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Concerning the Cliche of Time Travel

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:12 pm
Dynamo says...



I have a bit of a situation. The story I'm writing is fantasy based, but I've had the idea of adding some sort of time travel sub-plot kicking around in my head for the longest time.

Here is the premise of my idea: In my story world there are five immortal beings called Reapers. No one knows where they came from, or even what they are, but they have been appearing in the world from time to time ever since civilization first began, and everytime they do they kill someone, or something. They all hold strange magical powers, and some of them weild weapons unlike anything the people of that timeframe have ever whitnessed.

The truth behind the Reapers: They are actually human beings from far into the future, each from different timeframes (modern times, mediaval times, futuristic times with fighting robots, etc.) who have been blessed with a strange power by a legendary sword. They became agents that work for five powerful beings that reside in a plan of existance after the universe is destroyed, and through this sword they are able to communicate with these beings. They use the power of the sword to transport themselves from their own time to the timeframe of my story in order to take out certain key targets in an attempt to prevent catastrophic events from taking place.

In the first series of my books they sometimes come after the main character and try to kill him, but in the second series where the main character turns evil and the new main character is his son, the son finds this legendary sword and rips a hole in the space-time continueum that thrusts him into modern times, where he meets one of the Reapers before he ever became one. But, through his actions the person comes in contact with the legendary sword and gains his Reaper powers.


My question is, with the use of proper foreshadowing would I be able to stick a time-travel plot into a fantasy setting, or do you think the whole idea of time travel would make everything convoluted and confusing? I know in the past lots of people got upset when franchises tried to retcon themselves by plunking the main protagonist from the past into the future or introduced aliens or something. This is especially true for movies from the 90's, such as the Highlander and Beastmaster series, and this caused nothing but rage within their fans. I don't want to introduce the concept of time travel into my story if it's going to ruin the story in anyway, yet at the same time the opportunity to bring it in is presenting itself so clearly that I can't get it out of my head. I need to know if I should or shouldn't do it before introducing the Reapers in the second book, and I was hoping I could get some feedback from all of you. Should I do the time travel thing, or should I stick to the fantasy plot and focus on the world's current history and setting?
Last edited by Dynamo on Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:13 pm
SubjectBlue says...



I usually am confused by time traveling, but it's up to you, I have ny own time travel idea, but it won't fit in your case.
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:25 pm
EloquentDragon says...



....
Okay, wow.
First off, the whole "Sword of time" thing or whatever is really cheesy. Do you really need a sword? How about something more original, like, maybe a cheese grater? (Okay, just kidding.) What I'm trying to say is that another retread of the "magical and strange talisman that grants powers" plot is kinda old, you can do much better. Now, ripping a hole in time? That’s cool, I like that idea. You're just going to have to work hard to keep everything original.

Also, that is going to take a lot of tracking/plotting to keep everything consistent. Also, if the "reapers" jump in and out of time at random intervals, wouldn't that mess up history? And what if they accidentally killed one of their ancestors? :shock:
Good luck with keeping everything on track!

Now, on to your question... what do you mean? Your MAIN plot, as far as I can see, involves time travel. In fact, you could say that you don't have a plot without time travel. The only thing I can suggest, based off of my assumptions, is to not have time travel "into" the future be in the mix. It's much too confusing, and terribly outdated.

But then again, I'm not sure what you are trying to ask... could you rephrase?
Last edited by EloquentDragon on Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:00 pm
Dynamo says...



I'm just trying to guage what people would think of such a plot device, and based on your reaction alone Dragon I can already tell that I might get a few negative reactions from my prospective readers if I were to go ahead with it. So I think I'm just going to stick with the fantasy setting. Thanks for your input.

By the way, I'm one of those nuts who believes time is unchanging, meaning if someone were to travel back in time and kill someone there would be no paradoxes as a result because that person in the past had already been killed by the person who travelled back in time before that person was ever born. This way it would be impossible for the reapers to kill one of their ancestors, simply because the very fact that they exist in the first place means that they didn't. Kinda detracts from the concept of free will, but that's just my take on time travel.

Anyway, thanks again. You may have very well saved me from losing a lot of my future fan-base. :D
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Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:09 pm
Kyllorac says...



I'd say it depends on the execution.

From the sounds of things, you have the time-travel as an integral part of the plot from the very beginning. The reason why the franchises you mentioned garnered such a negative reaction from their fanbases is because the time-travel aspect was shoehorned in as a sort of "Oops. We fudged things up/wrote ourselves into a corner and we need an easy way out. Let's use time travel!"

So long as it's present from the beginning and is developed consistently throughout the work, I see no issues with incorporating time-travel.
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Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:33 pm
Dynamo says...



I guess I should go into a little more detail with my idea. The time travel isn't really a main plot focus, at least not in the beginning anyway. In fact, it's not even an issue in the first saga of books I'm going to be writing. The sword in question is basically a vessel of power taken from a being that reportedly created the universe and shows up on the planet every ten-thousand years or so to try and destroy everything, when the entire world is embroiled with conflict and strife. I figured, if this sword has the power of a being that created the universe, then giving it the ability of splitting a tear in the space-time continuum wouldn't be that much of a streatch.

