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Fantasy Writers

HELP! Plot thoughts & Hard Topics

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  • #152474
    Adnyole
    @adnyole

    Hey, so I am working on an outline for a story about an African teen named Ambrose whose fictional tribe was basically annihilated by rebels, and he gets caught on the edge of an explosion that scars his face which leads him to Medical personal Yona and his Irish wife Lydia “Bibi Miti”. After a series of events Ambrose, Yona and Lydia enter this doorway to a world I have not yet named. The territory they land in is similar to Africa, but a number of differences help the characters distinguish it from Earth. They then get captured and enslaved by one of the tribes living there. And escape later yada yada….

    Originally, they were to be there for over a year, but I ran into a conundrum because one of the things that raises the stakes during the escape is that Lydia is pregnant with her master’s child. I thought on looking at how that effects her intimacy with her husband but then felt that was not my story to tell and might be a little on the nose; however, I’m not sure if I should scrap the idea fully (which lowers my stakes and the emotional weight) or just take it another direction and then figure out what direction that is. If I make the baby Yona’s then I will either have to decrease the time in captivity which will hinder language learning, or keep the pair together in captivity which erases some of the emotional weight of their slavery and will limit the character arc I wanted. I’ve been praying about it but am still not sure. I want to be cognizant of other people’s sensibilities and weaknesses (and my own) around sensitive stuff but not gloss over the hard topics in life. I’ve read some great authors who could pull it off and hope I could do the same but I am not sure I can. Anyone got any thoughts or insights on that, that would be great. Any thoughts on how to approach loss of one’s people, slavery and ancestry would also be appreciated. Thanks

    #152480
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    @adnyole

    Hey! *waves* I haven’t been on here for probably a year, so I don’t think we’ve met.

    I think your story sounds really intriguing.

    I am sure you have already thought of a few of these, but I will throw them out there anyway.

    You could always show the loss of intimacy through Lydia’s emotions instead of actions. She could be heartbroken by the separation from Yona but at the same time scared because of what happened…scared he will reject her baby, maybe?

    You could also have Yona and Lydia together at the beginning of the captivity and then become separated.

    Or, you could have her not know who the baby’s father is and be scared to tell Yona because she’s not sure it’s his.

    Anyway, hope this was a lil bit helpful and hope you figure it out…I hate time-line issues in stories. XD They are so complicated to fix.

    "If I'm gonna break, I'll break like the dawn." -Nightbirde

    #152488
    solanelle
    @calidris

    @adnyole Hello!  I have a few thoughts 🙂

    Originally, they were to be there for over a year, but I ran into a conundrum because one of the things that raises the stakes during the escape is that Lydia is pregnant with her master’s child. I thought on looking at how that effects her intimacy with her husband but then felt that was not my story to tell and might be a little on the nose; however, I’m not sure if I should scrap the idea fully (which lowers my stakes and the emotional weight) or just take it another direction and then figure out what direction that is.

    Before I get started, I am going to (non-graphically) discuss sexual abuse in this context, so just a heads up in case this is a sensitive topic for you!  Also, I don’t know what your gender is, so I’m just going to address both sides of the issue XD

    So, I guess my question is, what was the context behind the master fathering the child?  Was Lydia completely willfully committing adultery, or was there some kind of force/coercion involved?  I think a lot of people (myself included) would view this kind of relation between a master and slave as a form of sexual abuse/assault, given the extreme power imbalance and the fact that the slave doesn’t have the “right” to refuse.  So for me personally, this is the context in which I would be viewing this plot point (and that’s the perspective I’ll be taking for now as I discuss this, although I do understand that this might not be the case!)  I think that the implications of this plot point make it much more difficult, because this is both a very taboo and sensitive subject, and one that can potentially be triggering or upsetting to readers who are survivors of sexual abuse (depending on how it’s handled).

    Now, I’m personally very sensitive to this topic (even though I haven’t experienced it myself), and find it really viscerally disturbing.  But, I understand that not everyone feels this way!  I think my main concern would lie in the way it’s handled.  This could be a very powerful inclusion if it’s handled appropriately, but if it’s just a way of adding emotional stakes, I think that could be confusing and potentially hurtful to some people.

    I think the main issue is that subject is just so raw and vulnerable for so many people.  However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write about it at all!  Lets say that this was ann issue of some kind of abuse.  How would Lydia handle having to give birth to a child who was conceived out of abuse?  How would Yona feel about having to raise the child of the man who enslaved him and abused his wife?  How does Ambrose see all of this?  He’s still just a teenager, and I think it would be really difficult for him to witness this happen.  What about the child?  He or she might someday find out that their father is either an adulterer or a predator, and that would be a very difficult pill to swallow.  Honestly, there’s some really interesting ways you could develop this, and I think there’s some really cool potential for powerful themes!  However, if this inclusion doesn’t have the impact on the plot it merits (like if it’s just there to add stakes or drama) that could feel very cheap.  I also think that it’s really important to show the lasting effects of this situation, because regardless if it’s abuse or adultery, it’s a very weighty and difficult situation.  If Lydia actively wanted to commit adultery, then I think it’s important to explore what led to her committing this sin, and the lasting impact of that broken trust.  If it was abuse, then I think it’s very important to consider the trauma and lasting psychological effects (especially since she’s in a constant physical awareness of the abuse – her abuser’s baby.)

    Btw, I think that it would be a really great inclusion if it does impact her intimacy with her husband!  I think that would make it feel much more real and impactful in the storyline, and it sounds very realistic (at least from my POV).  It also opens up opportunities to explore themes of shame and healing.  Obviously, if you feel like God is telling you no, then you should listen, but I think that there’s ways of showing this without directly showing the sexual side (like non-sexual forms of intimacy).  Keep praying about it!  If you don’t feel like you should write it, then absolutely don’t, but there are other ways of exploring this issue that might not go against you or your readers consciences 🙂

    I also really like @arindown ‘s idea of Lydia not knowing who fathered the child!

    Also on the subject of “telling other people’s stories:”

    So, for example, I’ve noticed that sometimes male writers tend to not portray this topic with as much care as I (a woman) would prefer.  This isn’t to say that men are insensitive, or bad writers, but I think that it’s just not a daily concern for many of them, so maybe there’s kind of a disconnect there.  Does this mean that men should never ever write about sexual abuse?  Of course not!  Is this sometimes a case of writing a story that isn’t theirs to tell?  I’d argue in some cases, absolutely.

    On the flip side, I am a woman who has never been abused this way.  Is this a story that isn’t mine to tell?  I’d argue in many ways, yes!  It’s certainly not something I feel comfortable writing at this point, because I don’t think I could do the subject justice.  On the other hand, there’s likely many men who could write this subject with more sensitivity than me!  I think in some cases it really has to do with how well it’s developed and how sensitively and carefully it’s portrayed than the experiences of the author, but that’s just my opinion.

