August 25, 2019, 04:50:14 PM

Author Topic: What do you think of this premise?  (Read 292 times)

Offline Eli_Freysson

What do you think of this premise?
« on: July 22, 2019, 06:14:48 PM »
I really wish I had some way to balance out my "story ideas/free time" ratio, but whatever. I have a new seedling for a different kind of fantasy story, and I'd appreciate some thoughts on it before I start to put any deep thought in.

*Ahem*

I can think of several works were those born with magical talents are either regarded as dangerous by an ignorant public, or flat out ARE dangerous, simply due to how magic works in that setting, and are either killed or imprisoned and their magic suppressed somehow.

I'm thinking of doing an entire standalone novel around that idea.

Magic manifests in random individuals around puberty, and while they can perform amazing feats they also tend to attract demons and/or go violently insane. This traditionally leads to them either being killed or imprisoned in horrible conditions. Now there's a recent effort, spearheaded by a single person, to try something new:

Mages are taken into custody, their magic suppressed, and they are held in a camp well away from civilisation. But the warden makes a very dedicated effort to be humane and treat the mages as victims of an unfortunate condition rather than as criminals. There would also be an effort to see if, with training, mages can use their powers safely through the suppressing effects, for the good of the realm.

The story would be set in the camp, starting with its initial opening, and the main character would be a strong-willed teenage mage who is less than happy about the whole thing, and whose interactions with the warden are a core element of the story.

I'm interested in doing some morality exploration here; the mages are for the most part innocent, but simply by their nature pose a potential threat to the public. And the warden tries to find a balance between enforcing discipline and not slipping into cruelty. In fact, one idea is that the warden is female, as are all the guards and the mages, specifically to prevent sexual abuse (the male mages would be a separate camp).

My current idea for the ultimate conflict would be an attempted uprising led by a mage willing to kill people for the sake of freedom, which the main character ultimately can't bring themselves to do and so sides with the guards. His/her character arc would be to accept the situation as the lesser evil, given the factors at play, and rather than rebel they would seek to work with and try to change the system from within.

What do you think?
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Offline isos81

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2019, 07:45:48 AM »
I'm always in for magic :)

This plot reminded me of Saidin from WoT a little bit. Maybe you're influenced or I'm mistaken. But I like it when people consider magic a bad thing and proven wrong or saved by magicians.
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2019, 08:16:30 AM »
This plot reminded me of Saidin from WoT a little bit. Maybe you're influenced or I'm mistaken. But I like it when people consider magic a bad thing and proven wrong or saved by magicians.

I haven't read WoT, but I know of some of its basic premises. It is one of my inspirations for this idea.

And in this particular context, magic actually IS dangerous.
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Online Magnus Hedén

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Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 10:03:26 AM »
You could call them the X-Mages!  ;D

The problematic ethics around people who are weapons is always interesting to explore, and adding some powerful immoral people to the mix makes for a fun problem without a single or simple answer. I'd definitely be interested to read it out of both of said character's perspectives. Put us in both of their shoes and make us see that neither are completely right or wrong. The warden could be a very interesting person.

Oh, and I think you should make the whole book about that, as opposed to "we're going to bring back magic and save the realm from X megathreat" etc. There's enough of that out there. I'd want to see the conclusion of the story being about the personal fates of those two main characters and their relationship, and I think you'll have something good! Of course, that'll also be very difficult to write -- but then again anything worth writing is!  :) Good luck!
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Offline Peat

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2019, 11:39:32 AM »
Would depend on how you wrote it. There's nothing jump out "Wow" about the premise, there's nothing "urgh no" about it - although I am beginning to feel a little glutted on dangerous magic/people as weapons.

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2019, 04:32:20 PM »
I like the idea. It's a good way to explore an interesting moral dilemma.

I think just by the nature of the camp you would probably end up with some guards who abuse their power, even if the warden doesn't. I'm not really thinking sexual abuse so much as bullying. You get that in pretty much any institution. Maybe that would make the mage seeking an uprising partly sympathetic, if you're going for that.

Overall, sounds like a solid premise!

Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2019, 05:03:45 PM »

The warden could be a very interesting person.

One idea I have for the warden (this is still all quite vague) is that during an argument with the protagonist s/he reveals that they are in fact a mage themselves, subjected to same suppression effect as everyone else. And that would by why s/he considers themselves best suited to running the camp.

Quote
Oh, and I think you should make the whole book about that, as opposed to "we're going to bring back magic and save the realm from X megathreat" etc. There's enough of that out there. I'd want to see the conclusion of the story being about the personal fates of those two main characters and their relationship, and I think you'll have something good!

Yeah. I think I'll set the entire story in the camp and surrounding area (aside from the first chapter as the main character is taken away), and go with the attempted uprising as a climax, just for the sake of action and stakes. I don't think I can write a novel entirely around character drama.

I like the idea. It's a good way to explore an interesting moral dilemma.

I think just by the nature of the camp you would probably end up with some guards who abuse their power, even if the warden doesn't. I'm not really thinking sexual abuse so much as bullying. You get that in pretty much any institution. Maybe that would make the mage seeking an uprising partly sympathetic, if you're going for that.

Thanks.

And yeah, no one's going to risk their life leading a violent uprising just because. And yes, bullying, individual cases at the very least, seem to be pretty much inevitable in a situation like this. And it would put the warden on an even narrower tightrope, trying to keep both the guards and the mages happy.



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Offline Bender

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2019, 03:18:30 AM »
It's a very interesting plot with lots and lots of potential for morally ambiguity and that always means a super story. As you say it's not good (warden) vs evil (mages) which should be emphasized by some personal experiences on both sides (e.g. Warden's kid was killed by a rogue mage who escaped from a different prison etc vs a mage who was hiding was caught because he helped save a kid yet the parents still turned him in)

I'd stay away from sexism angle, as it becomes stereotypical and mundane and has no potential to add to the moral dilemmas.

Iso was right about Saidin and WoT, so a different context on magic and madness is crucial.
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Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: What do you think of this premise?
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2019, 08:31:49 AM »
It's a very interesting plot with lots and lots of potential for morally ambiguity and that always means a super story. As you say it's not good (warden) vs evil (mages) which should be emphasized by some personal experiences on both sides (e.g. Warden's kid was killed by a rogue mage who escaped from a different prison etc vs a mage who was hiding was caught because he helped save a kid yet the parents still turned him in)

I was brainstorming yesterday and came up with about twenty different mages, from various walks of life, with varying attitudes to the whole thing, to explore different angles.

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I'd stay away from sexism angle, as it becomes stereotypical and mundane and has no potential to add to the moral dilemmas.

What do you mean sexism angle?
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