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  1. cryssfox
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    cryssfox Member

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    how young is too young?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cryssfox, Sep 2, 2010.

    I'm starting a new story and it's about a boy who lives a short time in the future in a closed community; seemingly the typical future as dystopia (never fear though, I have plenty of twists) and I'd like him to be young; I'd love 11.
    BUT, in the story he is going to have oral sex with a girl a little older (maybe 15ish). As a former middle school teacher I know that kids this young are engaging in these behaviors, but I don't want to shock my reader so much that they are pulled up out of the story.
    Obviously, this is adult fiction, or YA for mature readers, but I'd like a second/third/etc. opinion: is 11 too young? For literature, of course, not for real life. :)
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    These days eleven year olds are having sex, often with older teens. In parts of the US until fairly recently a court order and parental persmission allowed the marriage of some twelve years olds. There was an uproar in teen magazines in the late 80s/early 90s in the UK about it.

    Personally I think fifteen/sixteen is too young, but if eleven/twelve year olds are fathering and having children they are clearly having sex.

    I don't know but plenty of people read about child abuse this to me is less shocking.
     
  3. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    What goes on among the young today fails to surprise me anymore.
    But I do not want to read about it in fiction. I read and see enough of it in the papers and on TV.

    Give me a good old fashioned murder any day of the week.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nabokov wrote Lolita in the fifties. I know that the sex Lolita engaged in with Humbert was not portrayed as a positive experience for her (Humbert tells the story and you can't trust anything he says ...), so it has no relevance to your story except for this: Readers should be past getting all worked up about kids having sex in fiction. Especially if the story takes place in the future - who knows what the prevailing views of society will be then?

    I say if you want him to be 11, let him be 11. If people don't want to read about an 11 year old having sex, they can throw your book in the trash, as I'm sure many prudes did with Lolita.
     
  5. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Go ahead with what fits your story, but only if it has significance. If there's a reason for it to be what it is, then it's perfectly fine. If, however, it's a romantic scene that could be pulled off just fine with a kiss, then it's pointless to throw in something like that.
     
  6. cryssfox
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    cryssfox Member

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    Thanks for your feedback, everyone. =)
     
  7. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second what the rest say above. I would only ever feel compelled to bin a novel like yours if I felt the issue was handled gratuitously. If you're careful in this regard, I don't think you will have any problems.
     
  8. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tell an honest story. And tell it in an honest way.

    Done right it not to young, and wont been seen as exploiting children. Its better to tell the real story then have misconceptions about children and hild psycology that dont protect them.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it depends entirely and only on the character/status of the character in question and the needs of the story/plot... nothing we think should have any bearing on the matter...
     
  10. Bad_Valentine
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    Bad_Valentine Member

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    When I think of a kid that little engaging in sex acts, I think immediately that the kid has been/is being sexually abused. If that's where you're headed with the story, or if the extremely young age is somehow integral to the story you're telling, then it probably makes perfect sense.
     
  11. kaylynwrong
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    kaylynwrong Member

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    I think it depends on the scene. Is it going to be kind of glossed over and just mentioned briefly, or is there some big sex scene with the 11 year old? It really depends. I know 11 yr old boys sometimes do that, but is it necessary for your book? Can you tell us a little bit more about what's going on in this scene? Could you possibly change it so that something else happens? Like, maybe they make out for a bit, and he feels her up or something? I don't know-that just seems more realistic for an 11 yr old boy.
     
  12. cryssfox
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    cryssfox Member

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    It is integral to the plot, and I am unwilling to soften the scene, as he is an inactive participant in it. This is the event that will propel him over the wall. I need him to be young, because he needs a soft understanding of what is happening to him, which, given his upbringing, he will. I'm not glossing over the scene, nor am I going into gratuitous detail. It is an adult text. I really need him to have a lot of innocence or he won't be sympathetic, given the rather rigid beliefs he shares with his community members. He needs a high level of innocence going into the story because he's bound to lose it all after what I'm going to put him through.
    I want my reader uncomfortable; I want them to squirm reading this, but I'm cognizant of not drawing their attention away from the text. I'd like to keep their focus on my book, so I don't want to create a situation that is too shocking.
     
  13. kaylynwrong
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    kaylynwrong Member

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    Thanks for giving more details. Definitely keep him as an 11 yr-old. I think it's a good age for what you want to accomplish with him-have lots of innocence, lose it, etc.

    I absolutely love dystopian! :) It's pretty much my favorite type.
     
  14. white
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    white Banned

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    Anything goes with fiction. Just tell an honest story.
     
  15. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    After hearing your intentions and reasons it makes a lot more sense. If that is what you're intending to happen you should definitely go all-out.
     
  16. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is what you make of it. An 11-year-old having oral sex will not sit right with some people no matter what you do but if you write it right, it could be pulled off.
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't help feeling you could have found a better turn of phrase at the end there. :redface:
     
  18. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Hey, I love dystopia (I'm writing a dystopia novel myself), if you want a review then shoot a PM my way!

    I also study psychology...if you need help with disorders or how stuff would affect him or something, I'd be glad to help.

    And don't worry, nothing shocks me, nothing.

    Aesch, I like your new favorite quote!
     
  19. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Okay, after reading what you posted I'm thinking go with it. It's your story. You choose. It makes sense to me given the situation. It's not like we don't hear about twelve yr olds having sex at school now and then. It's not something that never happens. Social acceptance seems to be one of the things that decides most what is taboo and wrong in society (aside from a persons morals) and if society has crumbled then it makes sense that the things people thought were off limits are now things no one cares about.
     
  20. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    We'll things is it not abnormal or a sick behaviour. Young healthy kids experiment sexually. Small boys and girl play doctor and do a lot of other stuff. Even fetus masturbate. As long as the just a kids innocently exploring what they are curious of and feels good its a quite normal behaviour. The degree of this differ but almost all kids do it to some degree.
     
  21. Show
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    Maybe I could've! ;) But then again, maybe it, however unintended, works. :rolleyes:
     
  22. cryssfox
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    cryssfox Member

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    Thank you again, everyone, for your input. I am greatly enjoying the discussion element of writing. I've been considering the story and have decided that he will be 11. It's starting out as a short story (20-30 pp long) but I will likely expand it into a novel, so I'm not sure that I'll be posting this particular one for review, but thank you for the offer. I may post the first scene in the next few days; I'll let you know.
    Thank you again, everyone. I greatly value your input.
     
  23. Show
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    Good luck. I've had a kid around the same age deal with a brutal rape in one of my earlier stories(not to mention the victims of one of my many serial killer characters) so I can't really stone anybody else for going a similar route of losing innocence. Stories can really make anything happen and as long as the reader doesn't get the wrong idea about it, I think you can get away with this. (On a side note, I feel a little less weird about some of the things that happened to some of the kid characters in my book. Cause I had the same worries about you in regards to age)
     
  24. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    I am a primary school teacher, and I would be repulsed by this idea, just as I am repulsed by hearing about primary-aged children engaging in such activities in the news. I would put down the book immediately and most probably never read anything by the same author again.

    That's not to say it isn't OK to use. From my point of view though, it's unforgiveable. Maybe some readers enjoy being shocked in that way, but I'm not one of them.
     
  25. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    But shouldn't one of the functions of literature be to challenge, as well as depict the world as it occasionally can be?

    Something like this can be used to disturb and challenge us, just as all depictions of the dark side of humanity can. I'm of the opinion that a writer writing something like this needs to handle it with care, but that if it is integral to the plot and raises a point about humanity I don't have a problem with a writer doing it.

    But if it is just for the shock value, don't bother.
     

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