Author Topic: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?  (Read 951 times)  

Online paranormal_kitty

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Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« on: October 11, 2017, 07:16:38 PM »
So, one of my MCs is a heart transplant survivor. He received the transplant at age 5. It was just pointed out to me that heart transplant recipients might not be able to have much, if any, caffeine. If he's drinking caffeinated beverages, is that going to bother readers? Anyone know for sure what would be realistic here? I mean, he turns into a vampire anyway and the book is about something completely not realistic...but I don't want to insult real transplant survivors by not knowing my stuff. I did know about the alcohol avoidance and medications and wrote that in.

Offline Kal241

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 07:33:55 PM »
What if he got the heart from a vampire donor, which began his transformation and rendered him immune to some of the normal transplant problems? They could write it of as a "one in a million case study" and not many would question it, and those who do find it unrealistic would go "OH! That makes sense!" upon the big reveal of the original donor being a vamp.

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 07:40:27 PM »
What if he got the heart from a vampire donor, which began his transformation and rendered him immune to some of the normal transplant problems? They could write it of as a "one in a million case study" and not many would question it, and those who do find it unrealistic would go "OH! That makes sense!" upon the big reveal of the original donor being a vamp.

That is way too much of a re-write.

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 08:01:09 PM »
IANAD, but I think caffeine is usually restricted after a heart transplant. Maybe he could have a little but not as a regular thing. Lots of sites can offer more info.

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Offline WHDean

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 08:07:02 PM »
"Hang a bell on it" and move on. Mention that drinking coffee should be killing him and forget about changing anything else.




Offline Pandorra

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 08:14:13 PM »
Pfft, do you know how many things they tell me I can't have and I do anyways?

 Most of the people living on the edge go one of two ways, 'It's my life and I need to enjoy what I can'.. or 'I will live in a cocoon and maybe add a few days/mths/yrs', I don't see why you can't throw him in the first category if he is old enough to decide for himself, throw his parents under the bus if not ;) .

I don't recall ever being offended by anything other than someone saying 'Embolisms and clots don't hurt'..
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 08:16:59 PM by Pandorra »
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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 09:10:04 PM »
My aunt was born with heart issues and had open heart surgery and chain smoked. There was nothing going to take that cigarette away from her. Sure, she died in her early forties, but she lived longer than originally expected. So let your guy drink coffee.

Offline joyceharmon

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 12:57:42 AM »
My aunt was born with heart issues and had open heart surgery and chain smoked. There was nothing going to take that cigarette away from her. Sure, she died in her early forties, but she lived longer than originally expected. So let your guy drink coffee.

Thing is, though, that coffee is very much an acquired taste. Did you or anyone you know have your very first sip of coffee and think, 'yum, I must get me more of this!'? You really have to develop a taste for it. If a person is in their thirties and already drinks coffee and then has a heart transplant, it might be hard for them to give it up. But in this case, the transplant took place when the recipient was five. And I can't picture someone having a sip of something that at first try tastes bitter and rather unpleasant, and KNOWING that it's something they shouldn't have for health reasons, would go to the trouble to get to where they liked it.
 

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 01:07:09 AM »
Thing is, though, that coffee is very much an acquired taste. Did you or anyone you know have your very first sip of coffee and think, 'yum, I must get me more of this!'? You really have to develop a taste for it. If a person is in their thirties and already drinks coffee and then has a heart transplant, it might be hard for them to give it up. But in this case, the transplant took place when the recipient was five. And I can't picture someone having a sip of something that at first try tastes bitter and rather unpleasant, and KNOWING that it's something they shouldn't have for health reasons, would go to the trouble to get to where they liked it.


Have you ever been told you couldn't have something and it made you want that thing reallly bad? Much more than you did originally.. it's human nature. People find little ways to rebel against what should be and what is. It's perfectly reasonable to assume someone would grow to an adult not having a thing and then decide arbitrarily that he wanted it just because he was told he couldn't have it. Even if he doesn't really like it.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 01:09:33 AM by Pandorra »
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Offline Vidya

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 01:44:06 AM »
So, one of my MCs is a heart transplant survivor. He received the transplant at age 5. It was just pointed out to me that heart transplant recipients might not be able to have much, if any, caffeine. If he's drinking caffeinated beverages, is that going to bother readers? Anyone know for sure what would be realistic here? I mean, he turns into a vampire anyway and the book is about something completely not realistic...but I don't want to insult real transplant survivors by not knowing my stuff. I did know about the alcohol avoidance and medications and wrote that in.

if it were me, I would have him avoid all caffeine. You could get readers who know caffeine should be avoided and who think you couldnt be bothered to research it. They might put the book down just for that reason.

