Hated plots

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Silver

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #45 on: December 31, 2017, 09:18:29 AM »
Circumstances around the incident (especially that it was in the context of an already abusive relationship that I could've left but knowingly chose not to) probably affect why I reacted that way and wasn't more traumatized, but my point is just that not everyone is equally affected by it and that the reverse cliché also exists and seems quite foreign to some survivors. (Gah...I hate that term...it wasn't attempted murder...)

@True Neutral - as someone who was extremely upset by the above statement, I have taken several weeks to consider how to respond to you (or whether to respond at all) - and I finally think I am at a place mentally where I can respond in a calm and rational manner.

Elsewhere, you have accused people of invalidating your own experiences... and yet, your own words here invalidate mine. If you don't like the term 'survivor' then that's perfectly fine, it's just a word. But 'it wasn't attempted murder...'? Really? I spent years wishing that my rapist had just killed me, instead of violating me and destroying me mentally, the way that he did. Ten years of flashbacks and nightmares and living with the fear that he would come back for me, and hating myself, and always feeling dirty, and never being able to form proper relationships with people because of the emotional damage he did. For me, that is far, far worse than attempted murder.

And I get what point you were trying to make. I have met many... victims... survivors... whatever you want to call them. Some carry deep psychological scars. Some manage to more or less shrug it off and are relatively unaffected. And many are in between. There's no right or wrong way to react to something like that.

But just as it's not right for me to say to you: "You should be angry, you should be traumatised", it's not right for you to come along and make statements like 'I hate that term...it wasn't attempted murder...' For two reasons: 1) You have no idea how other people have been affected by rape and sexual assault, and 2) whether it was your intention or not, that statement strongly implies 'Get over it'. "Oh, it was no big deal, wasn't like he tried to murder you, get over it". Not okay. Not acceptable. Your point could have been made very well without that final statement, which comes as extremely condescending.

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Tyrannohotep

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #46 on: December 31, 2017, 10:38:15 AM »
While we're on the topic of rape vis a vis attempted murder, I want to add that I might have been a victim of attempted murder. As in, one night at the mall, I had a guy come at me with a knife for checking out his girlfriend. Thankfully the girlfriend in question pushed me away before he could touch me, but before then he boldly declared that he would kill me. It was a scary experience, but I wouldn't say it was necessarily worse than rape.

I mean, I've never been raped, and since I'm a man, it's not something I expect to happen to me anytime soon. But if someone did rape me, I would probably feel even worse than I did that night. Some of it would admittedly be humiliation since, again, it's not something men are expected to suffer in our culture. However, I suspect I'd also feel many of the same emotions that many female rape victims (e.g. @Silver) go through. I can't say that kind of trauma would scar me less than the one night someone set out to kill me but failed.
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True Neutral

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #47 on: January 01, 2018, 08:07:54 AM »
And I get what point you were trying to make. I have met many... victims... survivors... whatever you want to call them. Some carry deep psychological scars. Some manage to more or less shrug it off and are relatively unaffected. And many are in between. There's no right or wrong way to react to something like that.

Looking at it in media (as a whole, not just literature, but also visual and interactive media, not one specific genre), there seem to be a couple of tropes in regard to victim reactions.

1. The deep psychological scars, worse-fate-than-death trope. (There are actually several tropes that overlap this, depending how it turns out.)
2. The "suddenly changes sexuality" trope, arguably one of the several tropes covered above. (Called "Rape and Switch" on TVTropes.)

That's it. As far as I can tell, there is no trope for the other end of the spectrum. It's generally not shown. Most cases I've seen of a story not dealing directly with massive emotional trauma after rape as a plot point typically do so because it's not the focus of the story as a whole (Perhaps it's about catching the rapist and focused mostly on the detectives or perhaps it's a plot point in the context of a story about a wider conflict or just by the wayside in a general Crapsack World. More or less, the reason boils down to "we're not focusing on this character that much."), rather than in the context of someone who manages to move on relatively unaffected. (Examples can be found on TV Tropes. "Sexual Harassment and Rape Tropes" is a category under "Topical.") For whatever reason, managing to move on relatively unscathed seems to be perceived as the wrong way to depict it in fiction.

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Silver

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #48 on: January 01, 2018, 09:45:17 AM »
@True Neutral: Wow, way to ignore the rest of my comment, but anyway...

As a reader (or viewer) I tend to get annoyed when rape is casual thrown around as a plot device with no real consequences because it's is lazy. If there are no real effects, why even put it in there in the first place unless for shock value or as a lazy attempt to make us feel pity for a character? In my opinion, it is one of those subjects that either needs to have a purpose/change a character in some way, or just leave it out altogether.

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True Neutral

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #49 on: January 01, 2018, 10:28:49 AM »
As a reader (or viewer) I tend to get annoyed when rape is casual thrown around as a plot device with no real consequences because it's is lazy. If there are no real effects, why even put it in there in the first place unless for shock value or as a lazy attempt to make us feel pity for a character? In my opinion, it is one of those subjects that either needs to have a purpose/change a character in some way, or just leave it out altogether.

