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Thanks for all the helpful plot hole-filling tips you all gave me last week. I've given it a lot of thought since then and I've decided I may be too close to the problem to be sure of the solution. 


If you have a minute, I’d appreciate your opinion.


Here’s the deal. For reasons I won’t bore you with right now, my main character in Waking up Jack Thunder is a shy scientist named Bobby Newton, who gets the brain patterns of a comatose CIA agent, Jack Thunder, stuck inside his head. 


Through no fault of his own, he’s forced to go on the run from both the CIA and an international drug lord. His only help comes from Thunder himself, who appears at his side in the form of a cantankerous, ghostly apparition, created by Bobby’s sub-conscious. Something which only Bobby can see and hear.


Part way through the first draft, I realized it would be a lot more fun if Thunder’s helpful holograph was to disappear sometimes - especially when Bobby found himself in a truly desperate situation.


From a story point of view, I’m delighted with the results, but I need a plausible reason for Thunder’s intermittent disappearances, the final one lasting almost an entire day. I thought I had it sorted, but I’m not sure it isn’t an oval shaped peg for a round hole. 


My current explanation is that the CIA stuck an organic gps device in Bobby’s arm (he unwittingly signed papers agreeing to this). It’s powered by the tiny electrical current human bodies generate, but only becomes active when a particular signal frequency is broadcast. 


Whenever the tracking frequency is broadcast, it ‘blocks’ the Thunder signal. 


This would also prove useful in the sequel, when I want Bobby to have control over Thunder’s appearances by way of a remote control.


Bearing in mind the story revolves around Bobby sharing his head with the brain patterns of a comatose secret agent, does the gps explanation sound plausible or is it too silly?


If you don't think it flies, do you have any thoughts on how I can have Thunder’s holograph disappear in (most) of the high-stress situations poor Bobby finds himself in?


Any and all suggestions are welcomed. 


Thanks in advance for your help. 

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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
Interesting idea. Sounds like QUANTUM LEAP meets CHUCK. I am not that great at science (doesn't stop me from writing science fiction) but this sounds like a radio question. You have this phrase:

"only becomes active when a particular signal frequency is broadcast"

so, if this is how the CIA tries to track him, wouldn't they broadcast that signal all the time? Or are you saying that it's broadcast all the time, but it's only when he gets in range that they can track him? I do think you need to establish what is meant by "broadcast"-- radio waves, cell phone signals, what.

Aug. 20th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the input :)

My thinking was that a tracking device would be more useful (and less detectable by an enemy) if it only 'broadcast' when you wanted it to, as opposed to a regular gps, which broadcasts all the time.

The explanation for Thunder's intermittent disappearances has ended up as an info dump in the last chapter, which is why I'm trying to simplify it. If I can explain things in a couple of sentences, all the better.

Aug. 20th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
My initial thought is the 'fight or flight' scenario...

...if you witness people in an emergency, they shut down all of their 'masks', as it were - all the editing that goes on in day to day life, in creating their persona that everyone sees. Put them in an emergency, and all of that editing skill goes away, and you see the true person. (See the teachings of Shan-Yu that Niska talks about in 'War Stories' in Firefly...I'm fairly sure you mentioned being a fellow browncoat, so that's a cultural reference I feel safe in making!)

Could it be that the parts of the brain that allow him to register this 'holographic' version of Jack shut down while he's in fight or flight mode, and only resurfaces when he's in a less stressful situation?
Aug. 20th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion :)

I'd toyed with the idea of stress somehow affecting Bobby's sub-conscious and blocking the signal, but I'd really like to have a way for him to end up with a way to switch Thunder off at will at the end of the first book.

PS: Niska = one of the best bad guys ever :)
Aug. 20th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking the same as black faery -- but what about on Jack's side. Perhaps when Jack has moments of reaching consciousness, Bobby loses his signal. Perhaps Bobby's stress level triggers higher activity in Jack's brain bringing him closer to consciousness and away from Bobby?
Aug. 20th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's a thought. I'd need to think of a way to block the signal in the future, but I like the idea that it's a two way connection with Thunder's actual body.

I'll have to go through my notes to see how much explaining I need to do, but it sounds promising.

