Trying to make sure an element is consistent

DAgent

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I'm working on a piece where every thing but the people are frozen in a moment of time without being aware they are but a lot of equipment they have doesn't work. It's just occurred to me, how consistent I might be being with it and I'm wondering what everyone thinks.

For example, the characters try to turn lights in the room on, they won't turn on, same with TVs, radios, cars, computers, trying to use old landline phones and so on. Even clockwork clocks won't work showing the time they stopped at. Even fires for all they may be lit aren't giving off heat or burning anything, and fridges are not making any noises even thought they are clearly plugged in.

But then I realised I needed someone to try to lock and unlock doors, and while unlocked doors and windows still open, I got to wondering, if clockwork doesn't work, would an old fashion lock and key mechanism not work as well? And if it does still work would that mean you'd be able to at least change the time on the clockwork watch, if not actually get it working again?
 

paranoid marvin

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I suppose you could physically force something to work; if you punch a wall there's a dent, if you turn a key in order for a lock tumbler to drop (or whatever) then it will open. Plugging in a fridge or tv doesn't actually do anything.

Your world sounds a little like Stephen King's The Langoliers. You may get some answers to your questions from the short story , or rather longer 2 part tv movie (which is actually not too bad).

And good luck with your story.
 

DAgent

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I suppose you could physically force something to work; if you punch a wall there's a dent, if you turn a key in order for a lock tumbler to drop (or whatever) then it will open. Plugging in a fridge or tv doesn't actually do anything.

Your world sounds a little like Stephen King's The Langoliers. You may get some answers to your questions from the short story , or rather longer 2 part tv movie (which is actually not too bad).

And good luck with your story.
I saw who your profile was and thought to myself "God it has been too long since Roland Rat was on TV! I wonder what Erroll would be running these days if not VT" :D

Thanks for the tips, will look up Langolliers ASAP.
 

Venusian Broon

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Just some thoughts on this senario ;), If time has frozen everything (apart from the bodies and minds of the people, I presume) - i.e. fires can't give off heat you state....

- How does air circulate? And more importantly if someone stayed in the same spot they would potentially run out of oxygen, as CO2 would build up just outside your mouth, as air couldn't move or diffuse outside the body (?). They would have to move around like sharks to breath fresh oxygen.
- How can they communicate? As soon as they try to speak the sound waves created by their vocal chords would be frozen in time in the air.
- What about light? If a fire can't give off heat (which is infra-red EM radiation) then that should happen to visible light as well. Then what they see is just dependent on what position they are in. In fact they wouldn't be able to see each other move at all. It would be pretty chaotic!

I am probably overthinking it to the nth degree...but you asked what I thought :)

Is it just 'selective magic'? Y'know, just 'freezes' certain things, instead of impacting all time? (Then you could do anything!)
 

msstice

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It's a cool idea. Fact is, that having broken time itself, you are allowed to make up whatever rules you want. Perhaps time starts for anything a person touches. So the air, the locks etc. work when someone touches them, but then freezes afterwards. This is something the people could find out by experimenting.

But this is your story! You have to discover it!
 

DAgent

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Just some thoughts on this senario ;), If time has frozen everything (apart from the bodies and minds of the people, I presume) - i.e. fires can't give off heat you state....

- How does air circulate? And more importantly if someone stayed in the same spot they would potentially run out of oxygen, as CO2 would build up just outside your mouth, as air couldn't move or diffuse outside the body (?). They would have to move around like sharks to breath fresh oxygen.
- How can they communicate? As soon as they try to speak the sound waves created by their vocal chords would be frozen in time in the air.
- What about light? If a fire can't give off heat (which is infra-red EM radiation) then that should happen to visible light as well. Then what they see is just dependent on what position they are in. In fact they wouldn't be able to see each other move at all. It would be pretty chaotic!

I am probably overthinking it to the nth degree...but you asked what I thought :)

Is it just 'selective magic'? Y'know, just 'freezes' certain things, instead of impacting all time? (Then you could do anything!)
That's actually the kind of thing I was wondering about, I just didn't want to list every example I had came up with because I was sure there had to be even more, and then that would have just been me listing off every thing I had worried about. Fro example there's no running water so toilets won't flush and taps won't let water flow out of their faucets.

But I hadn't thought about the air they breathe :D

As far as daylight for example is concerned I'm thinking the light they would see would be more like the light captured in a photograph, so it's more like the "memory" of daylight rather than the real thing. That same logic might extend to things like the fire in the fireplace not giving off heat but is giving off light, and might explain light bulbs being on or off and not able to change.

But it wouldn't explain the air issue. That one I am going to need to think about a bit unless I want to go down the "selective magic route". I can't even say that they'd be able to breathe because they'd be touching the air with their bodies all the time and somehow bringing it to life from that physical contact because that rule would have to apply to anything else they touch, which would mean watches would work.

So you gave me food for thought which is what I needed as well :D
 

Wayne Mack

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I think that you need to define a rule set as to what is possible and what is precluded. Perhaps, only freeze solid matter. This would allow people to move through air and drink water, etc. Consider whether people can manipulate solid objects; if time change is set to zero, the energy required to move an object becomes infinite. If people cannot manipulate solid object, though, the story becomes a locked room drama. Does gravity still work without the passage of time? Could someone walk off the top of a building and not fall (with the risk, of course, that once time restarts, the person would plunge to his or her death). Would someone need to pull themselves down to descend a staircase?

Another option would be to have time slowed down (or have the people's time sped up tremendously). This might make moving through air feel like walking through a thick gel. Faucets may be turned on, but water would only slowly seep out. Gravity would still act, but the people would only slowly float downwards.

There will invariably be some inconsistencies with the proposed scenario. The key is to identify some key constraints and present those well, then keep the plot and characters interesting enough that the readers do not have time to dwell on the impossibilities.
 

WSDuffy

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If you are an outliner, my advice would be to outline the things you want/need your characters to do. That should give you a good list of "stuff that works" vs. "stuff that doesn't work" which should allow you to reverse engineer the "rules" of your time stop place. If you are more of a discovery writer, I would try to make the learning of the characters explicit and guiding for you. As they figure out what works and what doesn't, you will, and the moments of discovery will be exciting for the reader. It also may help paper over any potential inconsistencies, which I think is inevitable because of the sheer number of factors that come into play in a time-stop scenario. From the design you are showing, it seems to me like the main characters are in "time bubbles" in which the world directly connected to them moves but not things distant from them. I.E. TV doesn't work because turning on a TV does nothing unless electricity and signals get to the TV from a distance, but a door handle only needs the action of the direct contact. Toilets however would not work, and I'm not sure how you'd get around talking about that. Maybe their digestive system is also frozen?
 

tinkerdan

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This just made me think of a scenario.

Derk turned sharply as the room seemed to shimmer like Jello before everyone came to a complete stop, frozen.
He quickly glanced at his watch then waited a minute to confirm before exclaiming, "DXXn; I'm out of time again."
 

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