1. New Konoiche
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    New Konoiche Member

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    Writing a "May/December" Relationship

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by New Konoiche, Jun 14, 2013.

    Hi, all.

    As you can see, I'm relatively new to the forum. This is kind of a question that could pertain to both character development and plotting, but I guess I will put it here. I want to develop the relationship between a high school girl (but already 18!) and her sixty-something boss without it being too squicky, cliche, or unbelievable. Anyway, a little background info:

    My girl, Flora: She's kind of a spoiled/princessy type and is quite popular. She's also the "beta" female/sidekick to the alpha girl in her clique (if you've seen Mean Girls for example, she's basically Gretchen). She has a boyfriend, but often feels lonely because no one really knows the "real" her. Her parents are usually busy and generally don't pay much attention to her. Anyway, she ends up getting a job volunteering with a political campaign to boost her college resume stuff and meets the candidate, John Johnston (who is widely considered a "silver fox.") At first, she has just a crush on him, but soon realizes he's kind of a jerk. Later on, however, they have some conversations and she finds that he actually takes the time to really listen to her/get to know her, which leads to her having deeper feelings for him. Of course, her friends start finding this worrisome, and she herself starts feeling kind of weird about the whole thing too.

    So, I've got her whole side of it pretty much covered, but Johnston's a little bit more of an issue. What's going on in his mind? Should he recirpricate her feelings? I know I'm kind of treading on some potentially controversial territory here (even though she's of age and all), but I don't want it to be one of those cliche "I don't like you that way but someday you will find someone else" situations. I don't know, I just think the whole thing should be deeper than that. And it's definitely a more spiritual/social connection than a physical one. What do you think? Any idea of how to go about this without it being too...weird?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If it's going to be a May/December romance, don't cringe so much at the age difference. I already feel you, the writer, squirming in your seat a tad just from your post. No one here is going to think you're a pedo any more than we would think Thomas Harris serves up fried people with fava beans. ;)

    Secondly, more than anything, my concern (and focus) as regards John Johnston is his political career. What is he thinking as regards this obvious scandal into which he is stepping? Does anyone else know? His aids, secretary, staff? If they do, how do they play in moving him to a decision?
     
  3. New Konoiche
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    New Konoiche Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Wreybies! Yeah, its difficult in our current society to not be a little worried about the whole pedo thing. Although perhaps these same concerns should be on Johnston's mind as well. Flora's friends' reactions would I think be more of the "aw, that's cute, but be careful" type, but I imagine if Johnston tried to tell anyone, people would be more inclined to say "ew, gross, dude."

    Good questions about how it affects his career. I think he generally tries to downplay having any kind of relationship (even a working one) with her in public, kind of acting aloof, disinterested and a bit condescending (just generally pretending he has no clue who she is) in order to avoid any kind of suspicion. His running mate, Sen. Dennings I think knows that Flora has a crush on him, but I don't think she knows anything beyond that, though, if Johnston were to admit it to anyone, it would be Dennings.

    I guess the main thing I want to drive at is how alike they both are in that they both have to play this public persona/role and hide who they really are.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is not what Johnston's friends would be saying to him. At least not his male friends. Amongst chums, over scotch and stogies, the conversation would be of a more lascivious nature. A pretty 18 year old girl amongst a bachelor set is the proverbial Golden Egg.

    That's creepy, I know, but it's the truth.
     
  5. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    Take age OFF the table. Feelings are feelings and it is true that we sometimes can't control the heart, which is the root of your story. Age is normally only a factor in how their peers view them, and how they feel about the judgement they will receive from those peers in a lot of cases. May/December relationships may often be connected with gold digging, but often come about for other reasons as well. Power is quite often an attractive quality.

    My main issue with your story though will be the same as the post above in that your older man is a politician. He will be committing political suicide with this relationship if anyone finds out about it, and they will if he is in politics.

    As to why he would be attracted to her. Are you kidding? He is a guy, she is young and I assume hot. Guys rarely need much more incentive than that to begin with, and if based on scandals politicians definitely suffer this problem. As for feelings, well that’s no different than any other relationship.
     