Plus, if he was five, thats young enough to have his parents ensure he never tastes a caffeinated beverage. hes young enough not to get addicted. If he still drinks them, thats pretty much on his parents. 

Offline Vidya

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 01:48:50 AM »
Thing is, though, that coffee is very much an acquired taste.

So true. I don't drink tea, coffee,  any hot beverage, or alcohol. The first time I tasted all these, I thought, YUCK! And I wasnt tempted to acquire a taste for any of them.

If you know as a kid that any of these could be deadly for you, I think it would be a simple matter  to avoid them.

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 02:54:16 AM »
Couldn't he have decaf? Seems a simple fix.

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Offline anikad

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2017, 04:54:42 AM »
Couldn't he have decaf? Seems a simple fix.
Decaf contains caffeine, as some patients who were told not to drink coffee before their operations have found out to the detriment.

Offline SND

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2017, 05:15:26 AM »
When you introduce him drinking coffee for the first time, instead of peppering over the 'no caffeine for heart transplant recipients' issue just address it directly. You could say he does this as a wilful act of defiance (small though it may be), to reclaim sovereignty over his own body; to prove that he will not be enslaved to this heart and it will not completely dictate his life.

It also has a nice interwoven irony; his resenting this life-enhancing gift (heart) he was given, one that as a five year old child, he didn't ask for.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 07:20:55 AM by SND »

Online Puddleduck

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2017, 08:45:01 AM »
Could you replace the drink with something that doesn't have caffeine? If it's pop (soda), you could use one of the no caffeine types like root beer. If it's coffee, maybe you could replace it with a different hot beverage. There are teas that don't have caffeine, right? Does hot chocolate have little enough caffeine for it to work? Maybe he drinks something a bit unexpected and unusual, and it could be a sort of character quirk.

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2017, 09:11:37 AM »
If drinking caffeine isn't integral to the story, I'd just change it. Unless there's a compelling reason he does - he's acting out, etc.

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Offline VirginiaMcClain

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2017, 09:12:34 AM »
Is the book already published? Are we talking about taking it down to do the rewrite? Or are you just getting to the end of editing before publication? If it hasn't been published yet, then yes, it's definitely worth some form of rewrite even if it's just a few sentences at the first moment of caffeine consumption (in the context of the book) as some here have suggested. If it is already published, then I think it comes down to how much it's going to irk you for the rest of your life if you don't change it. Personally, I would want it addressed in some respect, but that's just me.
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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2017, 09:33:26 AM »
I just got through reading all the replies. Thanks everyone for weighing in! I like the idea of the defiant aspect, but then I would have to rewrite a lot of his back story since it's established that it was his sister's heart and he was grateful. He even tells her he tries to take care of it when he's drugged up and hallucinating a conversation with her. Ultimately, I decided to take out the coffee references since they weren't really important. I had to let him keep the mate though. It's cultural for him and there's a cute scene around it. I just have him point out that it contains mateine and not caffeine. People can just assume it doesn't bother him for whatever reason (it does affect you differently...there is research about it).

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2017, 09:42:14 AM »
As far as I can tell "mateine" is just caffeine with a different name. If it's his sister's heart, gosh, I think he'd be really obsessive about keeping it healthy, cultural teas or not.

eta: the cute scene might fall under "kill your darlings."
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 09:44:09 AM by Monique »

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Offline veinglory

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 09:45:43 AM »
As a reader I would be looking for more general realism.  Assuming your MC is a young adult he has lived 15 years with an extremely suppressed immune system which has very far-reaching effects.  When he does drink caffeine he will experience noticeable bradycardia. His kidney function is probably seriously impaired. He routinely takes powerful medications, because if he did not he will be one of the 50% of pediatric recipients who dies before adulthood. The transplanted heart reacts to things like exercise and stress in a fundamental different way for the period when it is denervated, which can effect the child's psyche in ways that effects their adult temperament.

Being a pediatric heart transplant recipient means living with a significant chronic health condition even when a person is conscientious about following all of the guidelines, if he does not do this he should be showing significant symptoms as a result. If you do not make some effort to reflect a plausible scenario most people probably won't notice, but those who do might write some reviews of a type that you do not want.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 09:47:42 AM by veinglory »
 

Offline WHDean

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 10:08:25 AM »
Don't underestimate the effectiveness of hanging a bell/lantern on it (pretty sure TV Tropes has a page on it). Basically, the technique maintains the suspension of disbelief in unbelievable situations by having characters point out how unbelievable the situation is. And it works. If you need two characters to meet accidentally on the street in a big city (highly implausible), you have one of them point out what a coincidence it is that they should run into each other in a big city. For whatever psychological reason the reader tends to ignore how implausible it is that the two should meet by accident.

