Jump to content

[Discussion] Coming-of-age dissonance


cr47t
 Share

Recommended Posts

i've noticed quite a few people who don't connect with the traditional/conventional coming of age story - people who never had an ideal (or close to ideal) youth to reminisce about, or the same about adolescence, and whose own thoughts about 'growing up' are dissonant with the prevailing idealism in the lives and worlds of conventional COA stories. in such cases some of them feel like they're not having the right adolescence because they can't find a way to do the things MCs in these stories do or feel the way they do, or other dissonances between work and audience arise. a Youtube comment on a video essay about COA stories said it better than me:

Quote

The Catcher in the Rye and Norwegian Wood are great coming of age books because they never give the notion that youth is pretty, despite how much we want it to be. Their protagonists are idealists but they are wracked with traumatic experiences and the world doesn’t get better for them despite how much they want to change it. Ultimately, Toru and Holden find their own consolations - but the world doesn’t get prettier for them. Toru finds love and Holden finds nothing - they continue to live and reality passes by them. Youth is a painful, lonely, empty time. The best stories are the ones which capture that and offer solace in making others feel less alone, less empty and less pained - by feeling confirmed.

Christ! I hated Perks of Being A Wallflower. It’s just bullshit and so out of sync with my experiences when I was a teen (when I read it). I mean maybe if you’re lucky that will happen, but not for a lot of people. Catcher and Norwegian Wood have the guts to confront the hellish, alienated, disillusioned feelings of youth. Despite their pessimism and bleak outlook on life, they make you recognise (sic) you’re not alone and your struggles are confirmed. That one should face the existential torment, find oneself and reach out to others, when they are good for you and in need

-"Candy's Room"

after reading this and similar expressions i realized i had felt that way too in the past, and so i determined to try and connect and "confirm" those outliers' unromanticized life through my writing. i know my disillusionment may come from different sources than those of others, and in different ways, but i don't know where to start in terms of knowing about and understanding such situations. so is there anything more i should consider about this?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@cr47t There's two main points that I think you might want to consider in your pursuit for broadening your vision:

Firstly, the idealized type of CoA stories. I don't see in the OP an actual disdain towards romanticized/idealist CoAs, it's more of an alienation to said kind due to haven't lived one yourself, but in case there's an underlying contempt towards those, and/or a desire to avoid them as they're not what you and the kind of readers you want to reach to would feel identified to, I urge you not to disregard them, and rather, get closer to them. I can understand that doing so comes with a price, but it is precisely in noticing the contrasts between the light of this kind of CoAs and the bleak happenings of those not as fortunate where you can find some answers. It is about an MC having deep disagreements with their parents about the path the latter would want the former to take in life, but finally finding reconciliation and acceptance from the progenitors, as they realize supporting their child from the start in their passion was the right thing to do? Well, you got there a situation: Real life is often not as simple, parents sometimes hold grudges on their offspring for not leading the path they wanted, or they manage to force the offspring into it, causing unhappiness, in many cases for themselves and the child. Is it about the difficulties an LGBT+ person endures as they go through school, but everything ends up with a pink ending of "I accept myself for who I am, I don't care about what others say, and heck, I even got a couple, yay"? I think that at this point I needn't elaborate. As you read the topics covered in idealist CoAs, you'll come to learn about many situations that you might haven't lived yourself, but that others have, and imagine how, with relative ease I daresay, those situations can go wrong and turn into the sad mess that reality often is.

The second would be... oh well... it's so easy for me to say, comfortably sitting and writing this... but you could research IRL. I think this is pretty obvious and might not report any usefulness to you, but I mention it because, if I may venture saying this, a lot of the people that lurks in sites like this is the kind that's not exactly too sociable IRL and that often wants to find knowledge and understanding through internet sources. Which i'm not saying is completely wrong, but... I dunno, man, I think it would be the duty of a writer that wants to truly touch the heart of a certain spectre of the audience to go out under the sunlight (lol, I know it's dangerous but it won't kill us) and look to the audience in the eye. This comes with its own great challenges, or course. Right now, even as I'm writing this which is supposed to be a suggestion, I'm kinda hesitant, or should I say skeptic, about this point, because I'm finding it difficult to imagine how to do this. What I mean is, how to present yourself to an unknown teenager with a notebook and pencil and asking them to tell you the darkness that trouble their heart the most? Still... I just keep thinking that is you somehow managed to do this, it would be immensely beneficial to your aspiration, because I'm convinced it's not the same to read the pain of the people than seeing it firsthand.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Rayfield Lumina said:

