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Suggestions for [spiritual] Possession? (1 Viewer)

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ehbowen

Senior Member
I'm novelizing a plot which I originally began writing in screenplay format. One of the key elements in the plot is the idea of possession...not in the foam-at-the-mouth and head-spinning Exorcist sense, but more in the sense of an unseen personality "nudging" you to do or say things not entirely removed from your own will, but which you would not have done or said absent their external involvement.

Writing this up as a screenplay it was simple; I just had the demonic character's face written in for the lines/actions when the speaker was being impelled/compelled to do something, and then reverting to his/her natural face/body when the vignette was complete. I'm wondering if anyone has ideas to accomplish a similar end with words on a page? I do have an innate tendency towards "word salad", so I'm a bit leery of outright explication. Ideally I'd like to give the impression that something unusual is going on in what would otherwise be an entirely normal and unremarkable conversation (friends urging the MC to 'just let go' of a GF which—he thinks—died a few months/years ago), and get back to and tie up the loose ends later.

Any ideas?
 

K.S. Crooks

Senior Member
If you want the reader to know the possession is in control then you can use a different font when they speak or do something. To be more subtle you can have a few words the possession routinely uses that the characters never does. The possession could also have a particular mannerism (biting their nails, spitting, twirling their hair) that the character never does. Theses can help the other characters in the story feel something is off with the possessed person.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
What I would suggest is to write the character and the possession as if they're two different characters. Make a sheet for the protag and make a sheet for the possession. Concentrate on traits and voices more than anything else and layer those into the narrative. People will pick up on the two different sides and you won't have to keep hinting 'now he's possessed', 'now he isn't'.
 

ehbowen

Senior Member
Thanks to both of you, although (as a one-time typesetter) I think I like the typeface suggestion better. The "possession" lies not in driving the minor characters to do something they would never do, but in using them to encourage the Main Characters to give up their individual quests to find each other again. I'm sure that the FMC's mother feels all loving and motherly when she encourages her daughter to "just let it go and find someone new" when everyone thinks that her BF was killed in action some years ago...but if she does, there's no story. Likewise the MMC and his buddy who encourages him to "move on" and spend a night painting the town red.

The "possessor" (Satan himself) will be heard from in his proper person elsewhen in the story, so the challenge is to find a way to link the various episodes together that will make sense in a later reveal without hitting the reader over the head with it in the beginning.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
In your place, I'd start the ghost/demon as a whispered voice at the back of the character's mind. Sort of like an errant thought and handle it like a conversation -
I'd like some ice cream.
He frowned. Where'd that come from? I don't like ice cream.
But I do. It gets hot down here.
The sound and tenor of the voice was like a deep whisper. Am I becoming clairvoyant?
No. You're gonna be my puppet, dude.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
VAMPIRES.

Actually, I have no idea. Hereditary, Paranormal Activity, and The Conjuring are films that do this pretty well.
 

ehbowen

Senior Member
So...opinions. How does this work?

The Navy also doesn’t waste space, either…at least not on such fripperies as enlisted berthing aboard ship. Chris lay, fully dressed except for his work boots, in a tiny nook, a reading light at one end, curtain pulled. If he placed one hand atop his head and pointed his toes he could touch both ends of the space at the same time; if he bent his elbow and raised his arm his elbow would touch the bottom of the berth above his. If he placed both arms by his side as he lay, one arm would hang over the edge. Robin had more room in her coffin.

Chris stared silently at the pea-green painted sheet metal inches above his face. Over the ship’s intercom, or 1MC, he heard a bosun’s whistle. The Petty Officer Of the Watch was speaking the welcome words, “Liberty Call, Liberty Call! Now liberty call for duty sections two and three. Liberty Call!” There was a bustle of noise from the sixty or so other men there in the CS division’s berthing compartment. Chris still lay unmoving.

Suddenly the curtain was ripped open. It was Bruce. “Are you just going to lie there all night?” he asked. “We’re in Subic! The bars and the girls here are legendary!

Chris sighed. “I know, Bruce. I know.” He still gave no sign of moving.

Over the 1MC came four dings—two, pause, two more—of the ship’s bell from the quarterdeck, and the words, “Enterprise, departing.” Then a final ding as the captain’s foot stepped off the ship onto the brow.

“Are you still moping about that girl?” Bruce asked.