The main focus of the plot in the first set of books is the main character trying to unite the world under a banner of piece by using this sword to become an avatar of sorts, in order to stop the being that wants to destroy the world from being summoned. But throughout the series he also has to fight against his own nature, not only as a user of dark magic, but also his urges of bloodlust. It would take too long for me to explain in this post why, so please just take my word for it.

Anyway, once he succeeds at bringing peace to the world his dark desires finally take control and he starts running amuck around the world to the point where his actions threaten to summon the being who will destroy the planet, despite his past efforts.

The second series of books follow the actions of the son, who tries to track down his father and wrestle the sword of ultimate power away from him. During the final conflict with his father the sword somehow opens a tear in the space-time continuum that thrusts both of them in the future, which leads to the son and father fighting each other with the past and future versions of the same sword.

The Reapers are sort of my idea of forshadowing this event. In the first series they try to kill the main character before he could gain enough power to become a threat in order to prevent him from running amuck. Before the event that thrusts both characters into the future one of the Reapers goes out of his way to protect the son during one of his confrontations with his father, despite their continued efforts to kill the father in the previous series. This Reaper is the one that the son meets in the future and ends up causing him to gain his Reaper powers.

I hope this clears things up a little bit. I'm still not sure if I'm going to go through with it, but I know I won't have to worry about it until at least the second book.
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Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:54 pm
Balaczter says...



Sounds like a good plot to me.
However, you may want to reconsider the name 'Reaper', as similar time-travelling beings that were bent on killing everyone in the world once a time-paradox was created were in Doctor Who. (It might bring up a few copyright issues, yada yada. However your Reapers seem different, as in they're, I assume, human or humanoid, not brown dragon things with scythes for tails. And I'm also guilty of using the name Reaper for a human sub-species in my piece of literature. >_____> )
Anyway... the sword idea really does sound cheesy, especially since it 'created the universe' and every 'ten thousand years' it pops up again and tries to destroy it. That in itself is a bit contradictory... how can any living being hope to destroy or pacify something that created the universe they live in? Perhaps there should be a parallel object that had the power to neutralize its 'rival' - however, it brings up more and more cliches. Up to you.
That's slightly off topic when I come to think. Ugh.
ANYWAY back to the Reapers again. If you suddenly throw them in as a plot device in the second book, then readers might think you used them, as Kyllorac said, an easy escape for the plot.
If you drop hints of the Reapers in the first book - throw the name in a few times, maybe even let the main character see one of them - then it'll show that you have kept them as an integral part of the running plotline for the series. And readers like seeing hints of the next book in its prequel. Keeps them guessing. It'll still be a little cliche-ish but shows you put thought into it.
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Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:31 pm
Dynamo says...



That's what I was planning, to have the Reapers show up from time to time and try to kill the main character.

Although the more I talk about it the more unsure I become that it's a good idea. With this story I hope to establish a franchise of fantasy books, and despite how well I might pull it off I'm unsure of how people might react to the whole time-travel thing.
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:09 pm
fading-dream says...



My honest opinion, and that's all I can give, is don't go with the time travel aspect if you can avoid it. It brings up many questions and inconsistencies. Unless you can make it completely unique and interesting, I'd avoid it. Actually, most of your plot sounds pretty cliche' and just screams "Bleach" to me (that anime when there are Reapers who are humans turned into them, plus special swords that give magical powers). However, if your reapers/characters are all really developed and unique, any plot can work. If you really have a passion for it, then go for it.

Another concern is do you have enough plot to warrant a whole series? If you haven't written and completed at least one novel, it's probably best not to attempt something so grand. You might have better luck with just one book in the series.

However, I wish you luck. One final question: If you can't change the past, what's the point in travelling back in time?

BTW I really like the fact that specific people are being targeted and killed, just make sure they all have a connection.
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:22 pm
Dynamo says...



What's the point of going back in time if you can't change the past? There is none. If a person from the future knows they would go back in time but couldn't change something, they still have to go back in time because the act of their time travel has already happened in history. Whether they can change anything or not is irrelevant, because their actions have already been determined. That's how I view time travel at least. It's a theory that renders universe destroying paradoxes impossible.

Thanks for your advice. It's still too early to tell which way I'm going to go with it, but it's good to know these kinds of things beforehand.
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:25 pm
Rosey Unicorn says...



You're looking at a stable time loop, then. All of history has been charted out and the future is the way it is because the future made itself (in essence).
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:29 pm
Dynamo says...



Something like that, yes. Hmm, a stable time loop, I'll have to remember that...
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:44 pm
Rosey Unicorn says...



It's from TV Tropes, if you want to attempt going on that site without losing 3 hours looking things up. :P
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:51 pm
shadowraiki says...



Have you read The Saga of Darren Shan? Essentially the entire saga revolves around the fact that destiny has already determined the course of events. The example they use is perfect: if you kill Hitler, someone else will take his place. You may want to think about that some. Also, keep in mind that although the outcome could be the same, the actions in between could be influenced. For example, in WW2, instead of dropping to two atom bombs, America could have invaded Japan instead.

As for Reapers, I instantly though Mass Effect and the Grim Reaper.
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:57 pm
Dynamo says...



When I thought of the name Reapers I was thinking more towards this story's version of the Grim Reaper, except there's five of them
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