1. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    how much can a crush explain?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ettina, Jul 12, 2012.

    OK, I have a character I'm stuck on, Derik. He's an incredibly smart, physically abused 11 year old kid. He's friends with a cold, calculating boy (same age) who turns out to have supernatural powers. This friend of his lets him tag along on an adventure, and at the end of the adventure, Derik drops off the radar. Then he turns up again, having latched himself onto a 13 year old girl with the same powers, who has a somewhat nicer personality but is still plenty calculating. I need him to decide to turn into a vampire at her request (she wants to use him as a proxy to take over the local vampires) even though he knows she has some pretty scary powers that only work on vampires, and wouldn't hold back from using them if she thought it was necessary.

    Can I explain this choice by him having a crush on her? How do I portray a crush realistically, given that I'm asexual? I know in many stories people do really dumb things because of sexual attraction, but I think this is often exaggerated, and I don't know what would be a realistic degree of this.
     
  2. AlexLB
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    AlexLB New Member

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    If Derik is incredibly smart, I think he wouldn't let his heart rule his head, although she could use his intelligence as a draw into her little schemes.

    Imagine her talking close enough for lips to touch, caressing his face, letting him know how much his brain would be an advantage in her scheme. Have her lie, telling him it's for a greater good, and that she will give her heart to him if he will do just this one thing for her.

    Reading back on that paragraph it sounds corny as heck,but it's a starting point. I've known people, way back in school, who despite having a huge brain were particularly dumb not noticing a con when it came along. Think Sheldon from Big Bang Theory :D
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a crush certainly is sufficient to explain the choice. I'm not even certain it needs to be overtly explained -- I think it can be left implied. Simply have Derik think about her a lot, and maybe dismiss unsavory things she might do with the powers -- i.e. This could be dangerous, but I'm sure *she* wouldn't do that.

    However, in this case, sexual attraction doesn't have quite the same power for most 11 year old boys as it does for a 13-14 year old boy, so you might want to keep that in mind or possibly tweak the ages if you think that would work in your story.
     
  4. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    So, he was physically abused as a child, the manipulative girl might exploit that (may be she will make up a story of abuse of herself) to have him trust her. On top of that if he has a crush on her and/or physical attraction he might be smitten enough to listen to his heart and do whatever she wants. Also, if he has a reason of his own (revenge perhaps) to want to be a vampire he might ignore the dangers involve.
     
  5. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    He's 13. Of course a crush can explain that. ;)
     
  6. nephlm
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    nephlm Member

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    it depends on what vampires are in your world. Are they are soulless hunger driven killing machines without remorse or conscience or do they sparkle on particularly bright days? The closer it is to the former the less a crush is sufficient. Actions and effects that hinder the path to 'and we live happily ever after together' are the actions that will be harder to justify.

    That said, 13 year olds aren't known for their long term planning. Brains can can be bypassed, at least in the short term, with physicality or emotion. Jealousy would be an effective tool. "I'll guess I'll just have to ask so and so to help.He's always asking what he can do to help. I think he might like me." The 13 year old boy with crush wouldn't even see that naked manipulation, but a challenge to prove his dedication.

    This is really important, it never occurs to the 13 year old boy with a crush that his crush might use her powers against him. That is inconceivable. "She isn't like that." And in a sense it's true, he's talking about he person he's put on a pedestal, which has only a passing resemblance to the real person.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How persuasive are you as a writer? :)
     
  8. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    I've worked with 11-13 year olds for 25 years...13 year olds would definitely do anything for a crush. 11 year old girls might...most 11 year old boys are still thinking about little league and video games. You might have to preset the stage as to why he is so infatuated with a girl at such a young age...or it could be fantasy, which it sounds like it is.
     
  9. DomTheDoxx
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    DomTheDoxx Member

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    Even if he's "incredibly smart" emotions rule over logic most of the time, considering emotions have more draw and physical power. Logic is just well... data. It can be taken into consideration and your actions can be adjusted, but with emotion, it doesn't take time to stop and think and calculate it just HAPPENS and when its over you're like, wtf just happened what did i do. I remember many times in the past when i let my anger get the better of me, ended up doing something stupid, and sat there afterwards like, "wow, that wasn't like me at all. why would i do that?"

