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How to write redemption? [Sep. 21st, 2006|11:05 pm]
Writing Help

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[arabwel]
I am cutting this because this deals with such tricky matters as domestic abuse and rape; please excercise caution.



I have a novel that I have been working on for almost two years now, and in this time it has turned from what was supposed to be a romantic comedy - girl meets boy online, girl doesn't know boy is the pop star she fangirls all over, boy falls in love, girl likewise, truth is revealed, there's "Omg you bastard!" and happily ever after - to something much darker - a story of obsession, passion, damaged people, and even redemption namely, the redemption of one jackass of a pop star after he realizes just how much of an asshole he is and how much he has hurt his girlfriend, the fangirl.

the basic storyline is that the guy meets girl online, falls in love, stalks her, practically kidnaps her, ends up raping her, is horrified by what he did because he didn’t get it until afterwards that she was not just playing - a misconception he got due to language barriers and internet chats, not that it makes him any less guilty. But yeah, he’s horrified and wants to make it up to her. Which includes asking her to marry him, which she says yes to – initially. She takes a few weeks to “figure things out” and in the end, says yes – because she’s realized that yes, she does love him, and wants to be with him. (Oh, and is pregnant with his child but she doesn’t think that alone would be enough of a reason to go back to him)

Now, what follows re the trials and tribulations of any pop-star/mundane relationship, with the additional tumults of her relocating into another country. (first Spain, then the US), and the whole media attention concentrating on the fact that she is still 17. (Over the age of consent where she’s born and bred) This is stressful and there is lots of other things –r elated to religion, mostly, because they are of differing ones but she is willing to “go through the hoops” so she can marry him the way he want-. (Neither one of them “feels married” after the quick magistrate ceremony they have to make immigration and so on easier)

The priest who they want to marry them is insistent that the guy should deal with his issues – mostly, the bad things he has done – before he weds them so the guy is under a lot of strain, dealing with almost 15 years of being an asshole – his list of sins includes even murder, and one outright rape. (he ends up having a breakdown at the girl’s grave after finding out she killed herself)

Now, my issue? Well, during all this, he is rather emotionally abusive of the girl – extremely possessive, dangerously devoted, frightening because of his anger issues. And eventually? He hits her, when they are having an argument where he is afraid she’s harboring feelings for another man. (the one she almost cheated on him with, who is now his best friend’s boyfriend)

Now, what happens after this is that she has a very stereotypical response, apologizing, taking the blame – and the guy is horrified. Because he never intended to hurt her, never intended to make her cry – never intended any of it. It hits him how he’s treated her and he ends up taking off, going to his confessor and begging for help – because he needs to change. (for all the wrong reasons, obviously, because he wants to “keep” her). He also makes the guy swear to not to promise her anything along the lines of “I will never hit you again” or “I will never hurt you again” because he knows more than well that any such promise is more than likely to be broken.

Now this encounter results in the priest recommending a good therapist to him, and this is where I find myself stalled; just how to redeem this guy? I know what his issues are – serious inability to respect women due to childhood issues, anger management problem the size of Russia, and a lot of other things he has never dealt with such as his sexuality and the deaths of people very important to him.

I a thinking just talking to a priest and a therapist and being willing as hell to work on it is not going to eb enough. But what experience I have with his sort of a thing is rather non-applicable (I’m Finnish, these events are set in California) and I don’t think hat things that threat of punishment would keep this guy in line. So if anyone has any suggestions on that note, I am more than willing to listen.

I am also thinking that there would be therapy for the girl – she has her own set of issues that contribute to her inability to stand up for herself and willingness to withstand abuse; so therefore, the priest suggests that she, too, will see the same therapist and that they take couples’ counseling – to deal with issues other than the abuse that their relationship is rather rife with.

... I don’t even know what Ii am asking here, tbh. Mostly, I think, it is “Do you think this plotline is in any way feasible?” – the result of all this is that they stay together, get married “properly”, and they will have a happy, if slightly dysfunctional relationship. (With a total of 15 children, 12 biological, one the guy had fathered before they got together and never knew of, and 2 adopted). And the guy will never get completely better – he will always be an ass, with anger issues, but he is going to get a lot better about dealing with them in a healthy way; he will also learn when it is right to apologize. Actually, he gets downgraded from an asshole to a thoughtless jackass. (In other words, when someone points him that he is being a thoughtless jackass, he apologizes, unlike the “Inconsiderate jackass” type)

So, yeah. Does this work at all? Any and all clarifications and so on, am more than willing to provide. And please excuse any wtf-inducing mistakes in this – word’s spellcheck is what it is and my eyes are not much better.

