#1 Posted by dr_nefarious (1605 posts) -

So, I'm writing a script about a young man, Michael, who goes to a psychiatrist, Alice. He sees Alice because he has issues with depression and anxiety. His anxiety and depression have been off the roof. This is because of the fact that he just recently moved to a new area and he has these two odd neighbors, Mr. Murray and Mr. Suthers. Alice prescribes medications for him. She warns Michael that one of the side effects of the medications is that it can cause hallucinations if the patient doesn't receive enough sleep. Michael thanks Alice and heads home. He immediately goes to bed. He wakes up and starts to notice strange things with his neighbors. Such as, him seeing Mr.Murray's reflection in his bathroom mirror and Mr. Suthers looking at him through his blinds. He goes back to Alice a week later and reveals to her about what he has been dealing with. Alice assures Michael that he is just delusional and that he needs to focus on getting more sleep. Michael agrees and heads home. Things start to escalate, and towards the end, Michael realizes that his neighbor, Mr. Murray really is out to get him.

Now, here are a few things that I want to incorporate but don't know how:

  • I want to show a connection, somehow, between Alice and Mr.Murray.
  • Alice is the head of the operation here. She poisoned Michael, causing him to hallucinate. She then left the rest for her partner in crime, Mr.Murray, to finish.
#2 Posted by SexyToad (2739 posts) -

Ooooh,

Well, I notice that his 'symptoms' wouldn't actually warrant some medication. At least, in my opinion. So Alice, she could be pushy on it, and insists he takes it.

Then next, its time to build a connection. I think, it should be by blood. Michael could be creeped out so much, he searches his house which reveals photo of her. and I think you can handle the rest from here?

#3 Edited by mlarrabee (2760 posts) -

The connection between Alice and Murray most likely must come after Michael goes to Alice. The odds are against Michael just happening to choose the psychiatrist who is in league with Michael's new neighbors. It's possible that Michael heard about Alice from Murray and Suthers, but he probably wouldn't take advice about mental health from people he finds odd.

#4 Edited by yinstarrunner (1171 posts) -

I think the question you're looking for is "why?" Why murder poor Michael? Is it personal, or are they just psychotic? Why go through all the trouble of poisoning him instead of killing him outright? Maybe there's some sort of sado-sexual or voyeuristic undertones going on? Maybe she just can't stand not being in control? Does Alice do this to each one of her patients? If so, how does she hide suspicion? Why does she have someone else do the dirty work for her? Is Murray just a mook or is he complicit in the planning of the murders?

Get into the minds of your villians and a lot of it should just fall into place. Make sure you have good background information on each one of your characters, like important things that happened to them in their past. This information doesn't even need to surface in the story, but it WILL make writing it much, much easier.

If you want Michael to find out the truth in a dramatic way, you can use that classic trope where he breaks into the suspicious person's house and finds even more than he bargained for. It's also an easy way to build tension: "Oh my god, he's pulling in the driveway!"

Really, though, you've got a good outline of what you want to do. Time to really work on those characters. If you flesh them out enough, things will start clicking into place almost subconsciously. At least, that's how it works for me.

#5 Edited by Mechanical_Ape (221 posts) -

Creating a connection between two otherwise unconnected characters without making it feel forced is always a challenge. Maybe during one of his sessions with the doctor Michael reveals something (he's rich/has something important/inadvertantly did something bad to Alice in the past without knowing it was her/etc), which causes Alice to set the events in motion by getting the other men to move into the vacant place next door. Deciding on a motive or goal for the characters should help you fit the pieces in place. Characters are often the driving force behind good stories.

#6 Posted by TheHT (10288 posts) -

Maybe Alice took on Mr. Murray as a patient a while ago and saw an opportunity when Michael entered the situation? Maybe Murray talked to Alice about Michael and she put an ad for her services in the apartment lobby? Lured him in.

The big question is why are they out to get him. Money? Maybe in the end they don't have it in for him, and all of the connections and strange occurances are indicative of something more seriously wrong with Michael's mental state. Dunno where you want to go with it.

#7 Posted by dr_nefarious (1605 posts) -

The connection between Alice and Murray most likely must come after Michael goes to Alice. The odds are against Michael just happening to choose the psychiatrist who is in league with Michael's new neighbors. It's possible that Michael heard about Alice from Murray and Suthers, but he probably wouldn't take advice about mental health from people he finds odd.

Well, that's the thing, I guess I should have mentioned that Mr.Murray's character, though odd, is genuinely friendly to Michael (at least Michael thinks). Later on, Mr.Murray invites Michael over to, let's say, watch a football game. Michael has already had small convos with Mr.Murray prior to this so he already starts to feel more comfortable around him and then opens up about his anxiety and depression. Mr.Murray sympathizes with Michael and refers him to Alice. Mr.Murray explains how Alice helped him work through his divorce. Michael agrees and contacts Alice.

#8 Posted by PandaBear (1264 posts) -

@sexytoad said:

Ooooh,

Well, I notice that his 'symptoms' wouldn't actually warrant some medication. At least, in my opinion. So Alice, she could be pushy on it, and insists he takes it.

Then next, its time to build a connection. I think, it should be by blood. Michael could be creeped out so much, he searches his house which reveals photo of her. and I think you can handle the rest from here?

Yeah, it's these little details that trip up people.

Also when someone dies and it's expected they died from poisoning chances are there'll be an autopsy and a toxicology report. Then an investigation into what he was on and where he got them from.

Then there's the question of how did he find Alice? Was he referred to her by a GP? Does what's her medical history. Is the work pro-bono? If not, Michael has money. And why would he be so depressed he needs pills because he moved house? One thing that bugs me is weak leads in thrillers... they need to want to live and more importantly we have to want them too as well.

Hope that helps. I'm no expert... just my two cents really.