    I actually went through something similar a few months ago, when I decided to add something rather heavy/controversial to my own story.  One thing that stood out to me was that it had to impact the plot and character development – I couldn’t include it just because, and if I wanted to include it I had to a. pray about it and b. develop it in light of Biblical truths and compassion 🙂

    Also, SE published a great article on writing about trauma/difficult topics without triggering your readers.  You might want to give it a look!  I found it very interesting and thoughtfully written.

    Hope this helped!  Your story sounds really interesting!

    *laughs as one fey*

    #152491
    Adnyole
    @adnyole

    @calidris Yoh! You just hit the nail on the head! Yeah, this is the type of advice I am looking for. I have literally been wrestling with those types of questions about the character… I definitely have the purpose in mind to show a story of restoration and redemption, definitely not out for willy-nilly here. The context is intended to be one of some form of coercion and then a journey through learning to heal.  I’ve read some amazingly powerful books that didn’t shy from acknowledging the occurrence of sexual trauma while still being extremely tasteful. My ultimate goal is to do something like that and that The Grand Weaver would turn her sorrow into joy. [For the sake of clarity, young woman here: Uni grad. :)] My heart is to come at this from a place of compassion and vulnerability myself. I’m a thinker so I like weighty issues and drawing people into them to find where God is in it all. But, I am aware that it’s very touchy and I, perhaps, am not in a position to write something like this and fair enough. So, I’m trying to work through what I want out of the story, looking at the questions to be answered in the plot and what I can do in good conscience.  If I just scrap the entire plot point, well…  c’est la vie: but then I need something to replace it with if I do that.  I’m struggling with what would be an excellent replacement (no clue) vs simply redirecting my intentions with the plot point. The whole story really centers around the theme of redemption, seeking after God and when we are vulnerable, desperate, and in despair, God is there weaving the story together into something good. So, keeping a strong emotional weightiness and vulnerability is essential to the plot/theme, but how to get that in the right manner: yeah, not sure. Anyway, I’ve put so much world development in this that the last thing I want to do is table the entire story because I can’t get it rolling again– Thanks so much for your input. I really appreciate it 🙂

    #152492
    solanelle
    @calidris

    @adnyole of course!  Thank you for clarifying!  I think it’s great that you’re considering including it – sexual abuse is sadly extremely common in slavery, but it’s not something people like to talk about.  I also think it’s interesting that it was coercion, but not outright force – I think that sometimes people tend to just look at the act itself, rather than the power structures and dynamics that led to this outcome.  I can see how that might add to her shame – she might believe lies that she could’ve prevented it, that it was her fault, etc.

    Obviously, keep praying!  This really is a good area to explore in light of those themes, but it’s still very touchy.

    I’m a thinker so I like weighty issues and drawing people into them to find where God is in it all.

    I’m the exact same way – I tend to write as a means of exploring difficult subjects, and kind of exploring how those issues intersect with faith.  I like exploring topics that I have personal experience with too, and using that as a means of coming to terms with my own experiences and trying to understand them.  So, there’s some subjects I want to explore, and others that I feel would just be too weighty (sexual trauma is one of those, at least for now.)

    One thing that I realized as I decided to explore a touchy subject in my own writing was that if we, as Christians, avoid touchy subjects, then we’re leaving them for the world to portray on it’s own terms – which is not a good thing XD  However, not everyone is called to write about the same subjects, and one subject that might be ok for someone else might not be alright for another Christian to explore.  Keep praying for wisdom and guidance!  Tbh it’s something I’ve been neglecting in my own writing, so I’ll take my own advice XD

    One thing to consider is your target audience, because obviously the level of information appropriate for one audience can often be inappropriate for another demographic.  I’m assuming that this is a YA novel, given that your MC is a teenager!  I don’t think you should should necessarily away from including it is that’s the case, but it’d be much “safer” in an adult book.  Which tbh, I don’t think Christians have to write “safe” books, but whatever we include has to glorify God, and we also have to be mindful of our audience and their convictions.  I think it would help to include a note or trigger warning in the preface of the book to warn the reader beforehand that the story will deal with that.  It’s something I’ll do for my own story if I ever publish it!

    Also, I know two other people here on SE who also explore sexual trauma in their own writing, and I can tag them in this thread if you’d like!  Fair warning – I believe their style and convictions in how they handle it are different than yours and mine, and from what I can see, they’re writing it much more viscerally and graphically than I would personally feel comfortable reading.  However, you might still be interested in seeing some other perspectives!  If not, I totally understand XD

    Also I believe they might be busy at this time, so if they don’t reply, that’s why XD

    *laughs as one fey*

    #152496
    Adnyole
    @adnyole

    @calidris Yeah, I totally agree that Christians should be people who talk about hard topics with grace and truth, in art and in the church, etc. My audience is intended to be adults and mature young adults. Ambrose starts as a teen, but a late teen like 18/19 or so, and by the time we make it to enslavement he is likely going to be a year or two older: 19/20/21. It is quite the process that goes on for them to world jump if you will. That said, I myself have certain sensitivities around sexual content, so I am really going to be cognisant of that and intend to tread carefully. I would definitely focus more on the responses to the abuse rather than the act of abuse itself. I will consider a preface… that is a good idea. And I would love it if you tagged those other writers. I can’t do what they do, but they likely have a great understanding of where to draw lines and personal conviction limits etc. Would you have any thoughts on what could replace this plot point, if I find I need to do so, that still carries some weight to it? As stated before, I am struggling to come up with an alternative if it proves that that is what I need to do.

    #152497
    solanelle
    @calidris

    My audience is intended to be adults and mature young adults.

    Good to know!

    That said, I myself have certain sensitivities around sexual content, so I am really going to be cognisant of that and intend to tread carefully. I would definitely focus more on the responses to the abuse rather than the act of abuse itself.

    That is a very wise decision, and I think that by avoiding focusing on the act itself, you’ll be much less likely to trigger your readers!

    Also:


    @jared-williams
    has two characters who both experienced sexual trauma (I actually think both were in some kind of slavery).  He’s also exploring themes surrounding that, and the lasting impact of that hurt (but not without offering hope in our Redeemer!)


    @this-is-not-an-alien
    also has a character who I believe was almost assaulted, and that’s one cause of a lot of his trauma.

    Idk if they’ll be able to respond or not, but if they do, I’ll be interested to hear what they have to say!

    Would you have any thoughts on what could replace this plot point, if I find I need to do so, that still carries some weight to it? As stated before, I am struggling to come up with an alternative if it proves that that is what I need to do.