Crossposted to a few places.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: arabwel
2006-09-22 09:08 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tip :)

yeah,t his is a difficult one. it is one of those stories that keep you awake in the wee hours of the night and just tear your heart up, you know? Prtobably because I am using it to process some bad stuff of my own, but.. yeah.

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[User Picture]From: versipellis
2006-09-22 10:11 am (UTC)
Okay, I have just bitched on my LJ about how THERE'S NOTHING TO DO ON THE NET and so I thought I'd take a closer look at your synopsis and give you better feedback.

I have to admit I find it very hard knowing how to handle abusive males. Cos in my fandom it's not difficult to make some of the male characters lose their temper and hit a girl; but then one is always taught that Hitting Is Bad and you should never stay in a relationship when someone does that to you, so I never know whether to condemn the relationship or not.

Anyway.

You mention (if I've not misunderstood) that the guy raped another girl? Do you know why (assuming it wasn't a misunderstanding like the one with your heroine)? Was it plying-with-alcohol rape or brutal-attack-rape?

He's dangerously devoted to the girl. Is it possible that his redemption must involve letting her go? Accepting that hitting her and being cruel to her won't 'keep' her and when it comes down to it, she doesn't belong to him?

He has several 'failures' to change (he rapes her, then he hits her, and he knows he will probably hit her again). What is it exactly stopping him from changing? Is it 'just' anger? I mean... is he weak, or is it that he doesn't have any other way to deal with the situations where he might hit her?

The girl definitely needs therapy. It sounds like she has no self-respect and is also willing to put up with a hell of a lot (if he stalks her originally and she still loves him... does she see it as stalking? What did it involve? Was she scared then? Or was it very-pushy-boyfriend territory and she thought all girls are treated this way?)

I think that the idea that the guy only gets downgraded to jackass is a good one. I would definitely avoid too much happy-ever-after vibe and I would also think seriously about why the girl stays with him even after therapy.

I think as a plotline it sounds interesting and could work, but as I said I have no relevant experience so someone who does might be more useful.
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[User Picture]From: arabwel
2006-09-23 02:18 am (UTC)
thqnk you for taking the time to do this :) and apologies for horrid typing - ti si 5 am,l I jsut saw WASP live, and this is an unfamiliar keyboard-


You mention (if I've not misunderstood) that the guy raped another girl? Do you know why (assuming it wasn't a misunderstanding like the one with your heroine)? Was it plying-with-alcohol rape or brutal-attack-rape?


I'm afradi ti was b urutal rape - he was living ont he streets at that time, involved in gang activity and other bad Sttuff and he pretty much thought nothing of forcing himserlf on her beause he thought she was just playing hard to get - even if she scartc hed his face bad enough to give hinm a scar he still has :/

He's dangerously devoted to the girl. Is it possible that his redemption must involve letting her go? Accepting that hitting her and being cruel to her won't 'keep' her and when it comes down to it, she doesn't belong to him? possible, but untlikely - because I need to keep them togrther. Even idf he did "let hyer go", she'd refuse to leave so..l it is a bit tricky there. :/


He has several 'failures' to change (he rapes her, then he hits her, and he knows he will probably hit her again). What is it exactly stopping him from changing? Is it 'just' anger? I mean... is he weak, or is it that he doesn't have any other way to deal with the situations where he might hit her?


this is a guy with serious issues - he'äs from an abusive home, he'äs lived ont he streets, had peoople die on him and,w ell, e's never reelaly gerown up tbh - he's still in many ways a teenagera t heart,a nd ho t just because he loves computer games- the pghrase "thoyughtless cruelty of a cvhild" comest o mind - he needs to grow p, and I have not much idea how that one could be done.


The girl definitely needs therapy. It sounds like she has no self-respect and is also willing to put up with a hell of a lot (if he stalks her originally and she still loves him... does she see it as stalking? What did it involve? Was she scared then? Or was it very-pushy-boyfriend territory and she thought all girls are treated this way?)

what he did was to talk to her online as just a friend, never tleling her she was the pop star she fangirled all over -a dn then he gotr into sending her presents, arranging for her to "win" a trip to one of his concerts - that sort of a thing. She never relaly had a chance to thij about anything until he sufddenloy pretty much appeared,a dmitted to being ehr friend, and then raped her because he thopught she wanted it :/ she's beebn so thorougkhly midfuked/swept off her feet that she forgives him "anything"

think that the idea that the guy only gets downgraded to jackass is a good one. I would definitely avoid too much happy-ever-after vibe and I would also think seriously about why the girl stays with him even after therapy.

i will give them their happily-ever-after. A bed of roses and so on - except, you know,lt he thorns have not been removed. they are in for a lot of trouble and ups and downs but. int he end,t heys tay together because they are so well-sited for each other; they're both broken but hern they heal together, they heal... well, together - they complement eah other well. *is not explaining well*

thanks agoain for your help - now my hea is about to explode so I am off.
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[User Picture]From: versipellis
2006-09-23 11:10 am (UTC)
It's ok, if I was typing at 5 a.m. I'd be completely illegible ^^

Has the guy realised since that brutal rape is A Bad Thing? I mean, does he think 'woah, she killed herself so I guess it was bad' or actually come to realise it's always bad? If that makes sense.

