Non-sterotypical Relationships

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Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby sierramcconnell » 17 Nov 2010, 12:53

Okay, so in my book I have a couple relationships. I'm worried because they're not normal. I break molds a lot.

Relationship one:
Adelaide and Bradley - Girl and Guy
She's Twenty-Seven, He's Seventeen, she's known him his entire life, and they've written letters back and forth. They're in love, somewhat, and they're waiting to get married. The thing that worries me here is she's ten years older than him. Teens will probably think, EW. But she's an immortal, doesn't look her age, and is a little plump. Which is hilariously mentioned by Bradley as hot in his descriptions of her.

Relationship two:
Edward and Madchen - Guy and Girl
He's 300+ and stuck in the body of an eight year old, she's thirteen and human. He sees her simultaneously as a surrogate mother and a cohort in crime. She's a loving little psychotic mute who thinks he's her prince in disguise come to save her from the dungeons she grew up in. There's no love or romance, it's more of a partnership. A crazy protective one.

Relationship three:
Fidelis and Cael - Guy and Guy
He's a twenty-one year old human street-rat and the other guy is the twenty year old unwanted son of the main 'bad guy' who's been kept literally in the closet for most of his life. Basically his father tried to kill him twice and when that didn't work he threw him in a corner. They meet, fall in love, and it's dangerous. Fidelis is a rude, flithy whore. Honestly, it's what he does. And Cael is a quiet, sweet youth who's also rude in his own way. They are star crossed and because of what happens between them all the crap in the book happens.

But here's my problem.

I have age issues, parent\child issues, and homosexuality issues. I also have a fair amount of gore and rape, but let's not get into that just yet.

Is this going to be a problem? I tried this on another book before and someone told me I would have to adjust the ages and clean up all the homosexuality. Is that true?
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby Margo » 17 Nov 2010, 13:26

Normally, I would say it's not a problem so long as it remained age appropriate for your target audience. However, I know you're writing Christian, so I suspect that's where the homosexuality issue becomes a problem. Are there Christian publishers that have a...what's the term?...more inclusive...or less evangelical...or more sexually tolerant outlook? I'm afraid that each genre really does have certain molds you can't break and still be a part of that genre (or subgenre).

Of course, you could always go mainstream. There's nothing that says steampunk can't have religious themes in it. There's been a lot of talk about Mormon themes in Twilight, but it wasn't marketed as a Mormon paranormal just because the author is Mormon and certain related themes can be found in the work. It's pretty normal for a writer's personal beliefs on a number of topics to wind their way into a work without changing the label of the work.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby sierramcconnell » 17 Nov 2010, 13:33

Well, this recent book has become less Christian and more about just angels and Nephilim. So I think it would go more mainstream easier. XD But I still worry about the reception...
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby Steppe » 17 Nov 2010, 13:41

I think-feel that the whole premise rides or falls depending on how you handle the Fidelis's character arc.
The age difference between the 17 & 28 year olds is as close as you can cut it without it leaving the illicit love affair plot.
Both supporting teams have partners who have found someone to give and receive love with so the plot tension is invested in
Fidelis and his teaming up with Cael. In the end he either knows the difference between the light and the stars or he doesn't.
I would write it as literary fiction and adjust the nuances later when your sure where the story is going and who would enjoy it.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby Margo » 17 Nov 2010, 13:51

sierramcconnell wrote:Well, this recent book has become less Christian and more about just angels and Nephilim. So I think it would go more mainstream easier. XD But I still worry about the reception...


If you're going mainstream, I can't imagine why anyone would tell you to clean up the homosexuality. The only time I've seen homosexuality come up in spec fic reviews it was to chastise the author for having a watered down homosexual theme just to be edgy. I have read a couple of WIPs involving homosexual main characters and been fine with them. The characters are well-drawn and likeable. The homosexuality doesn't seem to be a cheap device for gaining attention. No problem.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby Moni12 » 17 Nov 2010, 14:06

