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I got a very general idea the other day for a story plot, which can be summed up like this:

An ordinary, well-respected man is going about his day and accidentally discovers some kind of unbelievable talent or power within himself. He is alone at this time, but once he realizes what has happened, he immediately seeks out anyone who will listen so he can show them his amazing ability. The problem is, he does not know exactly how he did it, or what about his situation at the time of discovery caused the event to occur, and therefore cannot reproduce the event. In his uncontrollable excitement, he essentially destroys his reputation and drives away all who were close to him. He tells only the truth, and yet he is nothing more than a liar to all who have never experienced anything unexplainable. Even the superstitious avoid him because what he proclaims makes no sense in accordance with their own crazy beliefs. There is no redemption for our ever-honest protagonist, who wastes the rest of his miserable life trying to find even one person who will believe him.

I have always thought it would be really cool to write a story inspired by music, and this was definitely inspired by the 11-minute experimental rock epic Rosetta Stoned by TOOL. The lyrics are essentially about a psychedelic junkie who is telling an emergency ward doctor the story of a crazy LSD trip during which he believes he uncovered some earth-shattering truth (apparently a common experience during a trip), but he can't remember what the voices in his head told him ("...and I forgot my pen!"). He says notably,

"You believe me, don't you? / Please believe what I just said / See, the dead ain't touring / and this wasn't all in my head."

Except it was all in his head, as opposed to our protagonist, which makes the situation all the more pitiful. He's like a tragic hero in a way, a paragon of honesty and a pillar of faith in himself. But his tragic flaw is his attention-seeking behaviour and possibly his unwillingness to give up and make amends for the damage he's done. It's a statement about martyrdom (I disagree with organized religion), and it's a statement about unwillingness to believe. It's also personally relevant, as I often embarrass myself in social settings or feel as though I am an annoyance to others, and sometimes I think about whether or not I would fare better if people treated me like they would treat a crazy person.

Has this idea been famously used before? If so, is there any way to spin it so that it would be original enough? Or is it completely unsalvageable?

  • youtu.be/6wd_6Y0wQOA This is the only time I have personally seen a plot like this – MingD14 Apr 18 at 22:22
  • @MingD14 Oh my god, I'm so glad you didn't show the title because that was an excellent surprise. I remember watching that as a kid, maybe that was a subconscious inspiration lol – Micah Windsor Apr 18 at 22:36
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I haven't read anything quite like it in genre fiction, but there are some literary authors who write existential stuff like that. Mostly Chinese and Japanese... Murakami writes like that... Strange, half-dream surreal stuff...

Steppenwolf is probably the closest I can think of to what you're describing. It's probably the most famous one that I've read at least.

I'd say give Steppenwolf (by Herman Hesse) a read and go from there. Read some of the more popular ones, that's the only way you'll really get a sense of where you'd want to fit.

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    Steppenwolf sounds like a great read, might have to look into that. Thanks for the thoughtful answer! – Micah Windsor Apr 18 at 20:53

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