1. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    making sure the reader doesn't think my character is a pedophile

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ettina, Apr 23, 2012.

    In one of my stories, vampires are asexual. (They don't reproduce sexually, so why would they have sexual desire?) They also age slowly instead of not at all - 1 year in every 20 until adulthood, then 1 in every hundred afterwards, though it takes awhile for a newbie vampire's aging to slow down to this rate. Oh, and they're all fascinated by medicine and biology, which typically starts off by noticing different tastes to sick people's blood.

    The protagonist is the first vampire. He was found at the apparent age of 18 months or so, and was adopted by a family. They've handed him down over the generations, and now he's 280 and looks to be in his teens. As far as he knows, he's the only one of his kind, and all he knows about vampires is what he and his family have figured out over the years. Importantly, he currently has no clue that he could turn someone into a vampire.

    His family is about to adopt a 'double orphan' (an orphan whose adoptive family died after taking him in) even though everyone else thinks this kid is bad luck. The vampire's going to bond with this kid over the experience of being orphaned multiple times. And for the first time in his life, he'll feel the parental drive - the closest thing vampires get to a sex drive, but it's aimed at people they feel parental towards and want to turn.

    He'll be pretty confused by these feelings, and - having never felt sexual desire - he might think he's sexually attracted to this kid, and get freaked out and horrified at the thought. But I don't want the readers thinking this feeling is sexual. How do I make it obvious to anyone who's had sexual feelings that this is not sexual?

    So far, my one idea is that he has no reaction in his genitalia, but instead feels an itching in his cheeks (vampires store a virus for turning people in pouches in their cheeks). Would that make it clear enough?
     
  2. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I almost didn't finish reading your post. Now that Johnny Depp is portraying a vampire in comedy, I think the genre has come full circle.

    But you deserve an answer, so I ask you to consider this.

    The life expectancy of most people is somewhere between 70 to 80 years of age on average.

    In most vampire stories, the lead blood-sucker is several hundred years old.

    Ergo, all vampires are pedophiles.

    I hope that helps.
     
  3. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    No, it doesn't.

    My vampires are asexual. Therefore, by definition, they can't be pedophiles, because pedophilia is a sexual orientation.

    It sounds like you really didn't read past the word 'vampire'.
     
  4. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    It will probably put off some people, but I like to believe that readers of vampire fiction have a slightly higher tolerance of such stuff than others. I don't think it would be too bad if you let the reader believe his feelings were sexual. However, if he doesn't desire the child's body, I don't think I would assume his feelings were sexual. To be honest, I think they best way is to write a few scenes of them together, leave it for a while, then look at it again or have someone else look at it. I always find it easier to be able to think as a reader when I do that.
     
  5. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    As you rightly indicated - sexual desires are accompanied by biological preparation of the genitalia for intercourse. If your vampire does not experience this physical stimualtion then one could rule out sexual desire as the motive.

    The idea of pouches in the cheeks becoming itchy does alter that (sounds a bit cheesy to me), but perhaps the desire to turn is better phrased as an emotional rather than physical response - i.e. the desire to bite.

    I would explore the emotional aspect of the desire rather than physical. Don't worry about the sexual under / over tones, the vampire legend is very clearly related to sex so any story involving vampires is literally suffused with the idea long before you put pen anywhere near paper (or fingers near keys), making them asexual will not change that. That's why it its a hackneyed cliche. As I ask so often - WHY does it HAVE to be a vampire? It could just as easily be a person carrying a mutated genetc code and a virus - see Rabid for example.
     
  6. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    I'd be more worried about your reader thinking your character was a vampire to be honest.
     
  7. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Wrong word there, not a sexual orientation. Disorder, not orientation. Sorry, that just hit a few buttons.


    To answer your question, simply don't show arousal. You stated it yourself, it's close to a parental drive. So, focus on that.
     
  8. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I guess people are tired with vampires, but I've always been fascinated with them and I'm always willing to check out a new vampire movie/book/show etc. I've been doing this pre-Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse. That aside, this may be something as an author you are concerned about, but a reader may never consider. Like you said, if it is clear that vampires are asexual then why would we think (as readers) that he's a pedophile. If readers come to this conclusion, I think it's more telling about the reader's paranoia about sexuality than your writing. But that's just my opinion. Also, how young is this kid?
     
  9. WriterWoodsy
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    WriterWoodsy Member

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    Hate to pull you up on technicalities but an age gap even a huge one does not meet the definition of a pedophile.
    I think you've used the wrong words too and they "hit my buttons" a bit. There is a difference between asexuality and the many hormonal/psychological diseases out there that give people a low sexual drive. Not having a sexual orientation is just as valid as having one.

    On topic I think that it is irrelevant what the readers think about the character because in the end the character will come to their own conclusions and will relay that to the audience some how. I think it's an interesting premise if written well, good luck!
     
  10. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Uh, Considering the line I responded to was saying pedophilia is a sexual orientation, I think we're having a communication error. Because you're right, there is a difference, but not with pedophilia.
     
  11. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    double post
     
  12. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    *head desk*

    Why can't people on forums ever have a discussion about sexual appetites without getting all pissy about terminology?

    Whether or not being asexual is a valid sexual orientation wasn't the point of the original post AT ALL - if you want to have that conversation, take it outside.