    I do, actually!  One thought that came to mind would be to have Lydia, or even another member of the party, have to escape while ill or injured.  So, maybe they ended up severely injured or maimed because of abuse or negligence (saying, a whipping or beating, or maybe an accident involving faulty tools.)  While this character will eventually heal, there might be permanent scars or disability, which could not only hinder their escape but also cause a lot of hurt and bitterness.  I think it would be especially difficult if this character started out very strong and healthy, and maybe unwittingly placed a lot of confidence in their health.  So in this case, the themes could revolve around healing (both physical and emotional/spiritual), and on forgiveness.

    Another thing to consider would be the technological development in this alternate world.  Is this world less technologically advanced, more technologically advanced, or at about the same level as their home land?  If this alternate world is less technologically advanced, then easily treatable sickness or injury could become disastrous (say, if there’s no access to antibiotics).  If the alternate world is really similar to their homeland, someone might be aware of medicinal herbs or natural remedies (like honey being antibacterial, etc.), but that can only go so far in the case of serious illness or injury, especially because they’re escaping!

    Or, if it’s more technologically advanced, then the party will have to deal with how this technology might be used to track them or hunt them down…

     

    *laughs as one fey*

    #152499
    Adnyole
    @adnyole

    @calidris

    That is a very wise decision, and I think that by avoiding focusing on the act itself, you’ll be much less likely to trigger your readers!

    Agreed. I really care about emotional impact in my writing on all levels.

    have to escape while ill or injured.

    That is actually in the story too. 😛 Lydia was intended to trigger the escape so someone from ‘her’ household raises the alarm. Ambrose takes an arrow to the shoulder and because the Kisi tribe uses arrows shaped like corkscrews, they can’t get it out, so they break off the shaft, so it forms an abscess, then the abscess eventually leaks the infection causing him to go into hyperthermia in the jungle. Yona breaks a hand later during a second chase (Kisi are hunters, they don’t give up so easily). Zurrun is the only local slave a descendant of the Lavya [Western] Kappi (Not to be confused with the Nyorro [North] or Adiya [East] Kappi) with whom the Kisi have warred for ages, so he ends up being the leader. Like the whole escape is just chaos and it takes days to reach the ‘safety’ of the jungle and the village Zurrun knows to be friendly/physicians is hard to find, and further than he thought, and then it gets dark and then Ambrose gets his hyperthermia so Zurrun has to go on his own and find help. All the main characters experience something on the way out so we can see what the Grand Weaver does with each of them. So, why was Lydia intended to be pregnant… I think because she becomes the rallying point for the group, to protect her and get to safety. They have to travel slower for her, but this gives them time to learn from Zurrun and keeps Ambrose from pushing himself too hard thus causing the infection to set in sooner. Then Lydia goes into labor, forcing them to hurry which is important because the village is further than thought, and then as Ambrose starts getting feverish/delirious it forces Zurrun to leave and find the village. It saves Ambrose’s life because they bring him there just as things would be getting critical. Yeah…..

    A lot of timing stuff falls on her pregnancy which makes dropping it hard+++, But! I want to honor this gut feeling that I need some form of correction around the sexual trauma bit, even if that does mean dropping all of it. Side note: Eventually, I want there to be a moment where every character finds their pain has been woven together for good and is/will be swallowed up in victory.

    Another thing to consider would be the technological development

    Well, technology is ah, different, shall we say. They are more advanced than the medieval period but less than ours, sort of. But everything is different: the plants, the animals, the metals and minerals. So… some plants have proteins that carry oxygen, which can be used to increase human blood oxygen which promotes healing and tissue function. their pain meds are not as good as ours because none of them have any synthetic components or 100% purification. Medicine is plant and mineral based, but they have germ theory and sanitation. One thing Yona has to deal with is that his medical knowledge is about 40% inapplicable in this setting so if he goes back to that kind of life, it will be a lot of relearning. While they escape, the only one with pharmacological knowledge is Zurrun and it is rather limited

    #152504
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    *walks in with a cup of coffee, blinks blankly*

    Oh, an excuse to rant about my plot again! 😋✌️

    To start @adnyole I love your concept and I can see a lot hinges on this plot and theme-wise so I think from what I’ve read you should keep her pregnant. I also think you can handle this subject matter if you commit to it and pray about it but *shrug* those are just my initial impressions. But.

    1)      If you find you can have the same level of thematic and emotional impact with something lesser absolutely go with that as a rule of thumb.

    2)      When you have a traumatized character they MUST have characterization outside their trauma ie a person with dreams, goals and hobbies and personality – even an entirely different potential character arc – pre-trauma and there must be conflict between pre/post-trauma identities.

    My story almost exclusively deals with abuse and trauma and realistic recovery and finding that every part of that served a purpose in the end. It explores true love vs obsession, manipulation and abuse and right and wrong under extreme duress. I spent…4+ years researching C-PTSD, trauma recovery and uh lgbq+ actually lol so…all that to say like @calidris mentioned my story is intended to be a lot more visceral and intense.

    I started when I was 13 y/o to cope with my depression and a lot of my “research” includes real-life experience around people who do have sexual abuse history in their families and “queer-coated” friends of mine.

    The character you’re probably talking about would be my current MC who was kidnapped by the villain at 14 and invented a lie to avoid being assaulted – as he believed – which was the catalyst for a LOT that happens current story time when he’s 17. It’s absolutely vital to the plot because it drastically shifts my MC’s personality and reveals an aspect of the villain’s character that has several different interpretations in context and it’s a constant source of conflict not the least because the villain was his protector from his abusive parents and the closest thing to a friend he had at the time.

    On that note, if you want your story to really explore moral ambiguity and the humanity of individuals – even villains – as well as overall hard topics I’d highly recommend watching Arcane (you can find it free on Internet Archive I’ll shoot you a link if you’re interested) and then watch Schnee’s YouTube vids analyzing the plot. *Forewarning: it cusses and it is very intense.* It doesn’t deal with sexual assault really but it really explores rock-bottom circumstances and I’ve never seen a more persuasively handled PTSD/insanity arc than Jinx/Powder. If you want something to really hone in on the consequences of the trauma your characters endure, that’d be the one to pick!

    But…anyway, if you need research and plot devices or just about anything in general about these “heavy” YA fiction themes you can tag me!

    Is there anything in particular you’re still looking to get a better grip of in your story? 🙂

    To be a light to the world you must shine in the darkness.

