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A reason to stay...:
Following a disaster in the city that they live in - and the possibility that something else could still happen - what would make a person with the means to leave decide to stay there? For reasons of plot I need to have my characters stay and I don't want to throw in something out of the blue like a typhoon that sinks all the ships in the harbor and a roving gang of highwaymen that murder all overland travelers. In fantasy we always seem to need something outlandish to justify things. "I'm not leaving because this is my home" doesn't stack up well against "I can't leave because the warlock lords placed a curse on me that will destroy my soul if I set foot outside the city." It's sort of odd that some people will accept the fantastic, but not human oddity and stubbornness. Anyway, the city in my story went through a riot caused by the unleashing of a menagerie of monsters. A couple of these monsters are still running around killing people. So if the same thing happened in the place you live would you stay or would you flee? And why?
My teacher's a pandaI would believe a person would just stay simply because it's there home and have no other place to go. It's a sort of "Go down with our ship" mentality. When there was a hurricane in my hometown a couple of years ago and everyone was told to evacuate, there were some people who chose to stay and weather the storm. They got on the news. And their only justification was "This is our home". Of course, me and my family left for safety as quickly as possible. The type of people who choose to stay are seen as stubborn and lacking in common sense. So for a character to have the same reasoning, it would help if that character had those same traits. It takes a special kind of person to willingly stay in a place with danger. Maybe they're over sentimental, treating their home like a person and wanting to stay to try to protect it. Maybe they have a friend or relative who's stuck in their home, because they're too sickly to be moved safely, and the character wants to stay for them. Maybe the character is just in denial that there is any danger at all, or truly believes that the danger has passed and nothing else can possibly go wrong. Or maybe the character is trying to prove himself, believing that if he runs from danger, than that makes him a coward.
I agree, 'I want to stay' would be a perfectly acceptable justification to me, as long as it was presented believably. Obviously I'd flee if it happened here, because I can't fight monsters. If I was a badass that could fight monsters, that might be a different story - I might stick around to guard the place for others who are stuck, or to warn visitors away, or I might just enjoy the solitude. Otherwise though, is it necessary that the character has the means to leave? They could be old or injured, or have nowhere else to go, or it could be more dangerous to make a run for it than to stay holed up.
freakin' metalThis motivation won't work for every one of your characters, but one might have been waiting for the chance to fight some monsters their whole life. I've got a buddy who's a weird combination of D&D player, martial artist, and weapons buff; I'm fairly confident that given the chance to play Silent Hill in real life, he wouldn't pass it up for the world. Granted, he would likely get killed, and probably knows this; but as he would put it, "You die in battle, you go to Valhalla. You die in battle with the dragon, you go to Valhalla premium. Oorah!" Don'y know how appealing writing a character who views Beowulf as a role model is to you, but if you've got an idea of the personality type I mean, maybe you can adapt it somewhat?
Another TL:DR post.
I don't know if I can call it plot-induced stupidity or not, but I've made the more intelligent of the pair of characters say that they should stay, although she thinks that it may not be the smartest thing in the world. The added benefit of everything taking place in an era where everyone was more into honor - to the extent of dueling to the death over insults - may help me a bit. This is a thing I've criticized writers for before so I hate to be a hypocrite and establish my characters as intelligent only to have them do stupid things that come back to bite them later. Of course real people who are intelligent do stupid crap too. I read the account of why one relatively wealthy man stayed in New York City after 9/11 and it links up with the reason my character gave, but that was only one guy's opinion.
Pronounced YAK-you-lussOne very easy answer - one or more of their friends/loved ones are still missing after the catastrophe, and they want to find out what happened to them, even if they have to search them out themselves.
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