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Having an issue with a plot point in my latest WIP. (1 Viewer)

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JJBuchholz

Senior Member
I started a new WIP several days ago, one that I had been thinking about for quite some time before putting it together. Said
story is a new installment in my 'Temporal Flux' series, and is turning out to be quite long (that part is OK). For those of you
not too familiar with 'Temporal Flux', it's about several temporal agents and the support staff who work for the Temporal
Enforcement Bureau (TEB) in the 27th Century. Basically, they correct any issues with the time line (incursions, distortions in
the space/time continuum/etc.).

Most of the stories in the series revolve around an actual historical event that gets thrown into chaos by something that either
damages or disrupts the time line (sometimes on purpose).

In the latest installment, the events of September 11th (New York City) never occurred. The energy of the first place hitting
the World Trade Center opened a temporal schism. Alone, it wasn't enough to disrupt time, but something got thrown into
the schism that set off the disruption to the time line. It's revealed later on that a man who was working on one of the floors
that got hit by the plane fell into the schism unexpectedly and caused all the damage to history.

The man got thrown forward in time one day before the flux from the schism then threw him back a whole week. As the two
temporal agents investigate the cause of the schism, they finally locate the man responsible (albeit not his fault) and inform
him of the problem they all face because of him.

My issue now is where to go from here. I have several options available, but am unsure how they would work, or how they
sound. They are:

1) Man escapes, unwilling to go back to the time of the plane hit and die in the building.
2) Man reluctantly agrees to be returned to the time of his departure, albeit one floor higher to avert falling into the schism.
3) Man escapes, gets mortally wounded, and has to be taken to the 27th Century to be saved, only to have mind wiped and
end up dying in the building on September 11th, albeit still unconscious.

Thoughts?

-JJB
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I think the main problem there is you've informed the 'victim' of what happened. It immediately removes potential and straightforward conflict, meaning you now have to manufacture something else. I would think of the finding, informing and persuading part of the plot as the meat of the story. To my mind, you've leapfrogged a huge chunk of potential. Perhaps he gets caught up in another big problem, a problem that means he needs to hide or suspect anyone looking for him. Perhaps your protagonists could help him with this problem as a way of persuading him what they're saying is true. But those after him don't want to play ball.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
1) Man escapes, unwilling to go back to the time of the plane hit and die in the building.
2) Man reluctantly agrees to be returned to the time of his departure, albeit one floor higher to avert falling into the schism.
3) Man escapes, gets mortally wounded, and has to be taken to the 28th Century to be saved, only to have mind wiped and
end up dying in the building on September 11th, albeit still unconscious.

Thoughts?

-JJB

Hmm. I suppose the man might feel he's been given a second chance (presumably he can remember everything) so logically he might want to escape. But surely if they just keep him where he is, he would avoid falling into the schism anyway, and thereby solve the time problem while keeping himself alive. Why does he need to go back at all? I suppose also if you wanted to go for the money shot the solution could be to prevent 9/11 happening at all but that's possibly a big ask and possibly out of scope. IF they wipe his mind and stick him back in the WTC anyway, isn't that a bit evil?

What if the time agents kept him away but someone "would always fall into the schism"? Maybe they can simply learn to live with whatever time dissonance there is in C28.

Got my Sam Beckett hat on now, gonna ask Al ;)
 
My issue now is where to go from here. I have several options available, but am unsure how they would work, or how they
sound. They are:

1) Man escapes, unwilling to go back to the time of the plane hit and die in the building.
2) Man reluctantly agrees to be returned to the time of his departure, albeit one floor higher to avert falling into the schism.
3) Man escapes, gets mortally wounded, and has to be taken to the 28th Century to be saved, only to have mind wiped and
end up dying in the building on September 11th, albeit still unconscious.

Thoughts?

-JJB

Very interesting WIP. I always think that in anything you write you can have a 'hidden' feel of the ending though you may not know it. From the 3 options The Man escapes twice, so for me to not over complicate the numerous thoughts in the mind, the Man escapes. In the options, 1 & 3 can be played together. 1 can be an agent informing of this option of The Man figuring this out himself and gets trapped in scenario 3. I'm not sure if I am correct in this analysis, but I don't think it is a bad thing that The Man knows what has happened, it is more interesting to figure out how he can solve a problem that isn't of his doing, the mental process, the chaos of knowing a tragedy.

