1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Theme Drug addict working in a strip joint too cliche'?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Alesia, Dec 29, 2013.

    If they are not actually a stripper? My thoughts are she would be a bartender. The uniform is just a black halter top and upper thigh length cut-off jean shorts, and all they do is mix & serve drinks - no sexual favors and she never takes her clothes off. Is just the general environment still too cliche' in that instance given the MC is a chronic heroin abuser?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    1. Ideas cannot be cliche.
    2. Drug addiction is a problem in every stratum of society, and in every possible kind of workplace.

    Your biases are showing. :)
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you think in stereotypes, your writing will be stereotypical (or cliche), regardless of the particular story idea.
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Stereotypes exist because they are real and expected to stay true.

    Of course the human quality won't always be of a high standard in some dinky strip joint. Lowlifes are expected.
    It's wrong to assume they are all like that but a drug addict or two keeps things real.

    If there is zero drug users in the entire join then.. wow :p
     
  5. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Her friend who used to be a cocktail waitress (who is clean BTW) got her the job. She doesn't really associate with the strippers or know much about their backgrounds. She does however keep up with who is using and who's not. It's just common sense since she may need them to score a hit sometime or get a new connection if her dealer gets busted, etc... Might be fun to throw a suspected undercover cop poking around in there too.
     
  6. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    It all boils down to two things:

    Does it read as natural and interesting? Does the protagonist display characteristics that the reader identifies with enough to care.

    In other words, does the writing entertain and make the reader want to keep turning the pages, page-by-page.

    Based on what I've read of your workshop postings you have the chops to do that, so go for it.
     
  7. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    It's only mentioned in passing initially. Her sister is narrating and refers to her as a "strung-out stripper." But that's merely her impression: Sister works in a gentleman's club, she must be stripping to support her habit. It's not til later, when the POV shifts to the other sister that you find out that she isn't actually a stripper, and even finds bartending there somewhat degrading. (Even though she's not above a brief "peep-show" for extra tips when it suits her.)
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    So what you are really exposing in the course of the novel is the narrator's preconceptions, set against a detailed enough picture that the reader can draw different conclusions. Narrators can be unreliable. There is nothing wrong with that.
     
  9. PBrady
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    PBrady Active Member

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    From my limited knowledge of strippers (referred to elsewhere) none of them were drug addicts.

    From my limited knowledge of drug addicts, many would be too unreliable to hold down a job.
    Having said that, there are many people who can keep up good steady jobs while being addicted to heroin or similiar.

    Presumably you are being specific about what type of drug the character is addicted to rather than using a lazy generic "drug addict", and allowing the reader to try and figure it out?
    Also differentiate between actual addiction and habitual use.
    A person can be a regular cannabis user without necessarily being addicted.
    It is also possible for people to habitual users of harder drugs, EG at weekends, without them being addicted.

    It's up to you to make it believable and turn it into a cogent narrative.
     
  10. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Yeah, it's pretty much stated from paragraph three that she is a "junkie" and by the end of chapter one she has already mentioned heroin by name a couple of times.

    She only works at the club occasionally (e.g. part-time, maybe even just a weekend bartender.) She has live-in girlfriend (who is an ex-meth user that is trying to help her get cleaned up - unsuccessfully) that pays most of the bills and the rest of her expenses/habit are supported by a combination of mooching, petty theft, and hitting her sister up for cash.
     
  11. PBrady
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    PBrady Active Member

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    Careful with your parlance.
    Not sure that anyone would use the word junkie now.
    In the 80s heroin users were often referred to as smack heads. Well that was the case where I was.
    I'm sure the lingo has moved on.
     
  12. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    My narrator grew up in the 90's, so she just refers to them with what she knows. Like my mother (who is a product of the 60's) still says "what's your bag man?" even though lingo has moved on since then.
     
  13. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    Talking from my own experience, which is rather extensive, there is a LOT of drug use among sex workers, which we can include strippers. In the States I think meth is the most common drug. Down here in Costa Rica, it's cocaine. I knew a few "massage parlor" girls who were addicted to heroin. But your question is whether it's a cliche, and it may be. Even as a part time bartender, I wonder why put your MC in that environment? Apparently she's a lesbian? She could tend bar in any bar in any non-upscale bar and come in contact with druggies. Are you hoping to "sex it up" by having scenes in a strip joint?
     
  14. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Sex won't even be a real factor. Of course it's there, but I think her POV will mostly focus how the bartenders/waitresses/dancers are degraded by the male customers. She doesn't even really want to work there, but she has a jail record (mostly theft and possession) so nobody more upscale is really willing to hire her. The only way she got this job was via a friend who vouched for her to the owner.
     
  15. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    If you want to use the backdrop of a strip club to demonstrate her disdain for that sort of environment, I can see the point. To make it feel realistic, you should probably find somebody to take you to one in order to get a feel for what they are actually like, if you want to rely on more than the stereotypes.
     
  16. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I've been in quite a few in my youth. I don't particularly care for them.
     
  17. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    Fair enough. You should be able to avoid the stereotypes then. (edit) But it did occur to me after my initial reply that you may not have gone with a writer's eye back then. Or maybe you did. Best of luck in any case.
     
  18. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you feel like this is where your character would naturally end up and you know you can write about the kind of life convincingly, go for it, cliché or not.

    I'd find it pretty realistic she'd feel sorry for the girls and disdainful towards the men. You can probably pull some drama out of that too (and social commentary).

    Good luck!
     
  19. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Oh, trust me, there will be plenty of social commentary slipped into her diary.
     
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  20. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Just make it believable. Like you probably wouldn't expect to have an astronaut also be a heroin addict. That would clash with every part of their lives.

    However, an employee who works "off the books" or odd hours, would be a believable addict to those who are not necessarily familiar with them. It would fit the stereotypes that they have formed in their minds. A cab driver might be a believable addict because maybe they could disappear for an hour and no one would notice.

    Heroin would be an excellent motivator for a character. Any time you feel things slow down in the story... Oops! Dealer got busted! Or something along those lines. :) Time for some strife and anguish, pain and misery, for the MC.
     

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