1. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    Dealing With Controversial Subjects

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by StarFyre, Nov 2, 2018.

    First off, I'm not looking for reviews, I just want to ask about dealing with subjects most don't touch upon. So here are excerpts from my novel as examples of the so-far known ones.


    Xita’s father was a man who travelled a lot for his work and often would disappear for weeks on end if not months to his ancestral homeland, often bringing back souvenirs only the wealthy could afford.

    Her mother, on the other hand, taught at a gym.

    All in all, they had a good life.

    Then again, so did I. At that thought, my gaze drifted to Ben.

    Dead mother, hidden bruises, physical and emotional, and yet he treated life like his best friend.

    Benjamin is being abused. There's also a minor chance that Xita's dad happens to be cheating on her mom but I'm not sure, I guess I need to write more and find out.


    I glanced at Benjamin as I raised my hand.

    “Yes, Ms. Everburn?”

    I glanced down slightly. “I need to use the restroom...” It was taking all I had to hold back the vomit.

    “Can it wait?”

    “N... no...” I covered my mouth and closed my eyes. Not now... don’t... don’t... throw up... I was still looking down.

    The teacher was still silent.

    I whimpered very quietly.

    He seemed to sigh. “Fine, Ms. Everburn, go ahead, but don’t forget the pa-”

    I was in too much of a hurry to grab the hall pass.

    I barely noticed the look Benjamin gave me as I ran out.

    “No running!”

    Too late.

    “Kids these days,” he mumbled.

    I barely made it, vomiting into the toilet. At that, a sigh left me. How am I supposed to explain to Beni what happened..? Not only was I vomiting but... I had managed to secretly buy a test.

    There was no doubt about it.

    I was pregnant.

    And I know I lightly touched on the pregnancy before in this forum but I want to hear some thoughts on how everyone else has dealt with this? Also, one of my scenes involves the death of a main character's parent though the parent isn't really mentioned before.


    My head jerked up as I heard a knock. Who’d be at the door this la- My eyes saw the clock. Unless dad lost his key..? But he hasn’t before... I started to stand only to freeze at what I heard next.

    “Police, open up.”

    I swear my heart stopped. It’s only been a few days... they can’t know...

    The news they had, though, was grave.

    I crept down the stairs, mom’s cries echoing.

    “Ma’am, I’m sorry. The robber cut off the alarms, no one knew until it was too late.”

    I froze again. No... not dad... I swallowed before running up to my room to cry.

    We may not have been the closest of families but... we were still a family.

    I... should've been there... he... he offered a tour of his work because I needed to job shadow... I should have gone with him... I should have saved him...


    Finally, there's a chance of there being gay/bi stuff as well. To explain that, I have a feeling there's going to be a triangle where two girls like the same guy and there's a small chance one or both of the girls with also like each other. If the latter... that boy may wind up unlucky if he doesn't choose one or the other. But, on a more serious note, I really do hope the people here can help.

    Thank you for reading this long post.

    - Zina.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  2. Bobby Burrows

    Bobby Burrows Contributor Contributor

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    I glanced at your story, here's what I got..

    It's not a comedy.
    It's a drama.
    There's nothing wrong with it.


    I'm also reminded by your story of something I've seen on popular soap operas in the UK where they run stories like this - The helpline for viewers affected by issues raised in the story.
     
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  3. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    Controversial subjects? Angst and personal drama? Hmmmmm it seems I am welcome here.
    My WIP has plenty of controversial subject stuff planned.
    One of my MCs (Sarah) has bipolar disorder, another (Jade) is both a firm atheist and a lesbian, another (Ashling) is technically blind, and another (Damian) is an agnostic theist.

    Sarah developed strong bipolar symptoms early on in her mid/late teens, and before anyone realised or she began any kind of treatment, she started on an turbulent rebellious streak that basically lost her all her friends, sabotaged her academic record, distanced her from her parents and had her arrested after one too many cases of acting out. The story starts several years after this this, by which point she has successfully gotten her life back on track, and she is now hyper aware of her condition. But unfortunately, her mother has also just died, and the stress presents the threat of relapse.
    During the story, Sarah experiences increasing symptoms, and becomes convinced she is relapsing. Things get weirder and weirder, and she worries she is developing schizophrenic symptoms as well. But unbeknownst to her, she is experiencing the emergence of latent supernatural traits, leading to the inevitable dramatic climax, after which she discovers the truth.