“Her name is Robin,” Chris admonished.

“Was Robin,” Bruce corrected him. “Look, I know you loved her, but she’s been dead for six months. It’s time to move on!”

Christopher sighed and pulled the berth curtain shut. Bruce pulled it back open again. “Chris, have you ever been laid? For real?” he asked.

Chris pulled the curtain shut again. Bruce pulled it back open. “Have you ever even had a beer? In your whole life?”

“How is that any of your business?” Chris protested wearily.

*You need to help him.*

A broad smile and a most sincere look flowed across Bruce’s face. Almost unbidden, the words came to him. He readily let them flow to his mouth and right on through. “Chris, you know I’m your best friend…”

Chris looked at him curiously. It was as if a flicker of…something…had passed across his shipmate’s face. But Bruce continued on.

“Come with me tonight. Let’s paint the town red! Just so you can say that for once in your life you really tied one on. I’ll take care of everything. It’s my treat!”

Chris rolled his eyes, then swung out of his berth and stood up. He reached for his boots. That flicker of…whatever…passed across Bruce’s face again, as if leaving. Bruce’s voice showed the optimism in his own mind as he asked, “So you’re coming?”

Chris just looked at him as he finished lacing his boots. “I’m going home,” he said with finality. “On leave.”

He began to exit the berthing compartment. Bruce looked after him, confused. “In the middle of a deployment?” he asked.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
Too much head hopping. Too obvious. The nudges should be presented as the MCs own thoughts.

"C'mon Chris. Let's get a coupla beers with the guys. It's Smitty's turn to buy."

Chris laid the book on his chest and looked up at Bruce. He sighed and started to tell the large sailor to go away, but stopped. It would be good to get off the ship. Anything to get away from the crowd and the incessant roar of the catapult and afterburners of the FA18s. Just one night, to dull the ache Robin left in his heart. Chris swung his feet out and into his boots waiting by the bunk. He bent over and began lacing them up. He'd made up his mind.

"Atta boy! Hurry up and we can all catch a taxi together!"

"The only taxi I'm catching is the COD. I'm going home on leave. I gotta get away from all you smelly deckapes. I keep picturing you in a skinny black dress."

"Now I know you're off your rocker- red's my color. Hey, the Ol' Man will never sign your leave. We're in the middle of a cruise."

Chris stood. "I'm going." He turned and ducked out the hatch. Even if I have to go AWOL. He shook his head to clear it. "Don't do anything stupid, Chris." He made his way aft to find his petty officer.
 

ehbowen

Senior Member
Too much head hopping. Too obvious. The nudges should be presented as the MCs own thoughts.

"C'mon Chris. Let's get a coupla beers with the guys. It's Smitty's turn to buy."

Chris laid the book on his chest and looked up at Bruce. He sighed and started to tell the large sailor to go away, but stopped. It would be good to get off the ship. Anything to get away from the crowd and the incessant roar of the catapult and afterburners of the FA18s. Just one night, to dull the ache Robin left in his heart. Chris swung his feet out and into his boots waiting by the bunk. He bent over and began lacing them up. He'd made up his mind.

"Atta boy! Hurry up and we can all catch a taxi together!"

"The only taxi I'm catching is the COD. I'm going home on leave. I gotta get away from all you smelly deckapes. I keep picturing you in a skinny black dress."

"Now I know you're off your rocker- red's my color. Hey, the Ol' Man will never sign your leave. We're in the middle of a cruise."

Chris stood. "I'm going." He turned and ducked out the hatch. Even if I have to go AWOL. He shook his head to clear it. "Don't do anything stupid, Chris." He made his way aft to find his petty officer.

Thanks for the input. I do think that I can back off a bit, but it's important to the plot that the "possession" take place around the major characters, not within them. And, again, I want to tie this all together with the appearance of the possessor later in the story.

BTW, I'm setting this aboard the USS Enterprise during her 1986 World Cruise. Chris is going to put in for leave, and get it...but his division officer is going to tell him, "If you're not waiting on the pier in Singapore [in two weeks], it's my ass! And I swear to God that I will hunt you down myself and have you wintering over in Antarctica for the next ten years!" Chris will miss his flight (due to another 'possession' experience...bad directions when running late in the airport), but will then have an encounter with (wait for it) God Himself...although Chris won't realize that aspect for another year and a half.
 
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