1. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Too weird/disturbing?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by spklvr, Mar 13, 2011.

    I was surprised to find a completed story on my comp. Old though, so in a serious need of a rewrite.

    I showed it to my friend, who really liked most of the story, but one part disturbed her. To explain, the story is about two siblings, John (age 16) and Lilly (age 12), and their great-uncle Christopher. Chris has told them strange and grotesque stories their entire lives, and one night they end up trapped in Christopher's fairy-tail world.

    At some point in the story, Lilly is kidnapped by a more or less insane Lord, called Ludwig. Ludwig is a pedophile, who marries young girls and kills them when they get too old. He is only willing to release Lilly if John can find a more suitable bride for him. Lilly then reminds John of the story of Bernadette, a young girl who wished for immortality, and was therefor cursed to forever live in a child's body, unable to attain the love of a man. John finds Bernadette and brings her to Ludwig, merging the two tales, and Ludwig and Bernadette lives happily ever after (kind of).

    Apparently, this is “just wrong”, to quote my friend. Is it really that bad? I kind of think it's sweet... Besides, even though Bernadette has a child's body, her mind is of a grown womans'.
     
  2. Irontrousers
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    Irontrousers Member

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    If marrying young girls is the worst thing he does to them (apart from murdering them), I wouldn't worry too much about disturbing readers. If he's porking them, you're treading on darker territory, but nothing unheard of and certainly nothing a mature reader won't be able to handle.
    But if you're trying to convince the reader that an old man having a relationship with a girl as (apparently) young as twelve can be "sweet"... well, that's a hard sell. And that bit about her having the mind of a grown woman is invalid; I'm pretty sure puberty has a significant impact on psychological development, and if she was granted immortality before she entered puberty, then there's a level of maturity she just can never reach, no matter how much she experiences.
     
  3. Natbutterflyblue
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    Natbutterflyblue Member

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    I have to say its sounds way too creepy for me. I dont want to sound too harsh but the way you describe it sounds like every pedophiles wet dream. A child who wants to be with them (even a adult minded one).
    You might be treading on the ground that pedophelia is ok as long as the child agrees. Im sure I dont need to tell you that is never the case.
    Even if Bernadette has an adult mind, (though I do tend to agree with Irontrousers about that) its still glorifiying pedophilia and making it acceptable behavior under certain circumstances. Personally I wouldnt continue reading something like that. However the rest of the story sounds like an awesome idea.
     
  4. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    There might be a legality issue here, depending on the country. (I recently read something where it's illegal to look at photographs of someone who looks younger than 18, no matter how old they actually are.)

    The story might still work if you up their ages a bit.
     
  5. Irontrousers
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    Irontrousers Member

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    I'm almost positive legality doesn't come into it, otherwise books like Lolita and Naked Lunch would be screwed. I think OP is pretty much concerned about creepiness alone, no?

    Also, I'd like to point out that you shouldn't pander just to keep your readers from forming unflattering opinions of you. If the story has to be creepy, it has to be creepy. Just own it.
     
  6. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yea, that is kind of a creepy story, especially if that is going to be your ending. The bad guy basically wins all the way around.
     
  7. JPLayne
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    JPLayne Member

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    Its too bizarre I would either change the ages of the characters or ditch the story altogether. It might serve to encourage people with bad ways of thinking.
     
  8. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Hm. Well, this story definitely isn't benign ;D. But, considering that Bernadette would wish for something as pivotal as immortality, she might not be very stable on the morality scale, no?
     
  9. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Even though the theme is mature and somewhat disturbing, I don't have a problem with that at all. The part I feel is going a little too far, though, is, as others have said, that Ludwig gets Bernadette in the end.

    Or, to rephrase: even though some people might have trouble with reading it, portraying pedophilia isn't an issue. The issue is with the ending that would likely be interpreted as saying that it's okay or normal, even if that's not your intention.
     
  10. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    The thing is, you're giving the pedophile murderer a happy ending. That's really dark. The reason your friend reacted the way she did is because you probably portrayed the 'solution' as a good thing. If you made it seem like a bad thing, or made the main characters feel creeped out by the solution, then the reader would understand you realized this.

    There's not much to do if you want to keep this in the story as a good thing, but here's all I can come up with.

    Make Ludwig sympathetic. Show that he's not a bad guy, just insane. Show that when he's with Lilly that he's really kind, gentle, or compassionate. It's important that he's not interested sexually in her at all--he just wants someone with that innocence of youth to be his friend.

    Maybe he was in love when he was young and would pretend to be married to the girl, but she died or was taken away. The 'marriage' represents that close friendship, and he kills his 'wives' when they get old because that's what happened to his first love. He's compelled to relive some painful part of his past over and over because of his mental instability caused by the event itself. He hates killing the girls he marries, but he can't control himself.

    I'm not saying that would fit the character or the story, but that would fix the creepiness issue, and show that introducing this immortal girl to him is really a perfect solution to his psychological problems and the girl's loneliness.

    Another solution I could imagine is having the protagonist trick him in some way by introducing this other girl to him, and then using that opportunity to incapacitate or kill him. However, from what you've said, I don't think you want to do this.

    The last thing you could do is make Bernadette a complete monster. Complete monster. Introducing her to Ludwig actually makes you feel sorry for Ludwig, because he's going to spend the next eternity being manipulated, abused, or tortured by this girl. It would be poetic justice for all the girls he's killed himself.


    Whatever you do, it will require a lot of work on your part. Just covering up the issue won't remove the reader's discomfort at seeing such a horrible person get exactly what he always wanted.
     
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  11. Vince524
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    Vince524 Member

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    What you have is a guy who you describe as a pedophile/child killer. In the end, you give him a happy ending. It might be different if he had always resisted his fantasy. But he didn't. There doesn't see to be any redeeming moment, not that I can really imagine one for him.