Personally I usually have an issue with guys being with older women. Narrow, I know, but I'm trying to be more openminded about it because many women are with men more than 10 years older than them. A fiction example, I have read two books by Robin Mckinley (note, my experience with her is limited), but in both books the protagonist ends up with a guy 20 years older than her.
I like the uniqueness you give to your character relationships. Especially the second one and the paranormal elements that are involved in each of them. In many fantasy/urban fantasy novels when there's a really old nonhuman character they're conveniently close to the age of the love interest. One example would be Twilight. How great is it that Edward was turned at 17(?). I think it puts it in perspective that you have a 300 year old character in an 8 year old body because that's how viewers will see the character. This makes the relationship more realisitic that there are such differences between the characters.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby polymath » 17 Nov 2010, 14:30

What's given raises a gamut of questions. Main among them is, Who's the reader surrogate? The relational standing the other characters have to a reader surrogate flies or falls according to the reader surrogate's expressed commentary about them and therefore what the commentary says about the reader surrogate. Pro age disparity relationships or anti, anti or pro gay relationships, and so on, whatever the central message of the expressed commentary is and the central theme go toward the point of the novel for Unity's sake. Otherwise, an And Plot and/or Kitchen Sink Plot might be the consequence.

An And Plot is where something happens in the beginning, and something happens in the middle, and something happens in the ending, and to no coherent meaningful end. A Kitchen Sink Plot is where anything and everything imaginable happens and in no particular structural organization.

Another primary question, What's the main dramatic complication as it relates to the outcome? While not an absolute, a reader surrogate's standing to the main dramatic complication ideally has him or her or it in a main and proactive contention role with the complication.

I could see most anything goes as long as it's age appropriate genre. Young adults contend with the traumas of violence and rape, and countercultural relationships' many challenges; however, young adults have a narrower scope of life experience to draw on and therefore a narrower world view, fewer viewpoints from which to process the influences of the more extreme sides of life. Early adults come into contention with more extreme viewpoints, and older adults still more extreme.

A final primary question, What's the rating? PG? PG-14? R? MA? X? XX? XXX? Graphically depicted rape falls into the latter ratings, same with graphic violence. Relationship age disparity can be anything higher than G. R won't raise too many objections for young adult genres.

J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye falls into the R or MA ratings. Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War falls firmly in the PG-14 rating, but nonetheless is regularly challenged by moral authorities. S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders shouldn't be an R or an MA but it's treated that way by moral authorities. Cynthia Voight's Homecoming, again, shouldn't be an R or MA but moral authorities treat it that way.

Motifs of premarital or extramarital sex or graphic sex of any kind, homosexuality, graphic violence, vulgar language, single parent households, tobacco or drug or alcohol use, mental dysfunctions, criminal or rebellious conduct, and so on affect rating scale. Although there's no formal rating system for literature anymore, there's a moral authority agenda that runs one underground by a word of mouth grapevine that drives book banning in libraries and schools.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby sierramcconnell » 17 Nov 2010, 15:08

This is the most graphic it gets, with Cael and Fidelis. You kinda understand what's going on, and there are sentences for sure that need changing (especially that second one, gah, so don't beta it, this is FIRST DRAFT, UNEDITED, written at work between periods of crazy).

---

It was unfair, what he did. Cael didn’t deserve to be introduced to the world like Fidelis decided to do to him that night. But though he cried, there was a suspicion that it wasn’t for pain or for fear that the tears were welling in those dark chocolate eyes of his. Every time Fidelis attempted to redeem himself, to run, to stop his madness, Cael pulled him back into the fall.

He kissed him back. He held him. And he laughed as they stared up at the stars through the window. The world could see them, too, that night, and Cael was giving her a look of triumph and pride. As if he had finally won after so long of being the loser.

It was wrong. It was all wrong. Even as he laid holding him in his arms and watching him sleep with satisfaction, Fidelis knew it was wrong.

He shouldn’t have done it.

Several times he roused Cael, trying to tell him he was sorry and he shouldn’t have. But the smile on his face and the lilt in his voice only made Fidelis kiss his head and tell him to go back to sleep.

Everything would be better in the morning.


---

It's just to show you, it's totally not graphic. I could do graphic, I used to write that in my fanfic days. XD
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby maybegenius » 18 Nov 2010, 00:22

This isn't a question any of us can really answer out of context. If you're asking whether your story is appropriate, that depends on what sort of appropriate you mean (age appropriate? Christian appropriate?). Who's your target audience? Who are the people who would read this novel? Try not to go with the "everybody, I hope!" answer - think it over. Who are the people you want to read this? Teens? Adults? Sci-Fi/Fantasy readers? General fiction readers? Conservative readers? Knowing your audience is the first step to knowing what is and isn't appropriate.

