In a attempt to give justification for the way people can act sometimes and how I try to implement it in a story. So kind of a rant I guess in a way?
I will be nodding towards the T.V show the 100 a lot as it's my main inspiration for the story that I'm doing.
For those who haven't watched the show, 100 teenage criminals get transported back onto Earth from a space station hundreds of years later due to a Nuclear War that left the planet completely devastated. It's basically like the Lord of the Flies but instead of a island it's the entire planet and a whole lot of teenage sex in abandoned bunkers because all the survivors are uber-horny and shit and worry more about that then finding food.
Back to the main topic though that I'm trying to push. When the 98 surviors make it out of the crash pod, one fake-guard becomes the immediate alpha dog cause his sister is all like. "Fuck you people, I've been locked up for 16 years, I'm a bad bitch so suck my clit or eat my fist.' so theyre somewhat the most intimidating people of the whole bunch.
What really confused me though was that everyone blindly followed him and his hastily made set of bodyguards, and then it turned full on lord of the flies with knife fights and shit.
But why didn't a group of people stray off from the alpha dog and make their own group? Why wasn't there a power struggle that would lead to half the survivors being dead? Why were they worried more about getting their first bang on planet Earth then finding food?
Most of you will say it's just a fucking TV show and I should stop overthinking it but stay with me.
I would have thought that me myself would have tried to start a uprising and at least defect along with others but here's some reasons to counter that reasoning.
- They didn't have a stable food supply, so defecting would had led to starvation.
-Hunting would have been hard for the defectors as most only had pocket knives.
-Someone going all Alpha mode would have made most people's asses clench in awe.
-Staying with a big group is always good, even if defecting could lead to a better outcome.
-Teens love sex and a lot of teens means a lot of sex
So when writing my characters try to get the most common sense mindset in them as I can without letting them go all Rambo and going off in the forest alone like a Mary Sue.
Would the Main Charachter stay with the large group even if it meant watching innocent people die in knife fights for breaking the rules just for the chance of being safe? Would they beat up a 13 year old when there's only a scarce supply of meat left? Would the MC get pissed that he has no harem in the population of 60 girls vs 5 guys and just start killing everyone in spite?
I came to the conclusion that I had to keep these notes in mind when Creating a Vanilla old MC that's not too heroic or Ramboish.
- Only a small percent of people can lead in a good way.
-Sometimes for there to be law and order a evil, hated person needs to take charge in order to make sacrifices that a good natured person is willing to make.
-Desperate times come desprate measures.
-To much Jealousy, Lust, and greed can turn the kindest person evil, if they see the majority have it and they don't.
Going against the herd in survival situations can be downtight sucidal at times.
- Everybody can't be saved. 1/3 out of the 100 will probably need to die as they won't change.
Anyway I may have not needed to explain this as most of you already know this or think it's common sense. But I think it's a good thing to remember when making a MC in survival situations that involve groups.
Writing this on a IPad gave me Ebola.
This reminds me of an activity my group did when I was studying drama (and re-enacting Lord of the Flies). Since we were performing with realism (as in, there isn't a lot of stylistic/abstract blocking), we made an 'in-depth character sheet' that was literally the script but with annotations. These annotations described what our character's goal was in each scene, and how he would achieve his goal. For example, Jack's long-term goal would be to rule his own tribe (the hunters) - and to help him do that he needed Piggy's glasses (to make fire). Since he wants to remain the alpha dog, however, Jack will stand at an elevated position upstage centre and be a bossy dick while shouting commands etc. Once we were done with all the annotations, each of us had a pretty good insight into the personalities, faults, merits etc. of our character. Keeping this in mind, you could apply this method to pretty much any text study (like Macbeth, To Kill a Mockingbird etc.) or your own writing to get a better sense of everyone in your story.
Anyway, I just wanted to leave my two cents here.
I think you already thought of a lot of great possibilities, but here some more I thought of.
I think you need to realise these teens just came from a (probably very) strict prison system, with rules, rituals, and orders. Some people automatically fall in line and practically follow any command issued at them (up to a point that differs for anyone). Additionally, it could very well be that the teen likes these rules and enjoys to follow them. Assuming they came from an actual violent background, they probably did not have a lot of stability in their lives. To then suddenly have a system in order can be very refreshing, including knowing what you are dealing with all the time.