    #152636
    Adnyole
    @adnyole

    @this-is-not-an-alien Hi! Thanks so much for the response and I am sorry it has taken me this long to respond myself. I appreciate your perspective and ability to explore trauma. My goal is to have a similarity in weight to one of my favorite book series Chronicles of the Kings by Lynn Austin (highly recommend if you haven’t read it). One of the main characters becomes an Assyrian sex slave (not the entirely direction I am going, but a bit similar) for a time, and deals with many sins– idolatry, child sacrifice, murder, pride, witchcraft, and such, but at the same time, it was able to maintain a great deal of levity even in the midst of all the real moral problems. I am not sure how to manage that per say, but tis what I am going for. Anyhow, I am wondering how you draw your boundaries for what you write (for the audience and for yourself) and set the tone for the story. I mean, how dark is too dark, in your mind? What details do you avoid or euphemize? How do you seek to honor God with your writing? And  If you wanted to maintain a lighterish feel with heavier themes, what would you do to achieve that?

    Is there anything in particular you’re still looking to get a better grip of in your story? 🙂

    Yeah, there is a lot, but I guess the main thing is how not to get stuck…… I always get stuck in writing about this kind of stuff for a few reasons. One is that I don’t know where to go with it… like I have this vague idea of what I want but I don’t even know how to describe it and then it just sits there.

    #152637
    solanelle
    @calidris

    @adnyole

    I have a few thoughts!

    Umm…so HUGE ramble incoming XD

    So, I’m actually in a (kind of?) similar boat here – A few months ago, I realized that the love interest of my story, Kit, is bisexual – AND TO BE CLEAR I’m also trying to pursue this carefully, and from a Biblical perspective (that homosexuality is a sin.)  Like you, I’ve prayed about this, and also sought guidance and advice from other Christian writers (Cathy actually helped me a lot here!)

    Here’s a few things that really helped me, and might help you as well!

    1. Establish the character’s view of the situation – Kit is very determined to not act on this temptation, and that honestly REALLY cut a lot of stickiness out of the situation.  It’s a lot easier to write about something hard when the character isn’t running headfirst into a lie/sin

    2. Establish the other characters’ views of the situation – One issue that I explored with Kit was the lack of real support he had – his close friend Cecil seemed sympathetic at first and very eager to support him and his strong moral code, but Kit later realized that Cecil really just wanted to help him “hide it” because he was ashamed of him (Cecil would go on to accidentally betray his trust in a moment of weakness, which eventually got Kit ostracized.)  One of the antagonists, Sebastian, was initially very friendly and supportive towards Kit in the aftermath, but later mocked him when he found out that Kit was opposed to even considering acting on it (Sebastian is also interesting to me because he’s a hedonist with no morals, but because he lacks any sort of attraction or interest in relationships he’s not promiscuous at all.  I think he thinks Kit is stupid more than anything.)  On the other hand, he’s also got a genuine, solid support system in his brothers and in his love interest, Val (the MC)

    Also @this-is-not-an-alien don’t worry I’ve got some really amazing ace characters and Sebastian is NOT representative of them all XD

    3. Understand that you’ll ruffle some feathers – this has been a really hard pill for me to swallow tbh, because I’m very sensitive to conflict.  Obviously, this kind of story won’t go over well in the current cultural climate we’re in, where homosexuality is celebrated as something to be proud of.  On the other hand, a lot of Christians might feel very uncomfortable reading a story like this.  Obviously, convictions are important and I respect that!  And I think this applies to your story too – in this cultural climate, people would wonder why Lydia wouldn’t turn to abortion.  I think it’s also just a topic that could be disturbing to a lot of people, and honestly as long as you give proper build up and warnings…it’s not really something you can control.  I don’t think we should shy away from tough topics just because they could be disturbing to people, but we should try to handle them with grace and dignity!

    I think one of the things that I was mildly concerned about is that Kit’s fashion sense and personality are…well…kind of stereotypically queer tbh – he’s flamboyant, very stylish, and spends the majority of the story running around with bubblegum pink hair.  It’s not something I included intentionally – he was always like this, even before I knew about this aspect of his character.  However, I know that this will be very off putting and uncomfortable for some Christians, because in our culture, we associate this kind of personality with queer guys, and therefore with a person in a sinful lifestyle.

    But when you think about it, is there anything morally wrong with being dramatic and stylish?  Is there anything inherently sinful about a man having pink hair?  Obviously, this depends on the cultural context, but in this culture, I wouldn’t say it’d be viewed as sinful (maybe a bit odd and ugly XD)

    Also, it’s not like Kit is effeminate in any way – in fact, he’s got one of the most masculine roles/behavior in the whole cast of characters.  Which honestly opened up a lot of room for discussion and exploration within the story – is Kit any less of a man because he struggles this way?  Would his personality and fashion sense be an issue if he didn’t have this struggle?

    Which I think is applicable to your story as well.  I think when you include something touchy, you can’t just include it and leave.  It has to be impactful and “present” in the story to be worth including, and for me that looks like exploring the questions and topics related to it.  Is Lydia ever tempted to want to abort her baby?  Does she wish she wasn’t pregnant?  Does she maybe resent her husband for not being able to protect her?  Does she fear she won’t be able to provide the baby with the love and affection they deserve?  Is she attached to the baby, but maybe fears that her husband will never be?  How long does it take for her to become attached to her baby?  Does she resent the baby?  Does she feel guilt over what happened?  Some of these are tough questions, and honestly I completely understand if you don’t want to explore them (I wouldn’t want to explore them myself tbh), and if you do explore them you have to be sensitive and try to avoid making it disturbing.  However, I do think that exploring hard questions makes it feel much more real, and it also makes the morally right decisions the character makes feel much more impactful and weighty (as well as realistic.)

    As for Kit, of course I had to keep his personality and style!  There’s nothing morally wrong with it, it’s not inherently linked to his struggle in any way (I actually think it’s related to his ADHD tbh – sensory seeking and all that XD), and he’d just be sad and boring and bland without it.  I needed that part of him to inject that much needed levity and joy into a frankly dark and dismal setting.

    Which brings me to my next two points:

    4. I think that it’s so, so important to include humor in dark stories!  My story, Spire, is honestly very bleak at times, which has lent a rather dark and dry humor to my writing.  Now, this likely varies depending on taste and convictions, and I do believe there are some hard lines that shouldn’t be crossed – I don’t ever make jokes about people dying, for example.  However, I’ve been told that this element of my writing makes it easier to stomach some of the darker parts, which seems counterintuitive but it really does work!

    Also, just plain old funny humor.  For all of the dark or emotionally trying moments in Spire, there’s tons of banter between Kit and his brothers, and plenty of good old fashioned romantic tension and between him and Val!