  6. New Konoiche
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    New Konoiche Member

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    Thanks, Wreybies and Huntsman!

    Yes, he is certainly physically attracted to her and all (and vice versa), but he's also a profoundly lonely guy too. I should probably develop his back story a bit more. I know he's not married at the moment, but I'm not sure of the exact details. Was he married before? Maybe he had a good marriage and his wife died semi-recently? Or he's divorced. Hell, maybe he even has kids around Flora's age! Or perhaps he's never been married and has just always been a player? (although I have other characters with similar backgrounds, so yeah...) All things I need to think about.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're asking us what's going on in his mind, but you haven't really told us much about him. Is he married? divorced? widowed? never married? Does he have kids?

    Although certainly a sixty-something man would hook up with an 18 year old woman, I feel like it would be a little better to have him be in his early 50s. The age difference is still big, but 50 something guys are more convinced that they are young than are 60 somethings. Also, by the time a politician is in his 60s, he's probably pretty well-established. He usually wouldn't have to be as involved in the day-to-day aspects of a campaign, as he would be if he were younger or just starting out on a political career.

    You could establish an age difference even if the politician were in his forties, and he could be embarking on a political career at that age, (or campaigning, for example, for a higher office like Senator after maybe serving in the state legislator or in some lower-level office, or establishing a career elsewhere). Is there a reason that you specifically want him to be in his sixties?
     
  8. New Konoiche
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    New Konoiche Member

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    No, I suppose he doesn't have to be in his sixties. It's just how I imagined him I guess and I also thought it would add to the negative (or at least shocked) reactions on the part of Flora's family/friends. Late forties/early fifties would probably work just as well though and would still fit with his personality of being uber-confident, knowledgeable, semi-arrogant and very slick.

    Never realized how little I know about the guy! Being that I'm a girl and closer to Flora's age, I definitely relate to her POV and how the situation affects her more, but Johnston's side of the story should be just as important even if I'm not writing from his point of view. I think I'm going to go with him being a widower, who had a loving wife, who died of cancer or something awhile back. Maybe they have a son, as well, who would probably be in his teens.

    Thanks for your input, guys!
     
  9. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    No question about it, you should try and know him just as well as your MC. Often books will fail to be enjoyable reads due to weak or shallow characters that people can't relate to. They need to have a separate identity and personality to your MC, and definitely if they are important. There is a reason they give Oscars to the best supporting actors for films, and so you do need your main supporting characters to be just as strong as your lead one.
     
  10. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I have a small suggestion maybe the John Johnston character could a sort of father figure to Flora since her own father does not care about her. From their it could grow into a romance but it should grow slowly.
     
  11. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    This is one of the main things that jumps to my mind, even though it's a little off-topic for what you asked. If Mr. Johnston tries to hide this relationship, it's a scandal in the making. It will be discovered, end of discussion, even if it's over by the time it's found out. Have you seen the movie Primary Colors? There are people hired during campaigns to find dirt on opponents.

    Also, I think Mr. Johnston definitely needs to have been a family man at some point. I don't know much about politics (I've never voted once in my life) but I think voters are silly enough to think that's an important trait in their politicians. I'm not sure a bachelor could get elected, though a widower certainly could. I'm not even sure of the track-record of divorcees, as that is a whole mess of potential dirt to cause problems in campaigning. Widower, on the other hand, lends a lot of sympathy. That could make people even more upset, though, when they find out about his relationship with Flora (he's betraying the memory of his lost wife!). But people will be people and people like drama so they'll get upset over whatever they can. This whole thing's a fairly tricky and delicate setup but it can be done, I've no doubt.

    I think you need to flesh out John before we can help you any more here. Find out his personality. What does he like and dislike? Why is he the way he is? That should lead you to whether he reciprocates Flora's feelings and even whether he's willing to sacrifice his political career for her. Balance this equation out and the answer will fall in your lap, I think. :)
     

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