1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Broken Family

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Killer300, May 25, 2011.

    Okay, this is a plot that I came about from fusing together three short stories, two of which I've posted already. I may actually attempt to write it almost entirely in dialogue because it would sort the story's theme, and provides an interesting perspective.
    The story is about a family who moves to a small town from a middle sized American city, not sure which one yet. The move turns into the biggest disaster to every strike the family, putting them into debt, causing their daughter to go from angel to drug addict in three months, and their son to engage in a sexual relationship with his 36 year old English teacher, who intiated it yes but wouldn't have had it not been for some interesting circumstances caused by the move. The family doesn't move out for a year because the parents are in denial over the failure of the trip, which the main purpose of was to distance their kids from the, "bad crowd," in the city they left. By the time they leave, their daughter has almost killed herself from a drug overdose, and their son has severely deterioted in social ability, the relationship in the long run has a destructive effect on him because he is reliant on the teacher.

    Okay, do you think it's plausible for parents to go into denial like this? If you are a parent, do you think you would go into denial over it? What would you do if you suddenly found out your child was having such a relationship with a teacher?

    For more of a writing question, is it a good idea to fuse together short stories, or does it usually end in failure? Very curious about that.
     
  2. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I definitely think it's possible for the parents to go into denial, to hope that they've just hit a 'rough patch' and it will all 'smooth out' eventually once everyone's settled in. I've fused together short stories myself, and it works out well for me. You can't fuse them choppily, you have to interweave the beginning of one and the ending of another.
     
  3. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    Everything but the student-teacher affair is completely realistic.

    I grew up in an "idyllic" small town.

    Adults in denial about drug addition, or even the presence of drugs in their pretty little town? Absolutely. Especially newcomers from more urban areas, who associate "drugs" with "inner city".

    Deteriorating social skills? In a small town, you have many fewer social options. It's less of a find-your-crowd, and more of a either-you-fit-in-or-you-don't. Say he found he didn't fit in, tried to fit in and had it backfire, tried again and had it backfire worse, maybe another round or two of this, before he gives up and decides that he doesn't give a damn, doesn't need anyone, and **** all of you. (or, continues flailing with his increasingly futile attempts to fit in). Either way, deteriorating social skills are completely realistic.

    The affair with the teacher is going to be much more difficult to make convincing. What's the teacher's motive, knowing that if they get caught, their career, reputation, and life-as-they've-known-it are over? The social, legal, and professional consequences of getting caught having an affair with an underage student are utterly catastrophic and irreversible. How necessary a part of the story is that bit? Because that's going to take a lot of work to make believable. (And even harder to make it believable without shifting focus away from the family and making the story primarily a character study of the teacher).
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Very necessary, mainly because it symbolizes the complete failure the move is, which is to try to isolate their children from the, "bad crowd," which they later find out is like trying to hide children from the real world, not only does it not work, but it's extremely unhealthy. One of the things the parents especially try to do is hide their children from the reality of sex, and over the course of the book both experience far more sex than they would've otherwise, also of the very type their parents were trying to prevent. For the guy, it's the affair, for the girl, it's getting drugs with her body.

    The affair happens for a... combination of complicated reasons. Part of it is because the teacher's husband died recently, and she has been looking for a way to move on. The boy looks very similar to him, causing a psychological reaction that makes her think, sort of, that it's him. This actually does happen, although usually it's with siblings of the dead person in question, and psychology like that can cause people to do VERY irrational things. Another part is that she's extremely lonely, and wants physical intimacy, even if that means with someone she really shouldn't perhaps. Finally, their relationship is a self feeding cycle. The more they partake in it, the more dependent they become on each other, and the more intimate the relationship becomes. It starts as just the kid staying after class for a few minutes, then it progresses a little bit more each day, and at the three weeks mark, he comes over to her house. Things pick up from there. Eventually, by the time the parents find out, the relationship is far out of control, and far past the point where it could be easily ceased by both parties.

    It doesn't take over the story mainly because this whole affair isn't known to the parents until 9 months in, where it has progressed to a level that is dangerous for both. The son is overly dependent on the teacher for any social ability, while the teacher is overly dependent on him for emotional support. The parents won't turn them in, it would damage their son to such a level that it would probably put him in a mental hospital for the rest of his life. They can't just ask for an end to the relationship, it has progressed too far at this point, and the teacher has become vital to his everyday functioning. If they move, he may get over it because he would go back to the place he misses so heavily, however he will still be forever effected by this relationship. How does it end? I don't know, maybe a suicide attempt. Over all, the relationship is shown as a bizarrely natural consquence of them moving there. If they hadn't, than his social skills would've developed normally.
     
  5. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    Other than the student/teacher affair, I love the premise. But from my point of view, the teacher-student affair detracts from it.

    For me, this would work better if the affair was with someone other than the teacher. Maybe a fellow student a couple grades older? I would be so distracted wondering what the hell the teacher was thinking, it would take focus away from the kids and the family.

    For me? Only if you put so much focus on showing these reasons that the story became more about the teacher than about the kids and their family.

    But it's not my story, and in the end, it's not what I think that matters. :cool:.
     
  6. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    You made an excellent point, and I would actually be willing to at this point change it from a teacher, however I'm not sure to what. The older student, maybe, but the problem is that there has to be a very special reason the guy gets into the relationship. He isn't exactly incredibly social to begin with, the parents think moving them there would improve his social skills when quite the opposite happens. However, you do make an excellent point that it would distract from the teacher to focus that heavily on the teacher.
    Something else I should mention about the story is that in the last part the family's real mother, instead of their step mother who is actually behind the move in the first place, comes to them. What does she do? Well, basically she gives the step mother a choice. Either go back to where you moved from, or have both your step children in jail for the rest of their lives. Their real mother is not exactly the picture of modern parenting, she left her kids when they were born, has dabbled in drugs before, and currently writes erotica for a living. However, she is a better mother still than the step mom, even though the step mom follows all the advice in parenting guides and is raised in a ,"conservative," family.
     