    5. Don’t make a spectacle of the situation – I don’t think anyone does this deliberately, but it’s so easy to let it creep in.  So, for Kit, I don’t want to add too much angst surrounding this struggle, and I don’t want to pry too deeply into how this looks for him – it’s a deeply personal issue and he deserves privacy and respect, and I don’t want to disturb any readers.  So, the readers see how Kit deals with the struggle, but the struggle itself is kind of veiled, if that makes sense.  You’ve already mentioned that you don’t want to be graphic or too detailed, and I think that’s a very wise decision.

    I’ve also avoided turning Kit into a stereotype, which I mentioned before.  I think that these more “stereotypical” aspects of his character are only problematic if you think that they’re inherently linked to his struggle – meaning that it defines him and his personality (which it doesn’t.)  I think this is important for Lydia’s arc too.  This trauma affects her deeply, but it doesn’t define her!

    I actually think the main issue here would be the pregnancy itself tbh.  I think the main issue that I see is that a lot of the good that comes out of the pregnancy seems to benefit the people around her, but not herself.  This may sound selfish, but I think that it’s important that the character who deals with the trauma personally experience the good that comes out of it.

    So, Kit was ostracized because of this struggle, but in the process lost a very toxic and hypocritical social circle, and let go of a lot of damaging behaviors that he’d picked up to try to hide the fact that he’s struggling (he flirted incessantly with girls to convince people he was straight…as well as for social stimulation because he’s horrible like that.)

    Which is also interesting because part of this was related to his ADHD too – his style change is actually kind of symbolism for him dropping the “mask” he’d adopted to blend into this social circle, and now that he’s not being held to their standard, he’s free to enjoy the creative mind he’d been suppressing (neurodivergency is actually a pretty big aspect of this story – Val is one of many autistic characters in the story, and it’s going to take a while for her to let go of her mask)

    So although this had a negative impact at first, it’s satisfying because he grew from it, and he’s stronger and a healthier person as a result (of course, this doesn’t negate the very real trauma he experienced.)  If it’d only impacted other people, I think it would’ve been incredibly unsatisfying.

    I also think that if I were you, I’d actually avoid giving Lydia a traumatic birth.  Again, absolutely pray about this!  But again, this is a very personal trauma, and I just feel like the traumatic birth could really start to feel like a bit too much – especially because it only serves to help the others in the party, but not so much herself.

    I also think it’d really help to give her some female companions – maybe even women who’ve experienced this same trauma!  I think that would make her birth way less traumatic because she would have women to help her and give her privacy, since right now the whole party is male and I think that would just add to the trauma tbh.  I also think it could be very healing and therapeutic for her to talk and confide with them 🙂

    These are just my thoughts!  I’m interested to hear what you have to say!

     

     

    *laughs as one fey*

    #152656
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Hi! Thanks so much for the response and I am sorry it has taken me this long to respond myself. I appreciate your perspective and ability to explore trauma. My goal is to have a similarity in weight to one of my favorite book series Chronicles of the Kings by Lynn Austin (highly recommend if you haven’t read it). One of the main characters becomes an Assyrian sex slave (not the entirely direction I am going, but a bit similar) for a time, and deals with many sins– idolatry, child sacrifice, murder, pride, witchcraft, and such, but at the same time, it was able to maintain a great deal of levity even in the midst of all the real moral problems. I am not sure how to manage that per say, but tis what I am going for. Anyhow, I am wondering how you draw your boundaries for what you write (for the audience and for yourself) and set the tone for the story. I mean, how dark is too dark, in your mind? What details do you avoid or euphemize? How do you seek to honor God with your writing? And  If you wanted to maintain a lighterish feel with heavier themes, what would you do to achieve that?

    Absolutely and no problem, I’m behind replying to emails rn so I totally get taking a while to respond! XD

    I have not read that but it sounds really interesting, I’ll have to look it u – *the literal swamp of books waiting for be to read them piled up over the years; NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!* I’ll totally have to look it up!

    That’s a very good question, how to deal with those themes and still set up boundaries. I’m still discerning and looking tbh, it’s really case by case for me.

    When I started writing my boundaries were 1) No characters get raped 2) the main character will never die in the end and didn’t really consider graphic content so much because *I was like thirteen and had no clue what my novel was in for*

    Later on…writing became my coping mechanism and processing tool for emotions I’d kept bottled up for a really long time and so the rules kinda changed and I kinda let the story take over trying to figure out what it was I needed to confront and needed to write about to realize.

    So you divided the question into two sections: 1) What boundaries to I draw up for myself and 2) what boundaries I draw up for my audience. That’s a really great divider I’m gonna try and unpack that by question.

    1)      What boundaries do I draw up for myself? How dark is too dark?

    That’s an excellent question and something I still deal with because I do imagine these scenes so vividly my heartrate goes up sometimes and I have to be careful to practice self-care before and after writing. I do cry while writing some scenes especially scenes I’m preparing to share and really desperate to communicate well because it’s sensitive and personal for me.

    There is a definite line between what I’m willing to write for myself and what I’m willing to write for my audience. When I’m writing for myself (-the first draft🙃👌-) the main priority is my mental health and what I get from this content. Soo…there’s a lot that I imagine vividly there are torture scenes, scenes of abuse, scenes of what COULD have happened depending on my characters’ decisions and many/most of those scenes I will never write; they are just for me to process emotions and to add subtle layers of dimension to my character now.

    In that aspect, what is harmful to me is too dark.

    2)      What boundaries do I draw up for the audience?

    Again this is a great division because they really are separate entities. Now, for the story I was talking about earlier I have a pretty high threshold for “acceptable” violence but I do use a LOT of euphemism and techniques that “normalize” most of the trauma for a significant portion of the story until the “numbing” starts to wear off and part of the healing process is coming to terms with how brutal and raw that experience was but there is a LOT you can do to water it down or dilute it so to say, but I’ll get more into that with your question “What details do I avoid or euphemize”.

    The boundaries I draw up for my audience is I don’t provide a lot of full sensory flashbacks; that is I don’t make the audience go through everything my characters go through 2nd hand trauma is very real and it is something I want to avoid doing with my readers and I’m pretty sure a large number of my audience will find a lot of my content triggering, maybe from having endured something similar or having seen through the story to the emotional story/range of my own experience and connect to that on a deep, visceral level. So there’s a lot of “taboo” content as it were.

    I think…there’s a balancing act you have to put between romanticizing and thematically “dulling” the trauma and…really being raw and honest…

    I don’t go over actual moments of trauma very deeply for my audience; I tend to put my focus on the effects and the impact after the fact. And I have still maintained my rule of “no character actually gets raped” although I’ve read books that portray that really well, like um the third book of Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman, Waking Rose, really handled this topic well and did like you’re talking about and veiled a lot of the material so that when I was in my tweens reading it I didn’t fully pick up on the fact that one of her characters was raped in the story it wasn’t until I came back and read it again that I fully absorbed a lot more of the details and trauma she was portraying. So that was a very good book to read to handle sensitive topics.