    So no matter how calculating it is, if he's drawn to her enough then his logical mind will get cloudy.
     
  10. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    OK, so the idea at least is plausible... now, how to actually write it...

    By the way, I've written him as an early developer. He has to be in the same grade as another 11 year old, though, who definitely hasn't entered puberty, so he's 12 at the oldest.

    The girl won't deliberately seduce him - it's the one kind of manipulation she's not willing to do, because sexuality freaks her out (she was sexually abused). But she'd definitely be willing to befriend him and make him like her, and once she realizes he was abused sharing her abuse story will certainly help with that.

    Any advice on how to write a crush convincingly? Should I have him focus a lot on her physical features, and always think of the best possible interpretation for her actions?
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of the same type of stuff that was in that Writing Sexual Attraction thread fairly recently. Yes, he'll think about her physical features, maybe think about kissing her, always giving her the benefit of the doubt and the best interpretation of what she does, a willingness to go out of his way for her, thinking about her a lot. The physicality of this though (even in his fantasy), is going to be tempered since your character is 11. If the boys must be the same ages, and you can't move the other 11 year old up to 13, to make the boys both 13, that is going to affect the strength of this motivation on his part. (Could the boy have for some reason been held back in school -- maybe some sort of serious illness or injury at one point that caused him to miss a year of school or some type of move or change in the school system that caused him to be older than other kids in the same grade -- just a thought.)

    11 year olds really are more little boys than they are men.
     
  12. charlesvee
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    charlesvee New Member

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    Abused? How? By whom? What age? One time. a few times, many times, for years? Define the abuse and it will determine the boy's behavior and motivations. Else remove the abuse and deal with an 11 and then 13 yr old boy. You can't have it both ways. Maybe you need to research the lasting effects of childhood abuse to help fill out the boy's character.
     
  13. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Derik has a drunk, violent father and a mother who doesn't really care much about him. This situation has been ongoing from when he was very young until when he runs away with his friend during the course of the first book.

    I've researched the effects of abuse extensively for many years. I'm pretty confident that I can write abused characters well.

    Incidentally, the girl, Kale, had a father who beat her mother and forced her mother to sexually abuse her, and also sexually abused her himself. At the age of 4, she told someone about the abuse, and ended up in a serious of foster homes. She also had a telepathic mentor speaking in her mind on a regular basis, and he was the one constant in her life, until he lost his powers at the start of the first book. This mentor is the reason she isn't more messed-up than she is.

    Derik's best friend Trevor had the same telepathic mentor (his sudden silence kicks off the plot). He was going along mostly fine until his mother figured out something was 'off' about him and decided he was possessed (his kind don't feel emotions as strongly as normal humans). She hired an exorcist, and the telepathic mentor realized that the exorcist's planned spell would kill Trevor (he actually is possessed, and his system can't handle not being possessed). Realizing that Trevor's mother wouldn't listen if Trevor tried to convince her to stop, and that Trevor was too young to handle being on his own so he couldn't run away, the telepathic mentor convinced Trevor to murder his own mother and make it look like an accident. This really messed up Trevor, and he survives by extensive denial and by trying his best not to feel anything at all. Meanwhile, he pulled away from his father, who is a decent parent but was dealing with grief and couldn't figure out how to reach his son, so they grew apart to the point where they almost act like roommates instead of family by the start of the first book. Trevor's father is starting to realize he needs to reconnect with Trevor, but he doesn't know how, meanwhile Trevor keeps pushing him away (he doesn't want it to hurt too badly if he's forced to kill his father as well, though he doesn't realize this about himself).

    Derik, by the way, has no idea about his best friend's backstory. All he knows is that his friend's mother died in an accident, and his friend is a cold, manipulative person who never seems to feel any negative emotions. (This is what attracts Derik to him, Derik wants to be as powerful and untouched by pain as he thinks Trevor is. Derik figures if he was more like Trevor, he could handle the abuse at home better.)
     

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