    *back on topic*

    I agree with those who said the itchy cheek thing sounds like a bad idea - that's sexual arousal by another name. If it's not a sexual desire, don't make it physical. Although I also agree that trying to divorce vampires from the inherent sexual connotation of blood lust and urge to sate their desires through biting the neck is really rather tricky... it's all rather close to S&M and sexual deviancy. That's why vampires sell so well - they're sexy (or so many think - I find them quite boring).
     
  13. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    Don't forget, you're on a site full of self-proclaimed grammar Nazi's that will easily have one's head for a misplaced modifier.

    Well, from what I'm understanding, you have a parental instinct taking over, and the MC fears that it may be sexual orientation. One thing I'd like to point out, though, is that he doesn't know sexual orientation. It's like asking a man to describe a Jabberwocky having never heard the name or read of its origins before. Sure, he can read about sex drives and maybe witness how it affects people, but he'd know what to look for, and if any (and all) symptoms are missing, then he has nothing to fear; he should be confident he's still immune. My advice, avoid the mention of sexual orientation completely. Out of sight, out of mind. Otherwise, you may have readers *Face-book* (get it, Facebook? Haha... yeah, bad pun; couldn't help it...) when they get to that section.
     
  14. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I certainly wasn't planning on using the words 'sexual orientation'.

    Thing is, as an asexual person myself, I know that if you've never felt sex drive, it's easy to mistake non-sexual feelings for sexual ones, because other people's descriptions of sexual desire can be confusing sometimes. And though they wouldn't use the term pedophilia, they would stigmatize the idea of being attracted to a child. (I was thinking somewhere between 8 and 10 years.)

    (Incidentally, when I said pedophilia was a sexual orientation, I was not suggesting it's OK to be a pedophile. I was just saying that it's a characteristic that determines who you're sexually attracted to.)
     
  15. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I don't know how to give you advice about this, but as to your writing, but I can cite an analogy.

    I regard myself as a psychopath. The reason being is that I've felt my own thoughts as I react to the pressures of life. I'm probably not a total psychopath, I do love and care for my wife. However, some shrink might opine that I engage in a marriage for the personal benefits only. And round and round we go...

    I'm not sure a person can be asexual unless there is a clear-cut physical abnormality, like a birth defect. That's another matter entirely.

    As for being 'asexual' in a tradional understanding of the issue (and granted, never assume) my guess is that you are most likely akin to me. That being, you have so many traits of the overall condition you have latched onto a 'name.' Now you relate to every decision through that filter. What's happening is that you are simply projecting a pathology, and then only reacting within those bounds.

    Look, I went through what is now termed a "psychic break." Spooky times. However, I met some good doctors in both psychiatry and cognitive therapies. The last 15 years have been quite good, terrific in fact.

    As for this forum, I believe that your projection is coloring your story--not all bad. You can draw on it like I draw upon the dispassionate behavior of my lead and the supporting characters. When I need a insane unrepentant killer, I need look no further than the nearest mirror. Granted, I've never killed anyone, but all of the raw material for a truly disturbed individual is all there.

    Do two things. First, talk to someone. I think you'll find the answers refreshing and lift a great weight from your shoulders. Second, you now have a mother-lode of feelings, fears, angers, and strategies that many of us can only guess upon.

    Good luck to you. I hope both your happiness and your book work out for the best.
     
  16. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I'm not sure what you mean, The Tourist. Are you suggesting I'm not asexual, but I've convinced myself I am?

    Because for awhile I thought I was heterosexual. But as I learnt more (from talking to people with sexual drives about how they feel) I realized that I had never felt anything like that.

    I'm pretty sure it's a neurological abnormality in my case, because I have no physical abnormalities, but I'm high functioning autistic, and asexuality is more common among autistics.

    Incidentally, online I've met several people who consider themselves to be (or possibly be) psychopaths. One even has a blog, Psychopathic Writings. I've found it a very interesting read, and quite helpful for portraying characters with psychopathic tendencies.
     
  17. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    I understand, it was just wrong word choice, in my opinion so I was like... nope. I apologize for any stir or anger or whatever I caused.

    I understand what you mean and what you're trying to say and I think it is going to be an interesting thing to see that kind of reaction, but for the readers, in general, as long as its kept out of a sexual tone or arousal, and you as a writer show that he's not attracted to anyone, period, they're not going to jump onto the he's attracted to a child idea. Even if he is having a nervous break down thinking he is.

    I don't know how to explain it, but reading paranormal based things, there's a disconnect. Maybe just the suspension of belief, I don't know. But sitting here thinking about it, I can't imagine jumping to that conclusion with out some clear conclusion of arousal or want of the child.


    Then again, I don't connect sex with vampires unless I've gone on a romance book spree. So, maybe my thoughts aren't actually as valuable as others who do.
     
  18. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    You raise some interesting points worthy of consideration. Feel free to PM me at any time. I will seek to provide a sincerre and detailed response.
     
  19. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Just don't write about arousal. If he want to turn the child, then focus on wanting to bite/change him, perhaps as a kind of obsession. It could be one of the only things he ever thinks about, for example spacing out about it whilst someone is talking to him instead of listening. Also, you could focus on wanting to care for a person in a similar way that a parent does.

    Hope my meagre suggestions help.
     

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