    Another thing to think about; if you keep most of the actual moments off-scene no matter how directly you imply it or outright state it in the book, people who are too young or inexperienced in those areas will typically pretty much block it out. They’ll perceive there’s something mature going on but if it’s not been explained and you haven’t been exposed to it you probably won’t really take it in. So you can absolutely take into account that readers will perceive your work according to their maturity levels.

    There’s a lot of content that really tows the line of what’s too dark for YA but like I said I started this when I was 13 so…there’s a lot’ve kids who are traumatized and need characters to relate to to process their own trauma. We like to think in this bubble of a certain level of violence just being “other” and nobody in 2022 experiences it but that’s just not true that’s the scary part. You can’t contain this trauma in books, you’re writing about things people are still experiencing somewhere.

    So…the big goal for me is to have a book that reaches people at their maturity level so you…if you romanticize something to a certain extent and you images and symbols, the people who need it will get it, the people who don’t need it will sense the depth but reach as far as they need.

    And that kinda segways into your next question

    1)      What details do I avoid or euphemize?

    Well, I actually can’t give you a definite answer coz I haven’t finished my first book even but…I don’t believe in directly showing trauma graphically if it is in any way possible to dilute or apply to a symbol or object.

    It’s like…in the book Peter Pan the author says fairies can only experience one emotion at a time and very often the same applies to individual scenes: there can be a huge range of emotions in a scene but the reader will/should be left with just one lasting emotion. They’ll come back and find more nuances when they have processed everything else but there’s usually just one lasting “mood” or “tone” per scene.

    If your character is upset or sad or constantly experiencing flashbacks in each scene that’s just the norm the reader will not notice it after a while and that’s good there’s a lot you can just slip under the radar but just having it a constant.

    I like to use objects to “hold” a complex range of emotions which you can absolutely use to build complexity on a scene. So even if the reader can only hold one emotion at a time you’re still reminding them of the other emotions in that scene. Like you could have a doll symbolize your character’s pregnancy; it’s a toy she’s too old for it kinda stands out but it’s a simple object and younger readers might gloss over it and not really “get” the significance even with all the drama around it.

    That aside, I try to avoid emphasizing trauma and just leave it as “normal” until my characters escape that situation. So I let my characters develop awkwardness and funny quirks that sound sweet and cute but also kinda indicate underlying struggles. Like, my MC’s verrrry shy, is not comfortable talking to people, startles really easy, but he’s also really funny and sassy and I try to emphasize a lot quirks that are kinda cute and awkward there are scenes when he jumps and trips over something and it startles everybody else and it’s kinda funny, and he makes snarky comments to animals like they’re more intelligent that people and he’s so awkward about it and he says the funniest things and it helps the plot because he’ll describe people around him to the animals and that’s how you get his opinions. He also has an internal commentary as optimistic as Eeyore which is really funny and kinda “dulls” all the bad things that happen.

     

    4)      If I wanted to maintain a lighterish feel with heavier themes, what would I do to achieve that?

    Now I actually have worked on that before especially in one shortstory I did a while ago “Shoes Like Dreams” so I’m gonna use that as an example I can break down for different techniques. You might want yours to be still lighter and happier idk exactly yet. But here’s a link to the story so you can kinda get a grasp of “how it looks/works” and we can get a clearer idea of what you want and how to fine tune that to your particular narrative.

    If you read it like a reader first and get a overarcing idea of the impressions and feelings you’re left with and then see what you wanna change, once you do that I’m gonna break down the story here. (but if you read it first I wanna show the first raw reaction and impressions before analyzing so you get an firm grip what I usually do and compare to what you want to do.

     

     

     

     

     

    Ok, so now that you’ve read it (I actually haven’t read it in…idk maybe a year I so need to go back and refine it at some point…), going from memory I remember trying to start for Point A emotion to Point B. Point A was exciting and overwhelming and I’ll get into that more later but Point B was painful and meaningful too.

    I wanted that story to be about a little girl struggling with the trauma of having survived a car accident that left her crippled and her mom a widow, but I wanted a more light, childlike playful feel that would kinda veil a lot of the more mature ideas there.

    So I’m gonna go through a list of techniques I used and see which ones you like! 😊

    1)      Objects Carrying Emotions

    I used wings to “hold” the emotions of trauma, especially trauma that completely destroyed her dreams of becoming a ballerina but conversely the musicbox with the toy ballerina symbolized hope and adaptability. In the end the wings symbolism shifts onto the shoes which is part of a “plot twist” in a way – not a huge one but some shock lent a little more to the emotional range – and which provided the character growth in a condensed period of time.

    The shoes originally “held” emotions of delight and affection and funny quirkiness because they originally starred in the “fairy palace” on the fairy prince who symbolized her playmate but when they appear in the “real world” you realize she associated all those emotions originally with her dreams of learning ballet and it gives more impact to the fact that she lost that dream.

     

    2)      War of Two Worlds

    Ok actually three “worlds” but basically the idea is that there are two or more settings that are completely different and irreconcilable with each other: they cannot co-exist in the same POV without causing tension.

    In my shortstory I have the “world” we start on – btw worlds can be emotional or physical or both, it could be as simple as two different people with two completely different interpretations of the same event or one person with two different interpretations that are irreconcilable that they can’t decide which one is true – but I used physical/sensory imagery of these “worlds” for this story.

    World 1, we start in, is the fairy palace during a ball, the main color palette is blue and grey and white it’s reminiscent of Cinderella (or…that was my intent idk how clearly that actually comes across lol XDD) and the emotional “tone” is wonder and awe and magic but it’s in conflict – there’s a duality because of the lamp which is an object that belongs to World 2. World 1 is her “safe place” but it’s very delicate.

    On that same note, her fairy prince friend has a brown-gold color palette that doesn’t quite fit so he’s very subtly “other” as well because he’s entered that world but it’s her world so there’s a lot going on there…

    World 2 is the caverns – there’s not a lot of context and there’s not meant to be a lot of context because it’s a little girl playing pretend so any inconsistencies can be chalked up to that.

    It explodes with conflict, the main color palette is red and black, it shifts from Cinderella imagery to Aladdin imagery but very intensified and mashed together with the other fairytale.

    World 3 is the real world and it fulfils a full 180 shift, there isn’t as simplified a color palette the actual tone of the narrative is a lot more concrete, it changes from 1st person to 3rd and there is little to no romanticism and that world kinda pulls everything together.