    Jade was involuntarily sired and recruited by one of the vampire houses. After being sired, she fell under the thrall, an influence that drives vampires to act with limited restraint and makes them susceptible to the whims of their sire. She was then essentially raped, being under influence, by her sire, someone she is not actually sexually compatible with. During that time she was also manipulated into killing people. Upon breaking out of their influence, she leaves, but suffers from an identity crisis, depression and sexual repression. She tries to make it own her own, but ultimately loses control of herself. She attempts suicide twice before beginning recovery, and has still not completely recovered several years later at the start of the story.
    As a result of all this, Jade is left fairly cynical and pessimistic, which only reinforces her general atheism. She also believes tentatively that she is bisexual. During the story, she falls in love with Sarah and this helps her realise she is actually a lesbian (albeit, she does still have vague bisexual leanings).

    Ashling is a natural born oracle, a type of sorcerer- oracles are a sort 'neutral' magic user. She is raised to join her family's order, and trained from a relatively early age. As part of their training, almost all oracles undergo a procedure where they enhance their magic with the ability to see visions from the aether, but at the cost of their normal vision. Ashling had generally not taken her training very seriously, but eventually when she comes of age, she agrees to do the procedure. She is, however, conflicted about it, and when the pain of it kicks in, she panics and changes her mind- only, too late. It takes a while for her to get used to and come to terms with it, and she is uncomfortable being differently because of the fact.

    Damian is a natural born witch, the 'dark' abyssal magic users. He is also raised to join the family group, the coven, and also trained from a relatively early age. Damian's coven is one of more traditionalist, and prides itself on civility, responsibility and restraint. They are also a predominantly Christian group, albeit a denomination that takes the occult into consideration. Damian is therefore raised as a Christian, and as a civilised, responsible and restrained individual. It doesn't take him long though to show his individualism, and he subtly acts out against the establishment. He becomes an excellent duelist, and flaunts his casual indifference to the rules, making him somewhat of an idol to many of the younger members of his and other covens. But when he gets older and starts going on serious missions, his attitude begins to change. He stops his public displays and starts to focus on real change, seeing his earlier attitude as naive and juvenile. Eventually, he pushes too far, and is disavowed by the coven.
    Damian goes his own, determined to actually make a difference. He maintains his Christian faith from his upbringing, but develops an attitude of doubt, resolving simply to believe in something worthwhile.
     
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  4. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    To actually address your stuff,

    This shouldn't be too hard to do. Abuse comes in many forms so you have room to fine tune it to make it work. The act of it is also not really controversial, as most people are relatively clear on it being bad.
    I would be careful not to make it overdramatic, or unnecessarily brutal, or on the opposite end, to trivialise it.

    This could be inserted in with nothing but a couple lines. Again, plenty of options to make it work.

    I believe I commented on this one before.

    Parent deaths are kind of cliche, so be careful with this one. You don't want it to be a token tragedy, but you also probably don't want to make it super dramatic and central to the story (as that may come off as an uninteresting focus).

    I am all in favour of gay/bi stuff. I have more than couple such characters in my WIP.
    Gay/bi stuff should be fairly safe as long as you portray characters as real people and don't do anything very weird with it.
     
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  5. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    Thank you, everyone, for all your replies. Also in reply to DK3654...

    The death incident does bring Stella and Ben closer because they're the two who have lost a parent and this eventually leads to more so, in a sense, without this Star would come along a lot later, or never. Stel, as you can tell, is blaming herself and stopped being as, well, like herself for the longest time. Ben was the key to helping her cope. Sure, Xita was there as a shoulder to lean on but she didn't know what it was like.

    Yeah, it's a slice-of-life with maybe the occasional comedy incident but it does have a lot of drama.

    So far, it's only mentioned in the one line, but I've been thinking of ways to insert it. Such as maybe:

    I noticed Benjamin adjust his sleeves.

    Usually, he didn't wear them past his elbows.

    Something must have happened.

    I pulled him aside at lunch. "Beni?"

    He looked away.

    "Ben."

    A sigh escaped him.

    "Benjamin..?"