Another point to consider is the type of crime the teens got thrown in jail for. Did they had one offence too many? Were they a serial killer? A gang member who willingly takes a bullet for a fellow gang member, but who murdered a rival gang in cold blood? Did they murder someone? If yes, was it premeditated or a crime pasionel, or perhaps a robbery gone wrong? Were they an accessory to the crime, or the actual perpetrator? Crimes can be done by so many different types of people, even conventionally good people (ignoring the crime).
For example, the girl who murdered her cheating boyfriend and the guy he cheated with was a member of the Chess club, ran marathons in her free time, and whose favourite subject was History. The sudden seething rage she felt was blinding, and she has never felt that way before or since. In prison she was timid and mostly kept to herself, intimidated by the more ruthless teens. However, after all that has followed after the murder, she still feels not one ounce of remorse. Oh, she feels sorry for their families and symphatises with their lose, but she does not regret the deed aside from the fact she is now incarcerated. Now she is stranded on a scarred and unfamiliar world with only a pocket knife. She can run fast, but she has never had much strength in her; Even before the blast wild animals were difficult to haunt down, and they had rifles! So, she knows she need other people, and decides for now to stick with the others. She will keep to herself and trying not to stir up any trouble in order to survive. The feeling of the pocket knife on her belt, and the thought that she can outrun most people comforts her. Okay, that might be some initial reason for her to stay with the group, what about staying? Well, they use her quickness in order to lure animals in hunting her, while in reality she leads the pray to the Ambushers, where then the Enforcers kill the animal off. She is known in the camp as withdrawn, which for other people lead to problems and usually banishment. See, the withdrawn people were seen as snobby or even them not trusting the group, and eventually were pushed out. However, she does talk about her favourite subject. Small bits of trivia here, and interesting tidbits there, and she is more known as someone who likes to keep to herself, but can share a good History story, than an outsider who is going to cause problems down the line. No one really notices she never actually tells anything about herself, and only stories from history, and she is grateful for that. At some point a guy higher up in the chain of command learns of her historic knowledge, and utilises this in order to learn more about their immediate area, for instance locations of destroyed cities that might still have valuable goods in them. This information gives her the power to slowly rise higher up, until she is in a position where she has a nice bit of power, but nothing that any higher up could get threatened by. She tries her damndest to stay in this position, even if other try to give her more power.
Okay, I got a bit carried away in that example, sorry about that. An other (shorter!) example could be the gang member. He already was raised in an environment with rules and a pecking order. He gravitates towards this, and he wants his loyal brothers who will willingly take a bullet for him around him, while they are all trying to further the goals of the gang and trying to move up within by earning their respect. Of course, he does not always realise that his brothers might not be as loyal to him as he is to them, not even in his old gang back when he was free, which will bite him in the ass at some point. If he lives, he might become incredibly cynic and ruthless, or he might become a broken man, uninterested in his fellow humans.
I might have an answer to your question why they prioritised fucking over food gathering. These teens just came from the prison system. I assume that shortly before launch they have eaten something, and that while present in the system they got meals on a regular basis. In other words, the teens are not hungry, and why care about food when you are not hungry? However, they are horny right now, and are closer to the opposing sex than they have been for a long time. So, you know. Immediate gratification versus long term thinking.
Finally, whatever you write, think of what you would do yourself. Or someone you know would do. I would have joined the group without protest, I think. Safety in numbers is a reason, but I am also not a good figther and the worst leader, so that is not really an action I would consider taking. If I do, it will definitely lead to a fight. I get killed or incapicitated. It is quite hard to hunt without any know-how when you are healthy, think of how to do it with a broken arm that cannot be set! You will most likely die. Now, these leaders could very well have shown this initial toughness in order to make sure the group stays together. They might take a bigger share of whatever gets gathered, but you are still fed as is everyone else. I would be fine with that situation. Now, it is also possible that they started good, but slowly turned for the worse. The road to hell is paved with good intentions after all. It might become so bad that everyone is slowly starving and where a simple scrap of food from the higher ups is seen as generous for certain ... services performed. Now, that is not a situation I want to find myself in, but cults exist and happen for a reason. Of course, there is always the possibility of the leaders being completely ruthless and unfair. If they are too ruthless, they will be quickly disposed of by the group because of their danger to the group, and someone else will take their place. Possibly trading one evil for another? If they are ruthless, but too powerful, then yeah, I would try to escape. But it is easier to escape succesfully when you have friends and supplies, something you do not have on the first day. So, I think it is a good idea to stay with the group, and see what will happen and plan from there.
Okay, this has become a bit long, sorry for that. But, hopefully you find it useful :)
The show itself is actually fantastic, in my opinion.