You don’t need to answer this but I want to thank you for taking the time to walk me through the kidnapping thing! actually, it’s the kidnapper’s girlfriend, not the victim’s, who’s there who the kidnapper is avoiding to kill (it’s a complicated situation… and pronouns can be confusing sometimes sorry), but the situation is sort of like a Taken thing, where there is a system in place but it’s opportunistic. thanks so much though! sorry for all of the dumb questions I’m so embarrassed

Don’t be. What you’re doing right now is learning how to think, how to feel, how to plot, and how to plan from a perspective that is not your own. It’s a difficult thing to learn to see through the eyes of a career criminal because what they are willing to do and what you may be willing to do in real life are (quite literally) world’s apart. It’s fine if it doesn’t come naturally (and also fine for those out there whom it does). It is an important concept to start grasping and sometimes you need some help.

But since this is your antagonist and your antagonist (not your hero) is the backbone of the story through which all the actions revolve around, it’s important that those actions make sense and more importantly that they ring true to shared human experience. For someone who has never had to think this way, it can be very uncomfortable.

It’s also worth noting that while the kidnappers in Taken are opportunistic, their decision to take the girls is not a random snatch and grab. The tell comes from the handsome young man at the airport, who is the acting forward scout perusing and befriending potential victims (in this case young women traveling alone in a foreign country), when one of the girls gives him the address of where she’s staying and admits that they will be alone (in hopes of some vacation sex), their fate is sealed. The girls are identified and the kidnapping is planned in advance.

There are a few primary factors for why these girls were chosen:

1) They were naive enough to give away the place they were staying to a complete stranger.

2) They were traveling alone in a foreign country and because of that, it would be more difficult for the police to search for them as no one knows who they are and they are already busy enough dealing with local crimes.

3) There were no obvious signs of protection (in this case, due to the kidnapper’s religion and background, men) and because the family they were staying with was out of town, it was likely that no one would notice if they went missing until the girls were already across several borders.

All these things, information the man at the airport charms out of one of the girls, is the logic behind for their kidnapping and the setup for what’s going to happen in the story. The movie isn’t exactly coy about how one thing leads to another, but I also understand how that could be easy to miss as it’s not spelled out. (We do see the man at the airport chatting up another woman and playing the same gag when Liam Neeson jumps him for information.) If any of these things had been out of place or the girls in question had simply not fallen for the man at the airport’s charms, then the kidnapping would not have occurred. If Liam Neeson’s character had been traveling with the girls at the time, the kidnapping would not have occurred. But he wasn’t there and at the time, in the minds of the kidnappers, the threats he gave were empty ones because he was in a different country.

A career criminal doesn’t waste time and energy on unknown quantities if they don’t have to and they don’t usually have to. An airport is a logical place to scout for targets of a kidnapping and if those girls hadn’t fit the bill then there would have been several hundred others getting off different planes who might have made for good targets.

The most important skill you will ever develop as a writer is learning to identify and show to the reader: why these people? Why them? Why now? It’s not enough that the reason just be that they are your characters, there needs to be an underlying logic that works both in context of the overarching narrative and jives with the person (in this case the kidnapper) who is making the decisions. If you want your characters to come alive, then they have to seem human (or relateable) and we do that through human behavior. This particular logic isn’t savory and it’s a little difficult to develop, but you’re only just beginning. Through practice and dedication, you will improve and you were brave enough to ask the questions to begin with which is a sign of courage all on it’s own. Inexperience is not stupidity, don’t be afraid to make mistakes.