    So I love using the “worlds” technique to emphasis emotional shifts and conflict and tension between beliefs and worldviews. How you could use that in your story would be when your character is enslaved they’re taken from their World to a completely different world of slavery and maneuvering new hierarchies and tensions and then there’s the World of the slavers which is a completely different rubric even though they coexist in the exact same area mostly.

    If you use the Worlds technique for that you can normalize a lot of the slavery issues to the point where nobody even notices it until they escape and the worlds shift again really. Never underestimate the power of normalizing evils, that’s how people get away with heinous crimes and how everyone just turns a blind eye.

    But for you if you normalize and then move into it more and add depth it makes things more persuasive because people will be initially acclimated to it and then horrified by what they accept – and people too young to get it probably won’t get it until they reach that maturity so you still protect them from those themes while vividly describing them.

     

    3)      Acclimation

    I’ve already really discussed this, if you repeat something enough people stop paying attention to it, if you treat their slavery as “not the main issue” compared to day to day survival and maneuvering the slavers’ wills you can almost reach a point where it’s a funny slice of life about them trying to “get away” with stuff until they find a way to escape. Seriously, and that’s the scary part it is EASY to avoid and euphemize issues and make light of heavy issues.

     

    2)      A to B Emotions

    I’ve probably touched on this already but for every scene you need two primary emotions: the emotion they start with and the emotion they end with, that’s how you keep beats in your story pretty much. So when you start a scene pick a color scheme, pick two emotions, action and transition between the emotions. Many scenes require goals not all of them do though, your characters don’t have to always actively want something all the time so don’t lose yourself under the pressure of “every scene must further the plot” No many scenes just need to establish information/character investment you’ll need for the plot.

     

    I think that’s about all to start with, lemmie know if I’m overloading or overexplaining I’m very prone to doing that and making information too cluttered. Aaand tell me what you like and don’t like about my shortstory and which aspects/techniques you’d change or adjust to fit your particular goals and narrative styles.

    You asked me one more question and I was saving it for last so I could focus my full attention on it.

    1)      How do you seek to honor God with your writing?

    I think that’s the most important question because that should be the center of everything inside and outside writing life.

    My writing is…for me it’s a prayer. I write about these topics because I am struggling with them, under their weight and I can’t understand why God would make a world like this. Why Someone Who loves us so much would seemingly fail to protect us. And…in writing these scenarios I’ve found answers that…were even higher beyond my comprehension. It gives me clarity and mystery, I can’t contain it but it is so so personal for me. Writing comforts me and disturbs me, it forces me to reevaluate values I hold or used to hold to practice apologetics on an emotional level and to…realize things about myself and really dig into…a lot of unprocessed pain and growth.

    So…writing makes me a better person because it brings me closer to God and helps me see my faults and also forgive myself.

    Yeah, there is a lot, but I guess the main thing is how not to get stuck…… I always get stuck in writing about this kind of stuff for a few reasons. One is that I don’t know where to go with it… like I have this vague idea of what I want but I don’t even know how to describe it and then it just sits there.

    Ohhhhh da vibes!!!! Yessssssssss I totally get that. There’s a lot of reasons that can happen, especially with this subject matter.

    1.       It could just be you’ve put up an emotional wall between yourself and the content and are too scared to feel everything that it’s going to bring up.

    2.       An emotional wall being afraid of not handling the subject well.

    3.       Lack of brainstorming prior to writing – depending on your plotting style

    4.       It’s telling you to wait a couple months and feed it brain food and media similar to the vibes and it’ll pop out with something wicked cool when it’s ready.

    5.       Etc etc XDD

     

    I wanna interject into @calidris’ thoughts too but I gotta post this before it breaks SE XDDDDDD

    To be a light to the world you must shine in the darkness.

    #152677
    solanelle
    @calidris

    @this-is-not-an-alien


    @adnyole

    In that aspect, what is harmful to me is too dark.

    Yes!  This is such a good point!  I think as writers, we have to be extra careful with how our work affects ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re the ones living and breathing our writing.  So, this obviously includes mental health, like you said, and making sure that we don’t write about things that could really harm us in that sense.  I think it’s also important to consider how our writing affects us spiritually, and impacts our walk with the Lord.  Does our writing draw us nearer to him, or further away from him?  I think there’s a lot of gray area here, and obviously there’s going to be things that are neutral too.  Still, it’s good to be discerning with our writing and the topics we choose to mentally dwell on.  This is also an EXTREMELY subjective matter imo – like for me personally, I know that dwelling on violent scenes isn’t good for my walk with Christ, so I don’t include a lot of really violent scenes.  However, this might not be the same for everyone!  So, it’s definitely something to pray about.

    The boundaries I draw up for my audience is I don’t provide a lot of full sensory flashbacks; that is I don’t make the audience go through everything my characters go through 2nd hand trauma is very real and it is something I want to avoid doing with my readers

    That is so true – we perceive the world through our sense, and I think we’re wired to attach great emotions to sensory experiences, so like a warm hug from a friend, the salty wind on the beach, and the bright smell of flowers.  In general, the more sensory input you include, the more vivid and real the story will feel.  I think with subjects like this, there’s this fine line of too much and too little detail – too much detail and you risk seriously triggering your readers, too little and the trauma you include could feel flat and unnecessary.

    I think that focusing on the effects rather than the actual act is a great idea, but I still think that could be triggering if you include enough visceral detail.  It’s SUCH a delicate topic, and again, requires a ton of prayer.

    I think…there’s a balancing act you have to put between romanticizing and thematically “dulling” the trauma and…really being raw and honest…

    EXACTLY!  I think that if you dull the trauma too much, it can come across as unnecessary or possibly even romanticized (like just added in as a “tragic backstory.”)  I remember reading an incredibly visceral piece about sexual abuse on SE awhile ago (@this-is-not-an-alien you know what I’m talking about) and I remember it was honestly kind of traumatic reading it, but it was incredibly well written and really stuck with me.  Because, rape is a vile, shocking, HORRID crime, and should it be portrayed as anything other than that?  The writer of that piece obviously didn’t think so, and wrote it as such.  And, even as shocking and disturbing as it was, it was so viscerally portrayed as horrible and vile that it made a lasting impression on me.  I couldn’t ignore it, or become numb to it with that kind of portrayal.  And, so even though it was so awful to read, I’d say it was an amazing portrayal because it portrayed that kind of crime as so horribly wrong

    I think that it might help to evaluate the level of detail the rest of the violence in the story is shown in.  So, if you don’t really describe the injuries, horrible working/living conditions, beatings, death, war, etc, in more graphic detail, then I think you should consider toning down your portrayal (including really painful emotional portrayals – I think that can also be kind of traumatic to a reader, even if it doesn’t show  the actual event).  But, if the rest of the story is really raw or more graphic, then I think it’ll be fine!

