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  1. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Making my character love her capture?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Mar 19, 2017.

    In my urban fantasy WIP, my MC is a mortal girl named Nina (for now). She, her sister Tess, and eight other girls are kidnapped and held prisoner in a demon's mansion.

    Tentatively, the motive for this is that the demon, Dimitri, is heir to the "throne" of the demon world. But before he can take his place, he must marry. I haven't decided why he's choosing humans yet, but that's what he does. He puts these women through a series of tests, eliminating (though I'm not sure if that means killing or releasing with no memories) the worst performing woman after each trial. In the end, it is Tess, Nina, and a third prisoner. They manage to escape and the third is killed. Dimitri corners the sisters and Nina, corrupted by the idea of power, kills her own sister. This act (mixed with blood magic) turns her into a demon herself, and she marries Dimitri and rules the demon world with him.

    The plan was just that -- Nina becomes corrupted by the idea of power. She'd been so overshadowed by her sister that she wanted something to call her own. Something to make her stand out and important. However, on further review, I kind of like the idea that she falls in love with Dimitri, in the same way that Phoebe falls in love with Cole on Charmed.

    However! It's been pointed out on a couple occasions that having Nina fall in love with Dimitri could be viewed as very destructive, almost enabling and encouraging abusive relationships. And that's definitely not something I want to do.

    Is there any possible way I could make them fall in love without condoning such things? Or am I just going to have to scrap the idea of love all together?

    Thanks!
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, it sounds like they're both pretty evil, right? Twisted, damaged, etc.?

    I don't think that's the same as if a sane, good person falls in love with her evil captor. I could never accept that, but two evil people getting together? Sure, why not?
     
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  3. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    So your story can't depict abusive relationships but it can depict murder, fratricide, and betrayal?
     
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  4. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That being said, I'm, a little against the love affair myself, not because it "encourages abusive relationships" but because I think it could detract from the main theme here, which is about a "normal" girl discovering the darkness in herself. If you turn the story into the girl falling in love with the demon, it becomes less about her, and more about the demon. I think it's substantially less compelling, and also makes it more difficult for the reader to look at the demon as a metaphor, if he so chooses.
     
  5. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Contributing Member

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    Stockholm syndrome?
     
  6. HistoricalScience

    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    My first thought was brainwashing. There's an entire science on how to break down the human psyche and convince/trick them into believing anything. After reading the full post though, I'm not sure that's where you're headed but thought I'd mention it anyway.
     
  7. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    It isn't immediately revealed that Nina is a "bad" person. She's quiet, introverted, and takes her natural flight instinct to the extreme. She avoids all conflict, plugging her ears until it's over. But internally, she has a deep desire to stand up for herself, fight back, and often has cruel thoughts, especially against her sister. It's a slow transformation, one made by the help of Dimitri. The tests he puts them through brings out her inner strength, her inner "evil" almost. It starts with her starting to speak up for herself, but fully comes into play in a particularly gruesome scene (at least to me).

    The girls are playing capture the flag (mundane, I know), but it's no-holds-barred. Trickery and violence are accepted and almost encouraged. There's a character, Mallory, that has been a front-runner to win the entire "game" because of how brutal she is. And she finds Nina to be a threat (because Dimitri has given her special attention), so she is often singling her out in cruel ways. In capture the flag, Mallory and Nina find each other on different teams. When they encounter each other on the field, they fight and Nina overpowers her. Even after disabling her, Nina looks up, sees Dimitri watching her, and, spurred by his teachings, continues to beat Mallory until she's unconscious and bloody. But she doesn't feel any regret or guilt over it. Just pride.

    That's the real turning point for her, but it doesn't happen until at least the second half of the book. And she doesn't fully give into it until the end, when she kills her sister. She still struggles to hold on, to remain sane, and escape. It isn't until she's faced with killing her sister or killing Dimitri that she realizes what she really wants.

    Does that still count as two evil people getting together? o_O

    But would it make it more difficult though? It then becomes Tess versus Dimitri. Light versus dark. Good versus evil. Dimitri would embody the evil that Nina chooses, the corruption that she accepts openly. I definitely wouldn't make their connection a Twilight kind of love. It would be more about temptation, lust, greed. A taboo connection that she can't fight. There would be very little romanticism or sweetness about it. Would that still throw you?

    I had definitely planned on mentioning it. They are actually captured by a demon named Thad, Dimitri's lackey. He goes into the world, makes connections with the women, and chooses them based on what he learns about them. Tess and Thad are actually a couple before the story starts. During their captivity, Thad sticks around to help Dimitri, but his feelings for Tess never go away. Throughout the story, they continue to connect and Thad even attempts to break her out. Nina constantly chastises Tess about it and explains how it's simply Stockholm Syndrome.

    Then later, when Nina starts to realize her "feelings" for Dimitri, she would remember the conversation she had with Tess and how she's probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome herself.

    Yeah, I wouldn't actually call it brainwashing. He doesn't make her think this is what she wants and doesn't break her into believing it.. It's just who she is, and he brings it out of her.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  8. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as it's not presented as a healthy, desirable relationship, I'd be fine with it. I wouldn't want to see an abusive relationship glorified, but I don't want to pretend they don't exist, either.
     
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  9. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree it could work. There's something more uncomfortable about a character being seduced by evil, which seems more in line with what you're describing here, than discovering their own evil nature. That doesn't make it any less literary.
     