Why is the girl so willing to have him back? Does she have neediness issues from before she met him?

Hmm, the growing-up thing is difficult... I suppose that him realising there's a problem is a good start. I'm afraid I'm not sure how it would work either (I don't mean it sounds unconvincing, but that I just don't know enough about human psychology.)

The stalking stuff sounds plausible now cos it sounds more like she was swept away than actually 'terrified'.

Are they well-suited to each other in terms of personality? Do they get on well when they're not having issues?

I think the healing-together idea sounds plausible but as their relationship is such a big part of their problems (I mean, it's a way he manifests his immaturity, etc) it sounds like it must have to change for them to heal. To me, anyway.

Am not trying to be bossy or anything - just considering your idea, if you see!

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[User Picture]From: arabwel
2006-09-24 09:15 am (UTC)
It's ok, if I was typing at 5 a.m. I'd be completely illegible ^^

Has the guy realised since that brutal rape is A Bad Thing? I mean, does he think 'woah, she killed herself so I guess it was bad' or actually come to realise it's always bad? If that makes sense.


yup.... he has. has refused to think about it for yeas and yars but when he fially admits it to Nega (the gir), he considers it a graver sin than having killed someone :/ i is probably going to take a lot of work to make him see date rap as rape, too, though - cause he has done that a LOT :/

Why is the girl so willing to have him back? Does she have neediness issues from before she met him?

sh pretty much has serious issues - both neediness and a sense of being too ugly/fat/scarred/crazy for anyone to care about s she is totally latched on to him because he s actively trying to make her happy, unlike anyone else before.

Hmm, the growing-up thing is difficult... I suppose that him realising there's a problem is a good start. I'm afraid I'm not sure how it would work either (I don't mean it sounds unconvincing, but that I just don't know enough about human psychology.)

thaks fothe vote of confidence :D

The stalking stuff sounds plausible now cos it sounds more like she was swept away than actually 'terrified'.

she was actually feaked out y the gifts because he never tld her h was sending them - butshe hads a great capabili or denial so she came to the conclusion that "Ok, these are art supplies. I have lot of art on the internet, and i am known as being a good but starving - ya right - artist. therefore this is someone's way of enouraging me" which is a bit far-fetched but to her a lot more plauibl than a stalker cause "stalking happens to pretty pople"

Are they well-suited to each other in terms of personality? Do they get on well when they're not having issues?

Yup. they became riendsfirst, and then he got obsessed with her - extremely soon, but h thought shewas a nice, cool chick (and she thought likeswise of hm) before he got obsessed. byt he tme they first met, she consided him one of hher closest friends. they get alog great because they have similar opinions on a lot of stuff, like similar ings, but dffer just enough to keept hings interesting.

I think the healing-together idea sounds plausible but as their relationship is such a big part of their problems (I mean, it's a way he manifests his immaturity, etc) it sounds like it must have to change for them to heal. To me, anyway.

it does, in a way - it is kind of had to eplan but it becomes a lot more balanced, and in a wya goes round - they both thinkt hat he is still in control, and he might appear s from the outside, but she s the one who actually has all the control, so tao say - they go from desperate/assionate to passionate/tender -t he fact hat she is pregnanthelps wiht hat because it redces the exual aspect a lot and makes them row more into.. family-lke drection.


Am not trying to be bossy or anything - just considering your idea, if you see!

And I apprecate the help :D

thanks again, bunches :)
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[User Picture]From: versipellis
2006-09-25 04:23 pm (UTC)
Well, overall I think you're definitely considering the issues and your plot stands up to questions a random stranger can throw at it... so I'd say go ahead. But as I said, little experience here - but I'm sure you'd do all the necessary research ^^
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[User Picture]From: tamtrible
2006-10-08 11:57 pm (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree...

>He's dangerously devoted to the girl. Is it possible that his redemption must involve letting her go? Accepting that hitting her and being cruel to her won't 'keep' her and when it comes down to it, she doesn't belong to him?

I think, for this to be plausible, I think he'd at least have to... come to the conclusion that he has no right to claim her, and offer to let her go. For me to believe that he truly has changed, in any meaningful way, I think I'd have to see some acknowledgement from him that he's done something that could, and possibly should, be unforgivable.
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