The thing is that "you can't show that kind of victim" also sends the message to "that kind of victim" and others that they're somehow not traumatized enough, not enough of a victim, if it doesn't completely derail their lives. I don't see a reason why that end of the spectrum should be totally cut off from representation in media, that it should be so taboo for a character to say "yeah...it happened...I'm fine."

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Silver

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #50 on: January 01, 2018, 10:50:03 AM »
The thing is that "you can't show that kind of victim" also sends the message to "that kind of victim" and others that they're somehow not traumatized enough, not enough of a victim, if it doesn't completely derail their lives. I don't see a reason why that end of the spectrum should be totally cut off from representation in media, that it should be so taboo for a character to say "yeah...it happened...I'm fine."

Well... you can. There are no rules to say you can't. And people have done it. But a lot of readers don't like it, and for good reasons.

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JayLee

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #51 on: January 01, 2018, 12:36:50 PM »
Just want to pop something in here.... not to really enter this hairy conversation. But since you are talking about all this as an actual literary device by mentioning the tropes here.... I've read enough books to see reactions across the whole spectrum by now. I have actually seen both extremes and the middle used very well at least once. I have also seen all done very poorly. There is no taboo, or hard and fast rule saying a character has to be severely affected. But, a large number of instances I've seen where the plot device was used incorrectly, happen to correlate with those cases as well. This is simply becuase (often green) writers have useed this plot device solely for the shock value. Many writers have somehow got it fixed in their head that their character has to experience something horrible like that to become a strong character, or that it's somehow a requried trope for their genre, or that it's the easiest way to add drama to your book and get your readers to care. No, no and again... well no.

It's an incredibly complicated trope, and people will most often go the most comfortable route. That would be either dropping the matter a chapter later and saying their character was merely unaffected, or centralizing the rest of their book on the trauma. Honestly, neither of those are good usages in my opinion. For the first one, a plot device is useless and simply taking up space if there are zero consequences. Even if the character heals very quickly mentally (which is definitely a very valid experience), there has to have been a reason for the event to occur. That's where my real issue with it comes in. It may be for fear of avoiding this trap (which is in many ways the worse of the two, not having a reason for the plot device, I mean) that most representative literature veers strongly in the other direction. But a book can suffer just as badly if the character never begins to try and cope. If they just show the same symptoms over and over through the rest of the story, but never begin to process anything which has occurred. Humans have a tendency to heal, all at different paces (And again, this is a very very valid experience), but there has to be some sign in the story that that's true. Otherwise, once again, it can become very difficult to justify the reason.

As an editor, I simply have no fear nor qualms anymore about telling people to rethink that whole aspect of their book. If the reason isn't there, if the impact and consequences are far too shallow to have an impact on the plot, any trope or literary device should be eyed with the same scrutiny for removal.

I feel like I did not make any semblance of a point there, but eh. For a writer, I certainly am less than eloquent.
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Manu

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #52 on: January 01, 2018, 01:00:26 PM »
The thing is that "you can't show that kind of victim" also sends the message to "that kind of victim" and others that they're somehow not traumatized enough, not enough of a victim, if it doesn't completely derail their lives. I don't see a reason why that end of the spectrum should be totally cut off from representation in media, that it should be so taboo for a character to say "yeah...it happened...I'm fine."
If it's not addressed at all, the reader can't tell whether the author was just too lazy to consider longterm consequences, or whether there was intent behind it. And since being traumatized in some way is way more common than not being affected at all, it comes across as being too lazy to address it.
Even if an author wants to represent a resilient person after rape, I'd expect them to address trauma in some way. Maybe the victim/survivor wonders why they weren't affected more by the incident, maybe they go see a therapist and find out they don't need one, whatever. But if it's not addressed at all, it easily looks like bad research by a lazy author, simply because trauma is the more common response. That's just the way how fiction works - if you represent the rare thing, you need to do it well, and you need to explain it. Resilient victims are a minority, and minorities tend to get poor representation in media. It's sad, but it's a fact.

@ "survivor" term: The reasoning behind that term is not comparing rape or sexual harassment to murder. It's got something to do with the way our brains work, and how language can influence our subconscious, and it's often a part of the way to healing.
"victim" is passive, being a "victim" means there's nothing one can do about their situation, it means being powerless, and that the responsibility is elsewhere. Being a "victim" implies defining oneself by one's past, it means looking back.
Calling oneself a "survivor" instead is about empowerment. It means bad things happened, and that's unchangeable and unfair, but now it's one's own responsibility to take care of oneself. It's about reprogramming the subconscious to feeling empowered, about integrating one's past into the self, and about carrying on. Being a "survivor" means accepting the past, but not defining oneself by it, it means looking forward.
It has been shown many times that using positive, empowering terms to express the same thing does help reprogramm the subconscious and helps feeling better in the long run, whether one suffers from trauma, depression, or other issues. That's what the term "survivor" is about.
(I hope this makes sense at all, I find it hard to put this in words in a language that's not my native one)
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Silver

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #53 on: January 01, 2018, 03:03:18 PM »
As an editor, I simply have no fear nor qualms anymore about telling people to rethink that whole aspect of their book. If the reason isn't there, if the impact and consequences are far too shallow to have an impact on the plot, any trope or literary device should be eyed with the same scrutiny for removal.