  10. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I would say as long as they don't live happily ever after, it's not really a problem, because then you aren't 'glamourising' an abusive relationship.
     
  11. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pah, a decent author would trap you in a paragraph, and you find yourself yearning for fangs, his trident, the blood of sacrificial infants pooled in buckets and served as black pudding. Your micro-business probably.
     
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  12. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure why the concern. Isn't every relationship with a demon, real or figurative, by definition destructive?
     
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  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, the relationship in Buffy between Faith and the Mayor was really quite mutually supportive, respectful, and positive. Given that they were both evil murderers, and he was literally a demon, it's disturbing that it was one of the most solid and loving relationships on the show.

    Edited to add: But he didn't kidnap her. She applied to work for him. By, I believe, murdering the employees that she hoped to replace.
     
  14. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It was also a lot more of a father-daughter love than it looks like the OP was going for ;)
     
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  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    @Lea`Brooks I don't care how you frame the relationship. This book sounds fucking awesome! A bachelor competition backlit by demons, power, seduction, and jealous sisters? Do whatever works, please.
     
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  16. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributing Member

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    Agreed - I always thought the father/child relationship of Faith and The Mayor was supposed to mirror that of Buffy and Giles.
     
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  17. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    My hope is that it'll come off as both. That she's seduced by evil, but it only succeeds because she already had it in her to begin with. Dimitri just gives her the outlet and the encouragement to release it and be herself.

    Thank you! :D You're the second person to say you really like the idea. So I guess I'd better put my current WIP away and work on this one, huh? :p It'll definitely be quicker since I don't plan on a sequel!


    BTW, I've never watched Buffy, so I have no idea what y'all are talking about. o_O
     
  18. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're dead to me.

    ... In all some seriousness, Buffy is one of the single greatest television series of all time. If you ever find yourself with 2 weeks to spare an hour and a half of television time a day, you should watch the 12 episodes of Season 1 (be prepared for some cheesiness that's So Bad, It's Good) and the first 14 episodes of Season 2, then tell me that Season 2 does not set the stage for more a compelling story than most books :)

    And try to avoid any more spoilers if at all possible. I know that it was 20 years ago, but I went in a virgin, and it was so much better than if I'd known everything ahead of time.
     
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  19. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm sure they say that about the Beauty and the Beast, too, but it's still an extremely loved love story.

    Nina seems like a bit of a mess. Like Harley Quinn level of a mess, so her falling in love with her captor doesn't sound far-fetched based on what you just told, and I'd probably roll with it considering fucked up people can end up having fucked up affairs. Just watch something like Natural Born Killers. The love story of Mickey and Mallory is crazy, but they are portrayed as cut from the same cloth, so perhaps Dmitri and Nina are as well, and they'll make a great couple -- for a while anyway until they end up destroying each other I'd guess -- that will still horrify the reader rather than make them go "oh that's so cute and romantic!" In the case of M & M, Mallory actually didn't seem all that evil in the beginning, but she definitely had an unpredictable streak. Mickey then brought it out, and they ended up feeding each others' violent tendencies.

    Delving into the psychology of falling in love with the bad guy can be an interesting trip. If you stay true to the motivations of your characters, I think you'll be fine. I doubt you'd use an intrusive narrative voice to hit the reader over the head with "hey, this is bad you know." Most of us know it's fucked up. Now show us how someone could fall in love with their demon captor 'cause that sounds hell interesting. I honestly can't see you of all people writing this in a way that'd glorify or glamorize violence and abuse.
     
  20. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @KaTrian broaches a point that I had wanted to.

    I think there's a difference between evil and being mentally sick (a Wall Street banker is evil, a serial killer is sick). I'm not going to claim I know the exact differences or that I know how those differences will play into a character who falls in love with a demon and kills other girls in a house, including her own sister, but I do think the author of such a story will have to work to differentiate the differences for us.
     
  21. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Reading books about serial killer couples might shine some light on this. I'd recommend 'Killer Couples' by Tammy Cohen. The lengths seemingly normal people are willing to go for their lover are disturbing. Sacrificing your sister just to please your psychopath boyfriend is just one story among many.
     
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  22. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The accepted definition of insane is that – due to a mental illness or defect – you were unable to conform your actions to the laws of society, either due to an inability to recognize the wrongfulness of your actions or because your compulsion was uncontrollable.

    Serial killers are sickening in the sense that what they do is horrifying and has no place is a decent world, but the vast majority of them aren't sick in the sense of not knowing what they're doing or of not being able to stop themselves.
     
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  23. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if you killed only a few people over a number of years, found a decent way to dispose of bodies, you might still get a girlfriend afterwards? A pen-pal?
     
  24. Centauri Rose

    Centauri Rose Member

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    Study Stockholm Syndrome
     
  25. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    Is there a way you can put a little distance between Dimitri and all the horrible shit that's going on? Frame it in a way that makes him a participant in a series of inevitable events that he couldn't stop even if he wanted to? You said he has to marry to assume the throne--maybe there's a king or overlord (Dimitri's father?) that has set up this competition and Dimitri has no choice but to play along. He could still be invested and willing, but maybe not responsible exactly? I'm almost picturing a Roman emperor setting up an elaborate bloodbath in the Colosseum to benefit his heir's succession and the heir is like, "Meh, what do want from me? This is how we always do it." It doesn't excuse anything but it might give you enough wiggle room to sell the idea in other ways.
     

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