1. Penguin
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    Help With Character Relations. Sweet, Not Creepy?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Penguin, Dec 8, 2015.

    Okay, so I have a dilemma. I'm writing a story where the main character is a 25 year old former soldier who is understandably traumatized by what he has seen and has started drinking to cope. His family owns a library and because they are all dead he is left as the owner. While at work he meets a 5 year old girl who befriends him and she visits the library often and he tells her stories loosely based on his life and as she gets older they become best friends. My problem is that I do intend for them to be a couple eventually, but because of the considerable age difference and the fact that he knew her as a child, what can I do to make sure the relationship comes off as sweet and innocent instead of creepy and pedophilic? (Think Mary & Max vs Ezria Fanfiction)
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    At a basic level, she should make the first move, a verbal one; and he should be initially hesitant, even shocked, like, let me sleep on this, hesitant. Don't have him say "let me sleep on that one," though, whatever you do.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  3. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Would making it be between an old man and an old woman affect the plot in any way?
     
  4. Penguin
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    Lol, "let me sleep on it..."

    Thanks for the reply :)
    That's kind of what I was thinking, but I've seen so many stories where even when someone protests it still comes off as creepy. Then there's the issue of why would her parents let her spend time with an alcoholic? And where is the line where comfort becomes creepy?
     
  5. Penguin
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    Thanks for the reply.
    Unfortunately yes. Basiclly he gets home from the war after losing his best friend and his sister and sort of self destructs and is super depressed. He wants to die but he cant bear the thought of killing himself after seeing so much death. Then, he meets a little girl who gives him hope again and she grows up and they become friends. I think part of it would be lost if she were to be older. Part of the reasonhe is helped is becauseshe is an innocent child who hasnt seen any of the worlds badness.
     
  6. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    With a plot like this, some will write it off right away as creepy -- that's a given. He could hide his alcoholism as many do, and her parents, maybe, are in someway absent -- alcoholics themselves perhaps. But, yeah, at five years old, alone? That's a toughy. People have different sensitivities to creepiness, so your story might have to fill out more before those who don't have a problem with the idea of the story could judge that.
     
  7. Penguin
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    I mean, it's not like their going to be having sleepovers, or going to movies while she's five, just story hour at the library basically. I guess, I'm asking for opinions from parents? Under what circumstances would you feel comfortable with a child being friends with this man? Because he's an employee and there are so many people at the library? What if he came to dinner? I just feel like it's kind of a touchy area, and I definitly don't want to come off like a pervert. I just feel i'm a little too close to it to judge if it's crossing a line. Does this make sense? Its been areally long time since I've slept...
     
  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    No doubt, there's hazards. Me, no kids. Hope you get some rest and welcome to the forum.
     
  9. Penguin
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    Thanks for your help :)
     
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  10. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Five year old alone in the library, I'm going to agree probably not.
    My kids walked to the library everyday after school to do HW while waiting for me to get off work. Make her a year or two older (6 or 7) and the story works for me. I say this because my own kids became enamored with the librarians at that age. One of them even wrote a story for school about "Super Sally and Dynamic Donna the Reference Librarians" who managed to track down Osama Bin Laden because Librarians can find anything!

    I see this as sweet. BUT--you've got 20 years of wait time in the story until she grows up.
     
  11. Penguin
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    Thanks for the reply.

    I guess I should have clarified, she wont be alone at the library when she's five, I was thinking more along the lines of her mother takes her and she sort of follows him around the library while he puts away books and he tells her stories. She wouldn't be alone at the library for quite some time. I know I wouldn't let my (currently nonexistant) kids go alone at that age either.

    Also, that sounds like a super cute story. :) Your kid sounds like a hoot!
     
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  12. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    1\I'm a parent.
    2\At 6 or 7 hanging out at the library is totally cool with me, especially after school. It's kind of like the kid who has a crush on his teacher.
    3\Precisely. As my kids got older they volunteered at the library, shelving books, taping stickers on new items, etc. My youngest built a shed for the library as his Eagle project. They have done landscaping and yard work as well. We only live a block from the library, so they are down there all the time and the librarians know they have the freedom to put them to work.
    4\That's OK by me. I've been to gatherings with the librarians outside of library functions. And I've sent the children to the librarians house (alone) to sell Boy Scout popcorn, etc. (Ironically Super Sally and Dynamic Donna live next door to each other in real life and are only 6 blocks from my house. Of course the entire population of the town is only 800 people.)
     
  13. Penguin
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    2\At 6 or 7 hanging out at the library is totally cool with me, especially after school. It's kind of like the kid who has a crush on his teacher.

    That's exactly it, thank you for putting that in words :) I just don't want someone to take one look at it and think 'Oh my God, pedophile!'
     
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  14. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    That is totally normal behavior and the mom is probably grateful for the reprieve while she peruses the romance section. Kids like stories and if the mom sees them wandering in and out of the stacks she wouldn't be worried at all.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused about the library part. What country is this in? There may be countries where libraries are privately owned, but the idea will, I believe, confuse readers from the United States.
     
  16. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I
    I'm from the US and we have privately owned libraries in our county. Not our town though, we are lucky to even have a public library in our town. Not confusing at all to me.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    Interesting. I've never encountered a privately owned library. How do they work? Do they rent the books? Or is this a regular free library that happens to be owned by a charity rather than the government?

    Edited to add: Well, no, that's not true. I've heard of libraries owned by educational institutions, charities, etc. It's the idea of a library owned by a family, rather than some sort of family foundation, that confuses me.
     
  18. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    One of them I don't know because I've never been to it. (Christian Science Reading Room.) The other is owned by a private company in conjunction with the "Arts Center." I've been there a couple of times for film showings and events, but never checked out books because I have extensive library privileges because of my university connections. There isn't anything that I can't get either from work or the public library near my house. I think there is one other private library in the county.

    Then of course, there are the libraries associated with the private schools.
     
  19. Penguin
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    Thats kind of along the lines I was thinking, I was just concerned about the man being a drinker. Would that affect if you let your child talk to him? Again, I'm not talking about sleepovers while he's completely pissed, just talking and he maybe has bloodshot eyes or something.

    I don't know, maybe I'm overthinking this?
     
  20. Penguin
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    I haven't decided where it's set yet. I was thinking maybe his family gave the funds to build the building or donated the books, that kind of thing. In my hometown we had a library that was technically owned by Woodrow Wilson...
     
  21. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    You're over thinking this. How would the mom know he's an alcoholic? Blood-shot eyes may simply mean he spent the night in bed with a good book and rang in a rose colored dawn with the last chapter? (I tell people I have insomnia, but what I really have is a good book.)

    If either of our librarians were alcoholics, I wouldn't let my kids get in a car with them, but raking leaves at the library is totally OK. It can be very hard to identify a functional alcoholic.
     
  22. Penguin
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    Just like regular libraries, they just have private funding. Think of the family as a foundation, and because he's the last member of his family he technically owns it.
     
  23. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Have him inherit an existing library. That way it's already known and established in the community. Less weird if people have been frequenting it for years. Plus old buildings have cool architecture.
     
  24. Penguin
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    This is just kind of my baby, I'm glad to hear i'm overthinking it. You know how it is to get a little paranoid about your writing...
     
  25. Penguin
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    Thats a good idea :) Thanks.
     

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