You can easily lean onto a darker side of The Man's mental state as he explores the options (all of them) yet keeping within the framework of the TEB, this time schism and agents storyline. I loved Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap. I always thought there were too many holes in the actually story of how this super genius could go back in time but every episode was so special for me, because the light was always on Sam finding his character.

I am not sure if you aimed the WIP to be character driven by this Man, so it has a darker mind psyche or you aim to keep it more story based about the time fault lines but there are a lot you can play with.
 

thepancreas11

New Writers' Mentor
WF Veterans
The man has to die. How he dies is a function of your theme.

The emotional power of this series and of your premise is that the agents have to make extremely difficult decisions. They either sacrifice themselves or they have to sacrifice other people in order to save their timeline. That must devastate them. Over time they either lose a bit of their humanity, or they fall deeper and deeper into cynicism and depression.

If you're examining the humanity of the agents--specifically one that has a callous disregard for people living in the past--then it has to be option three where they trick him into the future, wipe his mind, and place him unconscious in the World Trade Center to die. One of the agents--or possibly both--needs to be showing sociopathic tendencies. Those tendencies have to be a result of the job, and using different beats in the story, you can explore exactly how the agent has fallen so far from where they started. One of the other agents may point it out to them, may not notice it until the very end, or may experience a similar feeling but not as powerfully, which leads to the ultimate struggle at the climax. One of the agents will want to kill him much more than the other.

If you're examining the cynicism and depression side, the man sacrifices himself on the recommendation of the temporal agents. Each of the agents should show signs of fraying at the edges--irrational or uncontrollable spurts of anger, clear PTSD, inability to form relationships, etc. There are actually two options within this one, I think: the man willingly chooses to sacrifice himself from the start, or the man resists. The man resisting is a classic trope and may feel more natural: he has so much to live for, why would he sacrifice himself for them, is there some way to stop the events from happening, etc. The man would come around due to the influence of the temporal agents, and when he sacrifices himself, the 28th century rejoices, but the temporal agents have fallen deeper. The second option might be fun: while the man is so ready to sacrifice himself, the temporal agents struggle with whether it is fair to ask him to do so. Maybe one of them even prevents him from doing so and has to be defeated in order to let the man sacrifice himself. That would bring up so many moral quandaries. It's the ending I would pick myself.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Just kicking this about.
Could you hide or misdirect the character's choice? Can he change his mind at the last moment? Is there a way to add in an error or a third force that changes the math?
I love playing with what ifs...
Good luck
BC

I started a new WIP several days ago, one that I had been thinking about for quite some time before putting it together. Said
story is a new installment in my 'Temporal Flux' series, and is turning out to be quite long (that part is OK). For those of you
not too familiar with 'Temporal Flux', it's about several temporal agents and the support staff who work for the Temporal
Enforcement Bureau (TEB) in the 28 Century. Basically, they correct any issues with the time line (incursions, distortions in
the space/time continuum/etc.).

Most of the stories in the series revolve around an actual historical event that gets thrown into chaos by something that either
damages or disrupts the time line (sometimes on purpose).

In the latest installment, the events of September 11th (New York City) never occurred. The energy of the first place hitting
the World Trade Center opened a temporal schism. Alone, it wasn't enough to disrupt time, but something got thrown into
the schism that set off the disruption to the time line. It's revealed later on that a man who was working on one of the floors
that got hit by the plane fell into the schism unexpectedly and caused all the damage to history.

The man got thrown forward in time one day before the flux from the schism then threw him back a whole week. As the two
temporal agents investigate the cause of the schism, they finally locate the man responsible (albeit not his fault) and inform
him of the problem they all face because of him.

My issue now is where to go from here. I have several options available, but am unsure how they would work, or how they
sound. They are:

1) Man escapes, unwilling to go back to the time of the plane hit and die in the building.
2) Man reluctantly agrees to be returned to the time of his departure, albeit one floor higher to avert falling into the schism.
3) Man escapes, gets mortally wounded, and has to be taken to the 28th Century to be saved, only to have mind wiped and
end up dying in the building on September 11th, albeit still unconscious.