  7. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    .

    Edited (Again), because after re-reading it, some things had been coming across very differently than what I meant

    The teacher-student affair is damaging to the teacher for external reasons (legal, professional, social) and to the student for internal/psychological reasons (the psychological effects of the breach of the trusted-adult position; it's a form of emotional abuse.).

    That's a gross over-simplification, obviously. But anything I could say about here would be.

    There are lots of kinds of relationships that could be psychologically damaging. A relationship between two students the same age could be emotionally (or even physically) abusive -- and (compared to a student-teacher affair) the adults are a lot less likely to notice before things get really bad (especially if the boy was the victim of the abuse -- people are more likely to notice when it's the other way around). Or it could be mutually dysfunctional in other ways without being abusive.

    So there are quite a few ways a student-student relationship could be every bit as (or even more) dangerous and damaging than a student-teacher affair. It would be more subtle, but (by my imperfect reckoning :cool:) that subtlety makes stronger, and fit better with the theme/premise. (And keep the focus on the kids)

    While on the one hand, I like the good-mother-who-seems-bad and the bad-mother-who-seems-good, on the other, I think that's a completely different story than the one you're telling here (bear with me on this)

    I get the idea that the focus of the story is supposed to be on the teens, and how the negative impact the well-intentioned meddling from the adults had.

    But having the good-mother / bad-mother makes it more about the adults than about the kids-- the stepmother's parenting style, world view, and issues vs. the birthmother's parenting style, world view, and issues. In that story, the kids' primary purpose is to illustrate the effects of the parental viewpoints. Nothing wrong with focusing on the adults, it's just a very different story than one focusing on the kids.

    With one parent / set of parents (who are imperfect, but doing their best, and not clearly right/wrong) the focus stays on the kids, and how trying to shelter them too much is having the opposite effect.

    Both are potentially good stories. But not precisely the same story.

    I know it seems like I'm splitting hairs here. Maybe I am. :p

    Edited yet again to add essentially, I'm seeing them as two different themes that reinforce each other philosophically, yet clash & compete narratively if that makes any sense. But of course, there's always the possibility that I'm missing the point entirely. I've been known to do that ;)
     
  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I think idea is sound and the only thing I disagree with is the thought that the teacher/son affair is damaging or distracting to the story. It doesn't have to be. That depends only on how you write it and I think it's plausible and believable. Are we under the impression that this doesn't happen? That there are no female pedophiles? You don't mention how old the son is, but it's really not important either. I don't think you need to change it. That's just my opinion, though.
     
  9. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    The focus is on the entire family, not just the teens. The teens have a major effect, yes, but the focus is on how this entire family is ripped apart by good intentions and denial. The father, for example, ends the story as a workaholic with a developing problem with alcohol. He finds himself staying at work in order to avoid a situation at home that is falling apart because he couldn't stand up to his new wife. The step-mother is having each of the values she grew up with ripped apart right in front of her. Absistence? Each teen is having more and more dangerous sexual relations to satisfy some need. The daughter in order to get drugs, another thing ripped apart, and a son who wants someone to need him.
    The son is actually a case I need to elaborate it looks like. Okay, he was starting to do okay socially in the place they used to live but then, when they moved, his social skills rapidly deterioated. He can barely order his own food, much less carry on a complex relationship, which is actually why no one suspects it. A guy like him having sex at all is less likely than me getting a book published on the very first try. Yet, either a teacher or a student finds him oddly attractive.
    Now, if it's a student, she would be a Student Council President who is seemingly the perfect picture of a student, getting straight A+s with athletics and community service, yet she hides a VERY dark side. She does help him with his social side, and it appears to be a great relationship for him. But then... things get very complicated. They have a progressively more sexual relationship, until it eventually results in her getting pregnant. While this happens, their relationship becomes more and more dysfunctional. They become far too dependent on each other for emotional and social stability in every day life. This would show another fake side. She APPEARS to be of the good crowd. In reality? She's more dangerous than many people they think are.

    Speaking of which, the daughter has a friend at the old place, who's in her twenties, is a recovering drug addict, and is one of those weird artist types. Despite this, she provides better emotional support for the daughter than both her parents can, and eventually coaxes her out of drugs. She does this without some corny intervention, or without drugs to help the daughter quit the drugs. She does this mainly by understanding but also showing VERY tough love when she needs to. Does she have to cold turkey her? Yes. Is that dangerous? Of course. But does it work here? Oh yes.
     
  10. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Okay. Well I don't see a problem with anything you've said. So.... get to it. Just write it. Validation no longer needed I would think. One person thinks it should be another student, one thinks it should be the teacher, you're still having to decide for yourself :p I think you'll be fine. Everything sounds alright to me.
     
  11. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Thanks. Well, I have a whole summer ahead of me soon to write it. I can cross that bridge when I get there. I have two people saying that the concept is realistic, which is one of the main things I need. Now, if I can just get my dialogue better, and I should be set.
     
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  12. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    It sounds like it's gonna be seriously awesome. Good luck with the writing, I know you'll do well! :)
     
  13. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    I've realized throughout writing and re-writing this that the story is primarily about a war if you will between the children and the stepmother. The daughter will later do drugs to not only gain social status, but also to rebel against her stepmother. The same goes for the son, but he proceeds differently, in that he goes more inwards rather than outwards to fight his stepmother. It's the war between them that eventually tears the family apart in a way that is irreversible.
     

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