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Story about ghosts. Need help.:

Insert witty title here
Need some thoughts on a story about ghosts I'm writing. Not critique yet, even though I intend to hunt for a beta later.

Al is a medium, and has had some problems with his powers. Namely, his biological parents were terrified of him and his sister, and eventually abandoned them. Al and his sister were eventually adopted by a woman who took pity on them (didn't decide wheter she's a medium or not).

But Al's sister died, and he started to wonder why her spirit didn't stick around. Combine his childhood with people being scared of him and thinking he was creepy, and Al became a bit uneasy towards people and started to hope to meet other mediums like him, so he would feel less like a freak. He felt the need to help ghosts in trouble, though, but would always suffer after they moved on (or became wraiths due to being in the world of the living for longer than they should).

Al eventually meets a spirit named Simas. Simas would be a pain in the ass to help, because he simply forgot how he died. This because he changed his mind about not having anything to do in the world of the living at the last minute. Transferring between realms isn't unlike an update, so Simas became not unlike corrupted data. Simas and Al became fairly close.

One day, a boy named Michael appeared. Ghosts can only be seen by medium, or those they have unfinished business with. Michael told Al and Simas he never met Simas before, and both Al and Simas assumed he was a medium. A second ghost appears, and Michael starts to act uneasy. Michael lied about never having met Simas before: the two used to be friends, but had a huge fight not long before Simas drowned. Michael tried to save him, but failed.

Simas was a rather depressed person in life, mainly because he was in a position and situation not unlike Al's (but Simas had healing powers). Michael decided it would be better if Simas didn't remember his past at all, so he would be happier, unaware Simas would turn into a wraith if stayed in the world of the living for too long.

As for their personalities: Simas: emotional, usually cheerful, can be a bit of a troll, can be a bit snarky, jumps into conclusions, really sucks at lying and dissimulating emotions. Michael: Helpful, kind, usually cheerful (is faking, though), can be unpredictable, can be stubborn and overly emotional. Al: Helpful, kind-hearted, comes off as a jerk but really isn't, complains a lot, tries to keep his emotions in check, tries to be strong, has an enormous abandonment complex.

Some problems with this:

- Should Michael be another medium, or he can be lying about also being able to see ghosts? If he's lying, another ghost is a part of the story, so Al and Simas would find out soon enough.

- Would it be too assholish for Michael if he were lying about being a medium?

edited 24th Sep '12 10:23:54 PM by risingdreams

 2 Voltech 44, Wed, 26th Sep '12 9:42:30 AM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
All right, let's see if I can lend a hand...

  • Regarding the first question, I think that Michael being a medium can go either way. On the one hand, his experiences as a medium can be markedly different from Al's, and there's plenty of room for conflict/thematic significance based on their interactions. On the other hand, it seems like Al's experiences as a medium — the isolation that he likely feels because of his powers — is an important element, and you can develop his character in different ways than if there were two (or more) mediums.

So how about this: what if Michael was a medium, but it was only implied? The story would leave clues here and there to suggest what Michael really was, but even by story's end Al doesn't put the pieces together (though Simas could). That way, Al could learn to overcome his issues in his own right, and realize that he can decide his lot in life on his own terms. Well, that's just an idea, so use it as you see fit.

  • As for your second question...well, it seems like a no-brainer for Al to hide being a medium. I mean, think about it — if people knew you could talk to the dead (and believed you), wouldn't they constantly grill you to use your power for their own ends? Admittedly his power is one that could be used for good, like helping people connect with their dead family members, or solving crimes that the police couldn't on their own. On the other hand, if he helps one person, he might become obligated to help lots of people. He could end up with fame and recognition he might not want, and people in droves would make use of his powers with no thought of Al's well-being. Or maybe some malcontents might drag him into a lab and start studying him.

Basically, there a lot of ways for being a revealed medium to go wrong, and I'd understand if Al wanted to keep his power a secret. On the other hand, if he DID reveal himself more openly, can you imagine what sort of conflicts — and excitement — it might bring to the story?

Well, I hope that helped out out a bit. If there's anything else I can do, just let me know. When it comes to ghosts, I think I've got a handle on them...as the resident writer of a story filled with ghost-punching.
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