Thoughts?

-JJB
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
What if the time agents kept him away but someone "would always fall into the schism"? Maybe they can simply learn
to live with whatever time dissonance there is in C28.

Falling into the schism is what created the problem and led to 9/11 not happening. If someone else keeps falling into the schism, then 9/11 will keep
not happening, which disrupts the time line. Because 9/11 was prevented, buildings that were destroyed in the event have popped up in 28th Century
Newer York (formely New York) and is disrupting that present.

I'm at the point in the story where the TEB agents have cornered the man and have taken him somewhere to talk to him. Mind wipe is a main option,
because said man can't have any knowledge of the future or the schism itself.

-JJB
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
I am not sure if you aimed the WIP to be character driven by this Man, so it has a darker mind psyche or you
aim to keep it more story based about the time fault lines but there are a lot you can play with.

The WIP is not meant to be character driven by said man, but the impact of what happens to him might be felt by the temporal agents, as they
are out there in the field experiencing everything in that time frame.

It occurred to me just now that if the man gets away, and is chased but ends up dying though another means, it might help to move the plot
forward and have an effect on the two agents as well. The human element might come more into play under those circumstances.

-JJB
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
The emotional power of this series and of your premise is that the agents have to make extremely difficult
decisions. They either sacrifice themselves or they have to sacrifice other people in order to save their timeline. That must devastate them.
Over time they either lose a bit of their humanity, or they fall deeper and deeper into cynicism and depression.

Yes, they have to sacrifice other people to correct the timeline, and sometimes it's a heavy burden for them to bear. That being said, they are
also trained professionals who have gone through a lot to become temporal agents at the Bureau, and know what they are getting themselves
into before it even happens.

The second story in the series, "Unsinkable", found Six (main temporal agent) trying to find out why the RMS Titanic didn't sink and showed
up in New York with great fanfare. Once the culprit was found and the time line restored, Six sat on the roof of the Titanic's wheelhouse (under
cloak) and stayed with the liner long enough to feel the emotional impact of the event before returning to his own time.

In "Kill Or Be Killed", Six had to stop the person that altered history to go and kill Jack The Ripper, as Jack's untimely death gave way to a
serial killer to pop up that was one hundred times. Knowing Jack's crimes and brutality they contained, letting him live and walk away was a
questionable decision that a lesser man couldn't have made.

If you're examining the humanity of the agents--specifically one that has a callous disregard for people living
in the past--then it has to be option three where they trick him into the future, wipe his mind, and place him unconscious in the World Trade Center
to die. One of the agents--or possibly both--needs to be showing sociopathic tendencies. Those tendencies have to be a result of the job, and using
different beats in the story, you can explore exactly how the agent has fallen so far from where they started.

Neither of the two agents have a callous disregard for life or has sociopathic tendencies. Six finds solace in his work, as each new mission distracts
him from the last, as well as the fact that his parents were killed when he was very young, which gives him motivation to push himself and make
sure that he becomes better all the time.

Red uses humour to mask any misgivings about the job, and spends all his free time working out in the gym, giving him purpose. He enjoys going
on new missions, even if they do give him trepidation from time to time.

-JJB
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
So many questions....

Wiping the mind of the person ends the story, no?

Why do the agents even exist and know about this schism? If the timeline has changed, they shouldn't exist, right? If they do, why do they even know there was a change?

So the story isn't about the agents timeline existing or not depending on this person's death, but about fixing a timeline that isn't altered if the person lives or dies? If so, the decision would be easy. My existence vs some random person I don't know. That equals - DEAD PERSON. If no, why not?

Maybe the new timeline is better than the one these agents stem from. So the cost would be selfish on their end to smoke the person.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
So many questions....

Wiping the mind of the person ends the story, no?

Yes and no. I've ultimately decided against a mind wipe, and have come up with a better way of dealing with the man.

