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Hi Fellas!! I need your valuable assistance with a character. The son of my protagonist is a fourteen year old singer. The script calls for something tragic to happen to him to make him stop singing/talking, which causes a rift in an already strained family. After they learn to deal with this and other things, it makes them closer than they've ever been. I don't want him to get beaten up by gang members (unless there's a new and exciting way for that to happen). I'm toying with the idea of some sort of cancer or something. The script is almost completed, just a few holes where this info would go. Please help!! I would be eternally grateful!!!
Maybe, he could witness the murder of a family member or a close friend. You could have it as though there is a lot of pressure on the family to get him to speak.
I posted an answer for you on the chaski board. I hope it helps.
Sheila, He's singin' in the garage practicing with the members of a band and as he's hittin' a high note a tone deaf Africanized Killer Bee flies into his esophagus and stings his left vocal cord causing it to swell and prevent him from using the other chords. Huh? Huh? huh/ Have fun with it, no thanks needed! Love, Peace, Pleasure, D.G.
Tracy, I thought about that one and I'm still playing with it. But check thhis out. The original plot I started out with was having him get in an argument with a tough guy friend of his brothers and having this sicko rape him. Then he stops singing and talking and his family doesn't know why. It tears them further apart until they find out what happens, then the healing begins. Is this too drastic? Guys?
...The rape thing sounds really drastic.
I wouldn't go there unless you want to make a statement about rape...
Heard of Meatloaf? I'm sure you have. His first record ever became an unbeliveable success, and following that success, the studios put a lot of pressure on him to perform to the same standards, and it terrified him. He developed a mental block to singing; he could physically do it, but was terrified of failure...he worked through the fear in a few years, but it was almost a decade before he could convince studios to let him produce an album. "I Would Do Anything For Love" came from that second album. This is probably more than you wanted to know, but his biography immediately sprang to mind when I read the question you posed.
I immediately thought of the psychosomatic aspects as well-perhaps his girlfriend is the one who gets raped-or even his best friend..or he tries to protect his best friend in a fight and gets punched in the throat..all depends on whether you want him to be a character inducing sympathy from the viewer. Are his dreams of singing dashed forever or just temporarily? That should give you a clue on how serious to make the problem and outcome. Isn't it odd how we can tell someone else how to write..good luck!
I'm in agreement, raping the kid is too drastic, but what do I know. However, if you chose to use this, the plot seems familiar to
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS.
The girl in the story became speechless after the her rape.
chose = choose
I'm with the idea of having him witness a rape or robbery and have him try and stop it. In the process he's shot in throat or something like that. If he gets hurt helping someone else, I'd feel for him.
Cases of psychological blindness and muteness have been recorded after witnessing something horrible and traumatic. It doesn't have to be a rape or murder.
Some kind of natural disaster like bodies poking out of a collapsed building, an airline crash like the Valu-Jet crash, or an act of terrorism to name a few...
The removal of the thyroid (due to cancer) can cause damage to the vocal cords. I had my thyroid out due to cancer, and my voice is fine; ironically, a friend of my husband's also had his thyroid out and suffered some vocal damage ... and he's a professional singer!
Happily, thyroid cancer has the highest survival rate of any cancer ... about 90%.
If you decide to go with this option, I would be happy to email you off the board to give more details about treatment, etc.
What kind of singer is he? Rap? Pop? Country? Reggae? Polka?
Why not have the singer get stabbed with a broken beer bottle in the appropriate (bad spelling?) area of the neck while on stage singing? Or his tongue bitten off like in that episode of MTV's Real World?
Your 14 year old is at a party where he ridicules and heckles a hypnotist in the middle of his act. Later, in an effort to get even, the hypnotist uses his skill to take away the thing that is most important in your protagonist's life, his voice. No one is aware of this event except the audience. Now the hypnotist can suddenly leave the picture (get killed in a freak accident, for example) and the audience is left wondering if the poor kid will ever get his voice back. Just a thought.
I think the most important question is what someone else already asked.
Is his voice lost for good or is it temporary?
If it's for good, make it a freak accident. Maybe something like a hidden piece of glass from a broken bottle flies out from the lawnmower when he stoops to pick up the parts of the bottle he sees.
If it's temporary, make it something than has a relatively simple solution. Maybe he loses his voice, goes in to see a specialist, and the doctor find nodes on his vocal cords. But they end up being removed and they weren't cancer after all.
You could use that to build suspense too.
Let us know what you finally decide on!
As long as the young man doesn't have to recover his speech...
"The surgeon with the shaky hand severed her right recurrent laryngeal nerve during excision and investigation of what turned out to be a *benign* tumor of her thyroid gland." How's that for tragic error. Right recurrent laryngeal nerve is the anatomical term for the nerve that controls the voice box. The surgeon could have made the mistake because he did not do a complete dissection and identification of the nerves and other tissues of the neck before he started mucking around with a knife or a pair of dissecting scissors.
A good friend of mine had this surgery in 1974 and gave specific instructions to the surgeon that he was not to cut that nerve because he made a living as a lecturer.
If you need something that is reversible, you could go for some form of an extreme vocal nodules. They are a reversible problem due to inappropriate use of the larynx.
I was thinking of something exactly like that! After deciding not to let him get raped. I do want him to regain his voice, but basically be afraid of using it again after this happens to him. But his regaining is important to my ending. Please e-mail me at
with any info. I was about to hit the library or visit a couple of doctor's offices! This will save me a lot of time. He's a 14 year old R&B singer, by the way. Gospel and soft ballads. He's going to sing at his aunt's wedding at the end.
Thanks to everybody for their wonderful suggestions!! Keep posting! Maybe a better idea will come along, huh?
I just emailed you lots of details about thyroid cancer -- let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more questions, etc.
That final scene sounds great! Keep us updated on your progress.
Wow! So many ideas...which are all very good. Perhaps if I had a little more to work with. What exactly is your characters Lacking life lesson? What is his drive? His fears? Perhaps a plot line a little less drastic than rape, or the face of death due to cancer would make a better appeal. If there are family problems, maybe you could build on that. The possible fear of failure...the possibility of him being "insane" in a Beethovan, Mozart kind of way. Perhaps there is a drive in him which he can't access to because of the external and internal problems he is having. Maybe he sees the music as an outlet, something he can conquer without the help of his family, and for some reason, maybe the pressure of the business, the pressure of possible failure drives him out of his realm. A traumatic experience would work, but seems to predictable with the ones chosen. Decide on the concept you want to bring out inthe film...Rape, Cancer, Humility...Manic depression, rehab...maybe the night he got his first deal with an agency he was out with his brother or girlfriend(another important character in his life) things get a little out of control and someone dies. (Od's, etc.) What does he do now? He's not only got family problems, but now has the responsibilty of losing someone he loved due to his choices, whatever they may be. Add a twist. If this is going to be a tradegy, however, he can't come to grips with his insecurities...he has to be blinded by them. there's a lot you could do with this. Good luck!!! Madison
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