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Question: Young hero and older love interest

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Yukinara, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. Yukinara

    Yukinara Dreamer

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    This is the basic plot for my book: a woman took the young hero under her care for over 15 years (when he was around 1 year old). At the beginning of the book, their relationship is pure and innocent. They cared for each other. After a few chapters they were split apart and tried to look for each other. Over the course of the story, their feeling and sexual tension will grow.

    My issue is: I tried to describe their relationship at the beginning as something fun and innocent. Someone mentioned that it sound close to sex (which is not, because their relationship it totally clean). Another beta reader said that it hooked him in and a little bit flirting should be fine, even for the YA crowd (my book is aimed toward teens around 16-17)

    But I wonder if it cross any moral line, because she took care of him since he was 1. They had been companions for 15 years. I'm not sure if this kind of relationship is considered taboo or not. Should I tone down the first part of the story a lot more? I don't know if I should keep a little flirting around or just delete it completely.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    I personally have no problem with the age difference- but when you have taken care of someone as a child, I would feel pretty squicked to see you start interacting with that person on what appeared to be a sexual level. It smacks of parent/child incest.
     
  3. Yukinara

    Yukinara Dreamer

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    yes, I agree with you. Age is not the real problem. The thing is, because she took care of his basic needs from the young age and he grew up looking at her as the mother figure. It would be squicked for them to look at each other in a special way.

    I think I will increase the age. She will meet him when he was 10 and she was 17. At that time it already passed the age for Westermarck effect and still leave some rooms for romance development later.
     
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    there's supposed to be a famous story in Asia about a guy that raises a younger girl to be his ideal wife, though I can't remember what it's called off the top of my head...
     
  5. Yukinara

    Yukinara Dreamer

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    That is called The tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari). It was a classic novel from Japan and it's considered the world first novel.

    The first conflict of that novel is about Genji and Lady Fujitsubo, a lady who was older than him. Later he found Murasaki, who was Lady Fujitsuo's niece, and trained her to be his ideal woman after the person he loved.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  6. Digital_Fey

    Digital_Fey Troubadour

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    And as I recall Murasaki was pretty freaked out when she came of age and realized that Genji expected her to sleep with him, because for so many years she saw him as a father/older brother figure. Bringing romance into an adoptive parent/child relationship is an extremely delicate subject, but if as you suggested the hero was a little older and more independent when he met the 'older love interest', it could work. It all depends on how you write it, and on the personalities of the characters.
     
  7. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    I think it could work if they never truly fall into a mother-son, or older sister-younger brother, role. Despite the popularity of the trope, there are people who grow up with someone and never really grow that sort of relationship. Hell, there are even a few rare instances of actual parents and children who never quite bond in the way a parent and child do. That's not to say they couldn't be close, or friends, but there are children who see their parents first and foremost as friends instead of caregivers. So I would say that as long as the nature of their relationship prior to the romance is clearly not like a mother and a son's, it wouldn't squick me out, personally. And I don't mind the age difference, either.
     
  8. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    instead of mother-son, why not mentor-student? It's still a bit squicky I guess, but less so. Maybe she trains him in magic or swordplay or some such rot?
     
  9. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    That would squick me just as bad... but that's just me. In many cultures, your martial arts teacher is practically as much of a parent as your parent. (I had crappy parents; some of my martial arts teachers have been a lot more/better parents to me than they ever were).

    The basis of the squick (in my case) is that the balance of power in a parent/child relationship as well as in a student/teacher relationship is just so unequal that it's difficult to get to a place where the parent/teacher is not taking advantage of the other person.... or at least is perpetually in a position where it would be so easy to take advantage of the power imbalance.

    Of course, all these complexities could make for a good story- for those who aren't completely squicked about it!
     
  10. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Well, I think in the proposed story, the two seperate for awhile and don't start the romantic relationship until they re-unite. I can imagine the balance of power changing during that time, especially if the student becomes better then the teacher.
     
  11. I know I harp on this series a lot, but Bujold's The Sharing Knife series has
    two protagonists who are around thirty years apart in age (early 20s, mid-50s, as I recall) and end up falling in love and getting married. It's considered kind of strange in the book, but not creepy.
     