I actually thought you explained that in a great way. Personally I have two characters who experienced quite a high level of abuse as children - one physical and mental, the other physical and sexual. The first character has obviously developed quite severe mental health problems as a result of it - anger issues, abandonment issues, paranoia and self hatred. He also has nightmares. None of these things are explicitly stated, they just are a key part of what makes his character who he is - the good and the bad - and it explains how he met and is tied to some of the other key characters in the series. 

My second character, Cory, grew up in an assassin's guild during the time when it was run by a brutal sadistic psychopath. I won't go into detail, but he (among others) suffered quite a bit at the hands of this man, from a very young age. And yet, when my stories take place and he is in his late teens, he is relatively unaffected. The odd nightmare, the occasional distraction technique if asked too much about his childhood, but that's it. And the reason for that is a combination of two things: 1) It was normal in that particular environment and so to some degree he has been desensitised, and 2) it's his whole personality. He is happy, he is easy-going, his attitude is 'Yes, some bad things happened to me, but I am safe now and there are people far worse off than I am'. He is more interested in having adventures and being with his friends, and being happy now than he is on dwelling on the past.

And I feel like that is a valid way. Because some people are like that. But the key thing is, it's not a huge part of either the storyline of my novels, or who the character is as a person. It just happens to be a small part of his background. And I think that's key.

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Tyrannohotep

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #54 on: January 01, 2018, 03:20:20 PM »
While we're on the subject on how rape affects its victims, I want to ask a question about a random idea I've had stored in the back of my head for some time.

I once considered creating a character whose mother abused him because she had conceived him from rape. At the time, it seemed plausible because the child's existence would represent an unwanted burden to the mother. However, the idea of a rape victim becoming an abusive mother somehow doesn't seem PC, as it would be portraying that character in a negative light. Furthermore, I'd have to explain why the woman didn't abort or give away the child if she really didn't want him around.

What are your thoughts on this?
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Sheepy-Pie

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #55 on: January 01, 2018, 03:27:36 PM »
@Tyrannohotep Screw PC. That scenario would happen in real life, so as long as you handle it well and it isn't there for no reason, it's fine. So what if it puts the character in a negative light, not everyone is a saint. Perhaps the mother got pushed into keeping the child by family and she thought she could handle it, and then she gets PPD on top of all her feelings. It could happen. Seriously being a new parent is hard, and hormones are wild and it turning into an abusive situation wouldn't surprise me, especially if the baby has a trait from the father, perhaps their ears or nose looks just like theirs?

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Manu

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #56 on: January 01, 2018, 04:13:42 PM »
What Sheepy-Pie says - it's a very realistic scenario that sadly happens in real life, I even know someone who has experienced exactly this. Physical and emotional abuse, not sexual abuse, though, in the case I'm thinking about.
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bdcharles

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #57 on: January 02, 2018, 06:23:16 PM »
The one that gets me most in a fantasy context is the endless quests to anywhere. I wouldn't say I hated it but this did me in a bit with Earthsea - Ged goes here, there and everywhere too often, for too many reasons, and too fast, for me to get a sense of discovery. Whereas with, say, Lord of the Rings, they have one job, one quest, and everything being in service of that lends it the scope it deserves. I dunno. It was a shame because I love Ursula K. LeGuin's style.

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katfireblade

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #58 on: January 02, 2018, 09:09:21 PM »
While we're on the subject on how rape affects its victims, I want to ask a question about a random idea I've had stored in the back of my head for some time.

I once considered creating a character whose mother abused him because she had conceived him from rape. At the time, it seemed plausible because the child's existence would represent an unwanted burden to the mother. However, the idea of a rape victim becoming an abusive mother somehow doesn't seem PC, as it would be portraying that character in a negative light. Furthermore, I'd have to explain why the woman didn't abort or give away the child if she really didn't want him around.

What are your thoughts on this?

Go for it. The big important thing to me would be to not turn her into a stereotype. Know your PTSD and whatever other mental or physical issues have broken her and really portray them well. Abuse is scary. Villains that a reader can look at and realize "there but for the grace of God go I" are much scarier. It also sets up a nice inner conflict where her son might love and pity her, even while he hates and fears her. This is actually more common than you'd think with abuse victims.

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Hated plots
« Reply #59 on: January 06, 2018, 10:35:27 AM »
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