My favourite example of hanging a bell/lantern is in Watchers by Dean Koontz. The story surrounds a super-intelligent dog, which is highly implausible even with the explanation that the gov't genetically engineered him. Although it turned out to be a good story, my reason for reading it was to find out how he was going to explain the dog. The short answer is that he didn't. Instead, he had the MC (who found the dog but didn't engineer him) go into a long and detailed neurological explanation of why it was not possible to breed or engineer a super-intelligent dog just after he discovered the dog's apparent super-intelligence. It worked brilliantly.

The same should work for the coffee. As long as someone points out that he shouldn't be drinking it, no one will be troubled by it.

 

Offline Vale

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2017, 10:37:26 AM »
I can't say I know a lot of people who have had heart transplants as children, but I remember them drinking Mountain Dew as teenagers. It's even more heartbreaking if it's his sister's heart. It's like having a relative die of lung cancer but being unable to give up smoking, except ramped up to a higher degree. As other people have pointed out, not being able to have something adds an allure to it. Then things like caffeine become addictive. Part of it is the chemical make-up, but part of it is the rush the character probably had the first time they snuck a sip of coffee or hot chocolate. Hanging a bell (lamp?) on it will get the job done, but it's a great opportunity for depth.

Have you ever been told you couldn't have something and it made you want that thing reallly bad? Much more than you did originally.. it's human nature. People find little ways to rebel against what should be and what is. It's perfectly reasonable to assume someone would grow to an adult not having a thing and then decide arbitrarily that he wanted it just because he was told he couldn't have it. Even if he doesn't really like it.

Every time I end up on warfarin: cranberries. Then every time I go off of it, I stop wanting cranberries. My entire desire for them seems to be based on if I can or cannot have them.

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2017, 10:40:32 AM »
The same should work for the coffee. As long as someone points out that he shouldn't be drinking it, no one will be troubled by it.

Not necessarily. If it's something the MC knows he shouldn't be doing, and the reason he continues to do it is not consistent with his established character (in this case, there's a contradiction between saying he takes really good care of the heart because it's his sister's and yet knowingly damages it by drinking coffee for what may come across to the reader as no good reason), then a lot of readers would not be satisfied with simply acknowledging the problem. That's like a man saying, "I know this is sexist, but ..." Knowing it's wrong and doing it anyway is, to a lot of us, worse than doing it without knowing/realizing it's wrong.

In this case, you'd either A) have him knowingly doing something he shouldn't or B) have someone tell him he shouldn't, and it's news to him. Scenario B brings up two issues. First, you'd have to get the audience then to believe that this basic medical information was not conveyed to him, which is really a hard sell, and then also have him change his behavior after that, or you end up back at scenario A.

The main problem is that you'd be trying to get the reader to excuse the MC acting out of character by doing nothing more than pointing out that he's acting out of character, which doesn't fly. If the scenario was that he was knowingly damaging his heart because, say, it was the heart of his estranged father who he hated, where the heart donation was his father's deathbed way of trying to reconcile, but the MC isn't emotionally ready to reconcile and resents that he's stuck needing his father's heart, then him knowingly damaging his heart would make sense and be consistent with his character. But that's not the scenario.

I agree with Monique that the cute scene may need to be cut.

"Hang a lantern on it" always makes me think of the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1, where this issue comes up. The team's reaction to this concept pretty much reflects my own feelings about it. Oh look, someone's put that scene on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMBL4rzlZjQ

IMO, lantern-hanging is almost always an excuse for lazy writing. "I don't want to be bothered to fix this problem, so I'm going to point it out and pretend that fixes everything. Move along."
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 10:49:11 AM by Puddleduck »

Offline Douglas Milewski

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2017, 10:46:19 AM »
Hanging a bell on it. Pretty much that. Every time my wife points out issues with my manuscript, I put the her words into a character's mouth. Tension added. Problem solved. I don't see it as lazy writing so much as saying to the audience, "it's not worth going there."
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 10:54:53 AM by Douglas Milewski »

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Online Monique

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Re: Is this unrealistic enough for a re-write?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2017, 10:55:47 AM »
Hanging a bell on it. Pretty much that. Every time my wife points out issues with my manuscript, I put the her words into a character's mouth. Tension added. Problem solved.

I don't think it would in this case. It would make me think he's a little selfish and maybe hypocritical if he says he takes such great care of her heart and loved her so much, etc. It's just a drink. Not *that* hard to give up for health and the memory of his sister.

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