Why do the agents even exist and know about this schism? If the timeline has changed, they shouldn't exist, right?
If they do, why do they even know there was a change?

The agents work for the Temporal Enforcement Bureau, which manages the time line and is solely responsible for repairing any damage to
history due to any incursions or accidents, etc. Their headquarters (which is based out of Mare Crisium on the Moon) is specially shielded from
any changes to the time line so that they can detect and deal with any issues.

So the story isn't about the agents timeline existing or not depending on this person's death, but about fixing a
timeline that isn't altered if the person lives or dies? If so, the decision would be easy. My existence vs some random person I don't know.
That equals - DEAD PERSON. If no, why not?

The installments in this series are more based around finding out who or what damaged the time line (depending on the story) and investigating
the problem. In some cases, the solution is an easy fix. Sometimes, it's not. There is always a lot more going on than just finding the cause and
implementing a solution.

-JJB
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
I finally figured out how to deal with the errant man. Below is an excerpt from my novella, which I completed this afternoon. I spent
three hours working on it, the death of the man being the hardest. After that, the rest fell into place....

Looking over his shoulder every minute and refusing to slow down, the man had made it to the edge of Chinatown as everything became a blur. He was running so hard for so long that not only was he missing normal interactions with everyday things, but his body was starting to rebel as well, unable to keep up the maniacal pace he'd establish earlier.
The man had no choice but to find somewhere out of the way to take a break, hoping to dive into the subway system afterwards and really leave the area. He gave one last burst of whatever energy he had left to speed across the intersection of Bayard and Mott streets, when he failed to notice another fast moving object that had the right of way.
The cold, hard metal of a taxi cab took his legs out from under him as he tumbled over in the air once before bouncing off the upper windshield and roof of the car, before gravity pulled back and had him land head first into the unforgiving pavement below. His thoughts were jumbled and incoherent, his brain slowly starting to shut down from the massive trauma it had just incurred.
Blood now oozing from behing his head, his eyelids fluttered as they began to close completely, the very thing he tried to avoid now a certainty.


"The flux is about to dissipate for good!" yelled Red over the comm. "We should probably try to--" he was cut off by an alarm his his suit being put out by the computer, having detected a massive disturbance not far ahead.
Red came to a halt on the grass of a small park, and Six did the same having received the same warning from his own computer. The heads up display on his helmet showed a massive wall of energy projecting outwards from a new event horizon.
""What the hell?!" asked Red aloud to no avail.
In the seconds it took Six to try and get further readings on it, the wave slammed into both men and knocked them off their feet, hurling them into the ground, knocking them unconcious in the process as it continued to expand outwards and consume all of New York City and surrounding area, before continuing to grow. The energy wave was harmless to anyone native of the current time frame, but disrupted any kind of temporal technology or the brain waves on anyone that didn't belong there.
Something had happened to the space/time continuum, something big.

-JJB
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Please, don't call the temporal agent 'Daniels'.

I've never met the chap but a friend's son-in-law was meant to be working in WTC that day. He decided to have a day off for some reason that I can't recall (I think it was a headache). He was on a boat on the nearby river and saw the plane hit. Apparently, he's never opened up about it - possibly survivor guilt. Is there some other body working against the temporal agents who can induce headaches?
 

Steve_Rivers

Senior Member
It has that poetic feeling of "by trying to avoid your future you end up making it happen" vibe.
My only question is - does or should the man not dying in the specific way he originally did make a difference?
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
It has that poetic feeling of "by trying to avoid your future you end up making it happen" vibe.

That's what I was going for!

My only question is - does or should the man not dying in the specific way he originally did make a difference?

Not really, no. He was supposed to die in the first tower hit, but instead managed to fall into the schism that opened up due to all the energy
released. I've hinted to the reader that he fell out his window (in his office) into the schism, or could conceivably have accidently been on a
different floor than his and ended up falling into the schism due to the damage inflicted to the building.

The main thing is that he needed to die to fix the problem. Because he got hit by a taxi, he wasn't in the building to have had the chance to
fall into the schism due to the abovementioned mishap. The schism more than likely still happened, but no one fell into it, and it closed.

History was restored.

-JJB
 
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