    You might redeem it if they use the immortal girl to kill him. But just to get make him happy? I wouldn't go there.
     
  12. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I, personally, don't have a problem with it at all. In ANY way. The bad guy is a bad guy and you've already portrayed that. Sometimes the bad guys win. It's your story, you write where it takes you. As far as the pedophilia takes you, saying that you writing a story where a man ends up with a child is encouraging pedophiles is like saying that Ozzy Osbourne encouraged people to bite the heads off of bats, or that the show Intervention encourages people to be addicts, or Tawni O'dell's book Back Roads encourages incest. People need to get a grip IMO. Also, in a world where immortality actually exists who said puberty couldn't strike at 10 if that's really a sticking point for you? For that matter, had you set the book in the 1700's you wouldn't be too far from the mark for marrying age back then anyway. Or you could make them polygamists and put them on a compound.......age problem solved. It's still creepy, still wrong to most people (myself included) but it wouldn't stop me from reading it.
     
  13. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I think the issue is *not* that the bad guy wins, but the manner in which he wins. The protagonist(s) help him to win, and it seems to be portrayed as a good solution and a positive ending. If it was portrayed as a negative ending, I'd be perfectly fine with it.


    In the end, it's entirely up to you if you want to write that story, but, you need to realize that a lot of people are going to have a bad reaction to it; judging by the responses so far, many more people will have a negative reaction than not. If you're prepared to write a controversial story that's likely to turn off a lot of people and publishers, and that's going to make a lot of people question you as well, that's your decision. It's not our job to tell you that you can't write about something, only to advise you that people won't react positively to it in general.
     
  14. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    The protagonists help him win so that he can save his sister. I really don't see the problem. There is a good reason for it, OP didn't just do it for the sake of doing it.
     
  15. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Well, it's not just that the protagonist helps him, it's that it's viewed as a win-win and a positive ending. If the protagonist realized that it wasn't the right thing to do, but did it anyways for the sake of his sister, I still think it would be edgy and controversial, but not garner quite so much of a negative reaction. No one's saying the story has to have a happy ending. We're just saying that this ending shouldn't be portrayed as an entirely happy one.
     
  16. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I don't know. Maybe it is a happy ending in the land they're in. She's not Ozzy and they're not bats....lol. There's nothing wrong with dark. Plenty of dark books are sold every day. Not to me necessarily, but I think she should follow it where it went. Again, if it was set in the 1700's he'd just be a murderer. It's all about perspective.
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    16-1700s nobles married as young as six/eight and had sex when the female had her period.

    Is it creepy yes - is it too wrong - no I don't think so it's a story.
     
  18. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's disturbing isn't that a women trapped in a child's body get a partner.

    The disturbing thing is that someone willing to rape and murder people over and over again, especially children as seen as a partner fit to anyone.
     
  19. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds pretty disturbing. Do it anyway.
     
  20. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sorry but this all sounds pretty lame. No interest in the girl sexually? Then he's not a pedophile at all, just a child murderer. Is being a pedophile really worse?

    I see nothing wrong with letting the horrible child rapist/murderer get off scott free; not all stories need to end with the bad guy getting roudhouse-kicked off a cliff and exploding. He gets him his bride, so it's not like he'll be out prowling the streets of Imaginationland for new brides, and neither MC even dies.

    TS, I say stick to your original vision and be completely unapologetic about it. Its ferocity is what makes it appealing to me; water it down and I'd be uninterested, and there are probably others who'd be intrigued by it as it stands as well.
     
  21. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seconded it is the bizarre and weird in its nature. That makes it intriguing.

    It is creepy, it is weird but isn't that what you were trying to evoke ?
     
  22. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not bad ideas, but I don't really want Ludwig to be sympathetic. He's weird and insane, and he creeps people out (including the main character, though Lilly finds the ending sweet). Also, Bernadette does have a significant creepiness factor herself, and feels okay murdering people she doesn't like, especially men who rejects her. It's never stated that he has a sexual relationship with the girls (although he probably does).

    Also, this is in the beginning of the story, and John is not much of a hero at that point. He cares for Lilly and Lilly alone. Ludwig also becomes important at the end of the story, which is why I don't want him dead. After this, Lilly decides to bring happy endings to all of her great-uncle's many bizarre stories, something she fails at most of the time.

    It is what I'm going for, but seeing as my friend (who has come up with some disturbing plots herself) reacted to it made me wonder if it's too much. Know what's more disturbing? I wrote this story when I was 13-14...
     
  23. Archnenna
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    Archnenna Active Member

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    My opinion is that it sounds like a great story. It's dark and might be a bit scary, but that would only make me want to read it more since I like these kind of stories. So what if a villain has a happy ending? It's a story, fiction - it's not real, so nothing wrong with writing it. You can write whatever you want. There will always be people who will like it and people who wouldn't. If your pedophile has a happy ending, that doesn't mean that you think it's a good thing - it's what happens in the story, which is just fiction. I say go for it!
     
  24. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    If Ludwig prefers pre-pubescent girls, he's a pedophile. If he prefers girls who've just entered puberty, he's a hebephile, and would be considered fairly normal in a (realistic) medieval setting.

    I agree the solution to Ludwig's dilemma is creepy, but I think it would fit well in a story where there's no clear good or evil side, and even the protagonists have major dark streaks. For example, if life is sufficiently harsh in a fantasy world, murdering and stealing may be a simple fact of life, and any solution is good as long as it enables you to survive.

    Just be prepared for negative reactions from some people.
     
  25. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I liked the point made about Bernadette being a monster, thus leading for poetic justice.
     

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