Can’t Think of an Interesting Title For This One…

The title page of my original English 225 Paper
The title page of my original English 225 Paper

So my repurposing project is taking an academic paper I wrote last year and trying to turn it into a short story. The paper was an ethical analysis of the ticking time-bomb scenario, whether it could be considered ethical to torture a suspect given that a nuclear bomb is known to be loose in a major city. I first lay out the con argument – that torture is unethical always even in the most extreme of scenarios. I then proceed to give the pro argument, rebutting every point of the first one. I conclude that torture, in the situation, could be considered ethical, as it is the least unethical option. The consequences of not torturing (bomb goes boom) are far greater than of torturing one individual. Sorry if you’re really bored by this, but I’ve laid out a somewhat in-depth summary because my main challenge in the project is to somehow retain this fundamental argument in a fictional short story.

Here is part of the abstract from my original paper and what I expect to become the main plot of the story:

“A nuclear bomb is loose in New York City. CIA Agents do not know the location of the bomb; however they have just captured a leader of the organization planning the attack. Furthermore, they have strong reason to believe this man has knowledge of the bomb’s location. They offer deals of money and immunity, but the man is not swayed; he will not talk. As it stands, a nuclear bomb will go off in the heart of New York – killing millions of Americans in the process. The question: what’s their next move?”

I'm going for a 24-like scene in terms of the drama and suspense.  I guess I'll have to channel my inner Jack Bauer.
I’m going for a 24-like scene in terms of the drama and suspense. I guess I’ll have to channel my inner Jack Bauer…

As far as how far along I am, I’ll be honest and admit I haven’t even started writing yet. When I’m writing fiction, I kind of like to just get in the zone and write as much as I can in one sitting. Since this is only a short story, I think I’ll just go to the library or lock myself in my room one day and knock it out, however long that might take. Questions…I’ve played around with the idea of not naming the characters. I’m thinking this might highlight the ethical dilemma more and not make it about the characters, which is something I definitely want. What do you guys think of this idea? Anyway, I think it’ll come out pretty well but I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out.

4 thoughts to “Can’t Think of an Interesting Title For This One…”

  1. Jeff,

    24 is my favorite show, so if you can create a similar drama into your short story, it will be the greatest thing ever. I really look forward to reading it!

    As for your question, I do think it’ll be helpful to name the characters because it is a short story and if a rwader gets confused, it’s not hard for them to put the story down and stop reading. If you want to give the names of the actual people an alias, this would portray an intense story and rid of any ethical dilemma.

  2. Jeff,

    Like Jason, 24 is my favorite show. So even if your short story comes close to its intensity, it’ll be a success. To answer your question, I actually think it would be really cool to not give your characters names (as long as the reader knows who you’re talking about). In the show “The Wire,” the producers/writers/directors etc. made it clear that they wanted the show to focus on Baltimore as a system and not the individual characters (although, they named the characters). If this is what you’re going for, I think having no names would be really cool.

    Hopefully I’ll get the chance to read the story because this is one of my favorite topics to learn about!

  3. Jeff,

    I agree with both Jason and Emily. I know that doesn’t seem very helpful…

    I think if you can write the story without names and still make it understandable, that would be a great idea. Readers would definitely focus more on the dilemma than the characters. Not using names also makes the dilemma and its resolution relevant to humanity in general and not just the specific people in the story (Because who even are they? They don’t have names…). What should people as a collective do in a situation like this?

    But like Jason said, if the story emerges as too confusing without names, that point will be lost anyway. In that case, I would go back and add names.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  4. Hey Jeff. I guess I’ll just hop in and join the debate. I’m on Jason’s side with this one, but for a different reason. While I agree that characters without names could easily get confusing for a reader, there are ways to work around that. However I think the main issue that comes about when you don’t give a character a name is it’s a little dehumanizing, which could take away from the point you want to make about “ethical” decisions. For instance, I think your suspect should have a name so that your audience can acknowledge that he/she is a “real” person, and that the consequences of torturing him/her have a “real” impact.

    I don’t know if any of what I’m typing is making sense. I sure hope so. I’ll be interested to know what you decide to do!

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