  12. As the other folks have said I do dind it a bit awkward that what was previously an adoptive parent relationship turns sexual, but handled well it could work. I have no problem with an age gap personally. In my draft one of the characters was rescued as a girl from bandits, and as an adult went to find the guy who saved her. He is over 20 years older, and they probably had the option of a romantic relationship, but became friends instead.
     
  13. OK first off... Most publishers won't touch anything with teens having sex with adults.

    If the male is 16 and she is an adult that is going to be a show stopper right there!


    Secondly, and maybe more impoartantly...
    If she has cared for him all these years, and then wakes up one day and decides she wants him that is going to put off a lot of readers, if this type of "love" is going to work you need A) Proper ages for the MC's as in he is over 18 and she being what ever age she is.B) There needs to be a long seperation between them emotionaly as well as physicaly speaking.

    Sure some men fall in love with their mothers but we tend to lock them in rubber rooms!


    Say he goes away maybe he runs away because he does not see this women as a motherly figure, but rather a love intrest and it embarasses him? Then years later he finds her, alone and sad... explaines he never wanted to hurt her after everything she had done for him but that his feelings were less than innocent... let it develop organicly from there. However that will only work if he is much older when she takes him in. Babies will learn to see whom ever is the caregiver (a good one mind you) as a parent figure. Just look at how many adoptions there are...

    Just my .02 cents.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  14. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I personally don't have a issue with a young man having a relationship with an older woman... every young man should at least once in his life. Modern society typically frown on MEN dating younger women especially if a good number of years seperates their ages, but the same stigma doesn't seem to apply to the whole Mrs. Robinson syndrome. I think if you do it right, it could be an interesting addition to any story.
     
  15. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Some people justify dating an older women with the fact that women live longer but I don't really get that's justification at all.
     
  16. Ah but Mrs. Robinson was a friends mother not his own... Or was she a neighbor? Either way she did not raise him as is the proposed story line here.
    However now I must listen to that song! :D I love Simon & Garfunkel! :D

    If I am not mistaken I believe Mrs. Robinson is commited to an asylum after the afair.

    Here are the lyrics to the song.

    (Lyrics)
    And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
    Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
    God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
    Heaven holds a place for those who pray
    (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

    We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files
    We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
    Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
    Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home

    And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
    Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
    God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
    Heaven holds a place for those who pray
    (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

    Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes
    Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes
    It's a little secret, just the Robinsons' affair
    Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids

    Coo, coo, ca-choo, Mrs Robinson
    Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
    God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
    Heaven holds a place for those who pray
    (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

    Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
    Going to the candidates debate
    Laugh about it, shout about it
    When you've got to choose
    Ev'ry way you look at it, you lose

    Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio
    A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
    What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson
    Joltin' Joe has left and gone away
    (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  17. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I figured, but I think as long as this older woman isn't related by blood to the hero, I wouldn't have an issue with it... not too many adult fantasy stories have much for incest (song of fire and ice does). I know the song... my mom used to listen to it when I was a kid, though I haven't really made a study about the lyrics more than the concept.
     
  18. Yukinara

    Yukinara Dreamer

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    maybe I had to clarify this again. There is nothing hanky panky going on when they were together. It's not like "ha. he is old enough, let's have seck". It was purely caring. The main point of the story is maturity. That's why when the main event happen and they were apart, he was around 16-17. After the story, he will grow old enough and reevaluate his feeling toward the love interest. At that time, a lot of things happened. It takes time to build up all the tension and feelings.

    The only issue I have is that if they met when he was too young, 1 year for example. It can hardly create any kind of romantic development because one will look at the other as a mother figure and the girl will have a hard time falling for a boy whom she changed diaper. That's why I consider raising the age to 10-17 or 12-19
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  19. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    Jacqueline Carey got away with doing this in her Kushiel series. The older person was in both an adoptive-father type role as well as a teacher. Carey tried to make it okay by having the student/son persue the father/teacher, and the father/teacher be all conflicted and reluctant about it. That didn't help the squick for me, although I don't know what the general reader reaction was- apparently the series did well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
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