Thanks for sharing. If I end up using your suggestion, I'll be sure and thank you on the dedication page, if and when I sell the book :)
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Aug. 20th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 20th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Aug. 20th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<a [...] flux</a>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

Needs <a href="http://www.theonion.com/content/news/sci_fi_writer_attributes"Quantum Flux</a>, if you ask me. :)

Or one of the suggestions above. Either way. S'fine, really.
Aug. 20th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Sorry Lon, I got a weird error message on your entry. What was that link again?
(no subject) - lonfiction - Aug. 20th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 20th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
If the hologram is originating from Bobby's subconscious, then I would totally believe it if the high-stress itself blocked out reception of the signal from Thunder. This could also prove a plot line in that Bobby is trying to better his reactions in high stress situations, trying to get a handle on his mental control. Not only is this better for his secret agent-type performance, but it could help to save his life in these situations by allowing the hologram to come through and provide guidance. That would be my initial reaction. I'm sure I could come up with something more exotic if I tried, but I find this scenario the most likely.
Aug. 20th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah. The thing is, he's not a secret agent, or even the secret agent type - which is why it's so much fun to put him on the run and then drop him in it by having Thunder disappear just when he'd be the most useful :)

At the end of the book, he does get recruited, mostly because he has Jack Thunder stuck in his head.

I'm definitely coming round to the idea of dealing with this as two seperate problems: why he disappears at the wrong moments, and how Bobby can switch him off in the future.

Thanks for the input :)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 20th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
It's a good idea, but there are times when he would definitely be stressed and Thunder is still there :(

Thanks, though :)
Aug. 20th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
You could throw in a stray Buddhist monk to teach him some biofeedback techniques. They can control their own brain waves by meditating, apparently.
Aug. 20th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Ah, the old stray Buddhist monk ploy. I suppose it could work, but I'm hoping for something more straightforward :)
Aug. 20th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
To me it seems your idea would work. Others here had some good suggestions, but yeah, if you need to be able to control it somehow ... What in your idea are you doubting? Is it to do with what someone said about the CIA not turning off the gps ever? If the holograph is subject to this kind of intervention--turning on and off the gps--the there would be a randomness to him losing it (until he learns how to control it). Will that randomness work without it seeming like a convenient plot device? (I think it would if handled right; I'm just asking your thoughts.)

Aug. 20th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
I think it's part the contrivedness (if that's even a word) of it that concerns me, but also, explaining it without doing an info dump (which is what I currently have) :)
Aug. 20th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
I don't really understand the gps thing...but hey, we are suspending belief here already...so it isn't a stretch to do it a little more :0)
Aug. 20th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Hehe, true, very true :)
Aug. 20th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes, those info dumps. It is a complicated thing. Hmm... I'm glad it's you trying to figure it out :)
Aug. 20th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Lol. Thanks a lot :P
Aug. 20th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
I really, really like the suggestions about stress filled situations causing the disappearance of Jack Thunder. Are you sure you want to go with something outside of himself to control Jack Thunder?


What if the brain patterns are actually emitted by an implanted device and are not part of Bobby's own brain waves. Then when the tracking device is activated it interupts the frequency of the Jack Thunder implant. And poof...JT disappears.

Whoever implanted the device was unaware that Bobby would also be tracked or it just never occured to them that it would be a problem. You know, one department didn't communicate with the other.
Aug. 20th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your input, Aaron :)

Trouble is, if I go with the stress trigger, I'll have a bunch of 'hang on, surely he was stressed when this happened, but Thunder didn't vanish then' type plot holes to work around, and I'd really like to avoid that :(

Sadly, any signal interference would have to be by fortunate (or unfortunate) coincidence.

(no subject) - brni - Aug. 21st, 2009 03:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 21st, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jjschwabach - Aug. 20th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Aug. 21st, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
I think it could work.
Aug. 20th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) How's the open-fridge cooling system working out?
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Aug. 20th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
This is probably not much help but it reminds me of RA Salvatore's Drizzt series where his panther (oh my gosh, I'm so embarrassed, I've forgotten its name!! Ahhhhhhhh) can only be with him on this plane for certain amounts of time before he has to go and recover. (oh my gosh that name is going to drive me nuts, wait...Gwenyver or something..oh please someone tell me!!) Perhaps it could be as simple as a limited time of existence or something..
Aug. 21st, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
I don't know the Drizzt series, so I can't help on the panther's name ;)

The problem with a limited existence would be explaining how Thunder disappears at irregular intervals.

Thanks for the suggestion though :)
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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