    He looked away.

    I clenched my fists for a few moments. "Why don't you fight back?"

    "W-what?"

    I'd forgotten that he didn't know I knew. "Your dad." Before he could react, I had pulled up his sleeve, a long cut visible. I fell silent, shock and disgust on my face. "What the f-ck did he do..?"

    Ben sighed again and covered it once more. "Beer... drunk man plus a broken bottle and little patience equals injured son..."

    I pursed my lips, mad at Mr. Blake. H-ll, he didn't even deserve to be adressed like that. "He's dead."

    He slowly shook his head, sighing. "It's... not worth discovery..."

    "But-"

    "Stel." He looked into my eyes. "Please..."

    I fell silent before wrapping my arms around him.

    He slowly returned the hug.​
     
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  6. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    Just write a great story. Don't write a treatise on a certain topic. If you're writing about two people of the same sex who love each other, then fine. If there is somebody out there who disagrees with it happening, that's not part of your book. Or, you can actually include a character with that point of view, somebody who tells them that those two can't be together because so and so. But you don't have to put controversy in your book. It could just be a story about two people in love.
    For the record, the topics you've mentioned are not controversial at all, they exist in books and make great stories.
     
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  7. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    Okay, thank you, I just don't tend to see them, maybe because the libraries I check out at generally only show banned books one month a year and those books are usually what deal with those. Basically, I have more video experience with that stuff than I do reading. Thank you.
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    To be honest of those topics only abuse is controversial (it can be an issue for amazon/publishers and then only if it involves a minor) .. pregnancy, parental death and gay/bi topics are common place​
     
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  9. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    Ah. Well, Ben is about 17-18 at the start.
     
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  10. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    Hmmmm blaming yourself for a death is personally something I think is overdone. Most of the time, it's totally irrational for people to do so, and while it is good to have characters be irrational sometimes, it could come off as a lazy way of doing grief.
    Just make sure you put some thought into it, and the character should probably more than just 'I miss them' and 'it's all my fault!'. If they're going to have a strong reaction like blaming themselves, it's probably going to be more complicated.
    EDIT: Another reaction you could touch upon is regret for things they didn't get to do, things that weren't said. Disorientation is also good.

    Yeah, you could absolutely do that.
     
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  11. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    Thank you for your feedback. And she isn't really known to be the most rational of the group. To compare her to another, she's like a highschool Mabel Pines with superpowers and a rich family or like Pinkie Pie the way she 'deflates' (she just becomes her opposite pretty much in terms of emotions when stuff strikes).
     
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  12. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I agree with most of the responders here. Pregnancy happens. People like to slide around all over each other and pregnancy results. Child abuse happens too, much as we wish it didn't. Death happens, nothing we can do about it. Now, if you want to try something controversial, how about a racist protagonist? A sympathetic serial killer, such as " Arsenic and Old Lace."
     
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  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    It sounds like your library may have a pretty puritanical book selection process, because those things definitely appear in a lot of books.
     
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  14. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    Wow. One like me would never have known if it weren't for you.

    One of the characters is Asian and another might be a bit black so there might be racist people in it but those two mentioned are MCs so no racist protag. ^^
     
  15. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    No saying racists have to be white. Racism is an opinion that anyone can have. Just sayin it would be a bold step.
     
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  16. StarFyre

    StarFyre Member

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    True that. And... I just realized that the father of two of the MCs (they're stepbrothers) is racist. Even though the first son's mom was a black-mix (something like that) he said "she betta not be a nigga" when Ben (younger brother) mentioned getting a girl pregnant... a move I didn't expect but that definitely fits him. This also leads to Ben accidentally revealing his powers to his father when his (likely-autistic) brother comes home and asks if he knows that Stella is outside (Ben wanted her close enough to hear if she yells or screams or something). Big bruiser sticks his head out, sees her, and decides he's not gonna be a grandaddy. ._. Ben starts to worry, for obvious reasons, as the dad starts dragging her inside by her hair. Mind you, bad neighborhood and rich girl so no one pays much attention to that. Stella can't seem to activa- I just realized I'm rambling... um... anyway... long story short, Ben knocks his dad out and takes Stel home ASAP. Soon, her parents know. And I feel like the dad ends up arrested so... yay for that bit.
     

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