    But for you if you normalize and then move into it more and add depth it makes things more persuasive because people will be initially acclimated to it and then horrified by what they accept – and people too young to get it probably won’t get it until they reach that maturity so you still protect them from those themes while vividly describing them.

    This is an excellent point!  Especially considering that this level of brutality/abuse is probably accepted as normal among the other slaves

    if you treat their slavery as “not the main issue” compared to day to day survival and maneuvering the slavers’ wills you can almost reach a point where it’s a funny slice of life about them trying to “get away” with stuff until they find a way to escape. Seriously, and that’s the scary part it is EASY to avoid and euphemize issues and make light of heavy issues.

    YES!  So, this is exactly what I’ve been doing in Spire with a number of issues.  The tone of the story is often very slice of life, but as the reader, you pick up on a lot of odd or heavy things that the characters themselves might not be aware of.  I think that there really is an element of discernment here, and it’s important to not make cruel or insensitive jokes/portrayals, however I do think that comedy is an excellent way to normalize things in the story, plus it tends to be a coping mechanism for a lot of people!   So, in Spire, humor is used to normalize things in the story, while also subtly drawing attention to the fact that something is wrong and this absolutely should not be normal!  Also, it’s a fantastic way of developing character voice!  Like, Kit’s POV is an absolute riot, and it really offers a lot of candid (albeit incredibly optimistic) insight into his world and his perspective on the events of the story (whereas Val’s POV is rather dry, and offers a much more negative view.)

    There’s a lot of content that really tows the line of what’s too dark for YA but like I said I started this when I was 13 so…there’s a lot’ve kids who are traumatized and need characters to relate to to process their own trauma.

    This is honestly a very valid point.  I think that people underestimate how much trauma kids can go through tbh.  It’s one reason why I kind of disagree when people say YA novels are too dark.  Obviously, a lot of them are!  But, that’s an age where people are becoming more aware of darkness in the world, and I do think that our taste in books reflects that.  I think it’s true that people are drawn to darkness because of our sinful natures, but also because we want to better understand why it has to be that way – why the world is dark and evil, and why “good” people get hurt…

    If we don’t explore touchy subjects, then we’re leaving all of that for the world to write instead, and that’s never a good thing.  Rosy, fluffy stories don’t help people learn (however, some people may be called to write that and that’s ok!)  However, nonbelievers and believers alike can learn from a book with deep themes!

    I  guess it’s not so much the presence of darkness that matters, but rather how that darkness is handled – does it glorify God, or does it glorify darkness?

    Ohhhhh da vibes!!!! Yessssssssss I totally get that. There’s a lot of reasons that can happen, especially with this subject matter. 1. It could just be you’ve put up an emotional wall between yourself and the content and are too scared to feel everything that it’s going to bring up. 2. An emotional wall being afraid of not handling the subject well. 3. Lack of brainstorming prior to writing – depending on your plotting style 4. It’s telling you to wait a couple months and feed it brain food and media similar to the vibes and it’ll pop out with something wicked cool when it’s ready. 5. Etc etc XDD

    These are all likely possibilities, but I will add that it could also be that you’re just not spiritually mature enough to be writing about this theme at this stage in life!  So for me, I don’t plan on getting Spire published any time soon because I’m still not exactly sure how I should handle Kit’s same-sex attraction (as well as a lot of faith aspects of the story.)  Does this mean that I’m going to avoid writing about it for now, or drop the story until I think I’m mature enough?  Absolutely not!  It does mean that I need to keep these issues in prayer and let God guide me to write about the things He wants me to write about, in the way that He wants me to write it.  And it means understanding that it might take a little while until I have feel assured that I’m handling the topic in a loving, truthful, and respectful manner – while still being sensitive to other believers’ convictions.  I would continue praying about it, and maybe consider plotting and brainstorming in the meantime (if you don’t feel prepared to write it.)

    Also @adnyole I was thinking, I honestly think that a major part of developing this part of the story is developing the slave master and his family.  Like, what is their role in the story?  What is the social climate of their household?  So if the master is attracted to Lydia and is using her sexually, how does his wife feel about this (or, he might even have several wives.)  Does she feel disgusted?  Unloved?  How does she view Lydia?  Did she take her frustration and resentment out on her?  Is she cold to her?  Cruel or harsh with her?  Kind to her?  In another possible situation, she might be seen as little more than a high status slave herself, and maybe has no rights or say in her relationship with her husband.  In that case, might she sympathize with Lydia?  What exactly is Lydia’s position in the household?  What is her area of work?  If she works in the household, this could give her some important information need to escape, which would also give her some more agency.  Are there other slaves being abused this way as well, or is it just Lydia?  Is their emotional/mental/physical abuse involved as well

    Also, consider the idea that her baby might be born into slavery as well, or perhaps taken away from her and into the master’s household.  This could be a motivation for her to escape!

    *laughs as one fey*

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Craft Moving Themes Without Turning Readers Off

Craft Moving Themes Without Turning Readers Off

Want to impact the world for Christ with your writing—without being preachy or cliched?

 

Learn how to avoid common pitfalls and craft powerful themes by downloading our free worksheet!

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Poetry Isn't Just for Poets

Poetry Isn't Just for Poets

It can also help novelists write better stories!

Get our Harnessing the Power of Poetry e-book to learn how techniques used by skilled poets can enrich your storytelling.

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Craft Moving Themes Without Turning Readers Off

Craft Moving Themes Without Turning Readers Off

Want to impact the world for Christ with your writing—without being preachy or cliched?

 

 

Learn how to avoid common pitfalls and craft powerful themes by downloading our free worksheet!

Congratulations! Redirecting you to the theme worksheet in one moment...

Uncover the Secret to Relatable Characters

Uncover the Secret to Relatable Characters

Learning how to help readers connect with your story's characters doesn't need to be a mystery.

Get our Evoking Reader Empathy e-book to discover how successful authors build empathy.

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Stop Using Meaningless Character Questionnaires

Stop Using Meaningless Character Questionnaires

Knowing your character's favorite ice cream flavor won't help you write engaging protagonists.

 

Our questionnaire is different. Use it to discover your character's core fears, longings, hopes, and needs.

 

 

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Plotting Is Hard

Plotting Is Hard

That’s why we created a worksheet that will help you make sure your story hits all the right plot beats.

 

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Learn What the Bible Says about Engaging Plots

Learn What the Bible Says about Engaging Plots

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Learn How to Write Christian Themes that Resonate

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