From there, you can start answering these questions. Are these relationships okay for a teen novel? Based on the info you've provided, no, probably not. Are these relationships okay for an adult mainstream novel? Probably. None of the aforementioned relationships are much weirder than others that have been done in mainstream and speculative fiction before. I automatically thought of Claudia from Interview with the Vampire - an immortal woman forever trapped in the body of a child. Relationships between a teen and an adult are not unheard of in fiction, either. Nor is homosexuality, rape, or gore.

If I may say so, I've noticed you asking repeatedly if we think certain elements about your work are acceptable or okay. The short answer is always going to be yes - anything goes in fiction. The long answer is dependent on your audience and how you handle the content. I promise you, as unconventional or edgy as your work is, it's not going to be too messed up for fiction. I think these are questions you need to be asking yourself - WHO is your audience, and WHAT is appropriate for THAT audience? You'll have your answer.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 Nov 2010, 06:47

But we don't really know who are audience is until we get an agent. We could write, thinking we're writing for one group, and then they could come swooping in to say, "Actually..." and turn the whole thing on it's head.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby Margo » 18 Nov 2010, 08:25

sierramcconnell wrote:But we don't really know who are audience is until we get an agent. We could write, thinking we're writing for one group, and then they could come swooping in to say, "Actually..." and turn the whole thing on it's head.


Actually, yeah, you should have at last an inkling of who your target audience is. Are you reading in your genre? That should give you an idea of where your work is in relation to the other work out there. Have you checked out any genre/subgenre organizations that might be out there?
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 Nov 2010, 08:35

You can have an idea of what you want to do, but all that changes once you hand that off to someone else.

It's like, I thought for sure my first book would be targeted to people my age. People my age read it, and all of them say, "No, I think it's YA."

I write this book, and I thought for sure it would be YA-ish. And now I'm hearing the themes are too mature, so it's probably going to be more adult.

YOU can have an idea for what YOU want it to be, but that doesn't matter a lick once you get it to someone else. They package it according to what they think it is.

I write for the story that wants to be written. I don't write for genre, I don't write for people, and I don't write for word count. I'm not someone who's going to sacrifice the integrity of the story just to be "in" a certain box. I write for the characters and the story.

Unfortunately, though people tend to like the stories, that makes them hard to put in a section.

But I do read a lot of YA about angels and Nephilim. I've read an adult book about angels and Nephilim, and it's so big and filled with historical non-sense you could kill with it. I don't see how my book could be adult because it's not heavy. It's light, even if the themes are dark. The reading is not thick.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby Margo » 18 Nov 2010, 08:40

sierramcconnell wrote:I don't write for genre, I don't write for people...


Then you're basically saying you don't have a target audience beyond yourself and don't care to learn the reader expectations of the genre, which is absolutely your choice and your right to make that choice. But then why ask if it's going to be received well? You are writing from the position that the reader reception is not the point.

It looks like you're trying to have it both ways.

In for a penny, in for a pound. If you're writing a story that's telling you it must be written this way, regardless of reader expectation or genre guidelines or anything else, then do what you feel needs to be done and stop worrying about what people will think.

If you're going to intentionally write commercial fiction specifically for the purpose of getting it published and reaching the widest possible audience, then learn the expectations and write to them.

Make your choice. Be consistent. Believe in it, and to hell with the consequences.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 Nov 2010, 09:05

I guess maybe I just needed to be reminded of that. Sometimes I lose my spirit and start to falter. Then when people start to question it reminds me why I write again.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Postby polymath » 18 Nov 2010, 09:17

Outside the box novels populate literary history. They all have in common coherent, timeless, and timely relevant stories with strong emotional payoffs. If any of their authors had followed mainstream expectations, they'd never have been written. The world would be a darker place. Popular and artistically appealing novels throughout history have been challenged, banned, their authors indicted for criminal obscenity, heresy, blaspheme, immoral themes, innappropriate values, and offensive messages. What's scandalous today might not have been shocking in the past and vice versa. What's left of any consequence is a story's merits, not any of its motifs or themes or messages or morals, but its methods, aesthetics, nuances, and structure and its ability to persuade and evoke emotional responses.
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