be a trilogy. The characters are diverse in terms of gender, race, sexuality and physical and mental ability.

You can hire sensitivity readers. If you're writing about a character outside your experiences, (or you have them but want a second opinion) you can ask someone who has dealt with those experiences to evaluate the accuracy or issues of the text.
I've seen people who've lost a limb, use a wheelchair, immigrated or dealt with a trauma offer or be asked to be a sensitivity reader.
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