Firstly, the idealized type of CoA stories. I don't see in the OP an actual disdain towards romanticized/idealist CoAs, it's more of an alienation to said kind due to haven't lived one yourself, but in case there's an underlying contempt towards those, and/or a desire to avoid them as they're not what you and the kind of readers you want to reach to would feel identified to, I urge you not to disregard them, and rather, get closer to them. I can understand that doing so comes with a price, but it is precisely in noticing the contrasts between the light of this kind of CoAs and the bleak happenings of those not as fortunate where you can find some answers. It is about an MC having deep disagreements with their parents about the path the latter would want the former to take in life, but finally finding reconciliation and acceptance from the progenitors, as they realize supporting their child from the start in their passion was the right thing to do? Well, you got there a situation: Real life is often not as simple, parents sometimes hold grudges on their offspring for not leading the path they wanted, or they manage to force the offspring into it, causing unhappiness, in many cases for themselves and the child. Is it about the difficulties an LGBT+ person endures as they go through school, but everything ends up with a pink ending of "I accept myself for who I am, I don't care about what others say, and heck, I even got a couple, yay"? I think that at this point I needn't elaborate. As you read the topics covered in idealist CoAs, you'll come to learn about many situations that you might haven't lived yourself, but that others have, and imagine how, with relative ease I daresay, those situations can go wrong and turn into the sad mess that reality often is.

The second would be... oh well... it's so easy for me to say, comfortably sitting and writing this... but you could research IRL. I think this is pretty obvious and might not report any usefulness to you, but I mention it because, if I may venture saying this, a lot of the people that lurks in sites like this is the kind that's not exactly too sociable IRL and that often wants to find knowledge and understanding through internet sources. Which i'm not saying is completely wrong, but... I dunno, man, I think it would be the duty of a writer that wants to truly touch the heart of a certain spectre of the audience to go out under the sunlight (lol, I know it's dangerous but it won't kill us) and look to the audience in the eye. This comes with its own great challenges, or course. Right now, even as I'm writing this which is supposed to be a suggestion, I'm kinda hesitant, or should I say skeptic, about this point, because I'm finding it difficult to imagine how to do this. What I mean is, how to present yourself to an unknown teenager with a notebook and pencil and asking them to tell you the darkness that trouble their heart the most? Still... I just keep thinking that is you somehow managed to do this, it would be immensely beneficial to your aspiration, because I'm convinced it's not the same to read the pain of the people than seeing it firsthand.

i wouldn't call my feelings towards the positive COAs "contempt" in the broad sense - the contempt I have is towards the publishers who churn them out for the sake of a trendy status quo, at the cost of voices that don't get the light of day but deserve to. (ex. people have noted the lack of minority leads in COAs, and i can see what they're getting at - it's a good thing to consider and a good time to act on it - but i am bothered that the need for expanding the worldviews/personalities range of COAs and their leads is neglected in comparison.) in any case, i'm having a hard time following your first paragraph from there. are you saying i look to the conventional YAs to see what is being represented? or what is not? or something else? no hard feelings, but it is unclear to me.

on the second - i appreciate the advice, but in my RL experience, even the people i'm close to (outside my close family of course) are reluctant to talk about these things, and a good while back i 'learned' to be reluctant to ask in case people feel uncomfortable and we get pushed apart by that. (i'm already lonely a lot of the time as is...) i'm not sure there's a way to overcome that. i still want to find out what others re going through, but i want to be respectful of other peoples' boundaries.

anyway

i guess i didn't give enough information about my current story, and i looked for a thread on the creative writing subforum but couldnt find it even though i'd have sworn i'd posted. in short, a youth (currently guessing age 15) with a lonely life and a big imagination finds himself and his parents stranded on a unmarked island, and when he finds traces of a old civilization along with a remaining person from it, he becomes at odds with the parents, who want to leave the island as soon as possible, so the MC can get more used to moving forward in life. in the end, there's no 'resolution'; the parents and the MC do leave the island, and the MC is adrift again (in the world and inside himself) like he was before the island. (this is because, as i drew from myself making the MC, i haven't found my way out yet, so i dont feel the experience needed to do the same for him.)

i always thought of the ruins as what could have been and the remaining creature, as a character, to represent the life and friends the MC never had. but i'm not sure how to counteract the fantasy elements with the situation that i want to be familiar with, along with the realist goals of the adults, and other things. the main goal is (besides finishing a first draft) combining my new clearer vision of where i am (and by proxy, where the MC is at start and end) with the content and events in the middle, as i have a feeling the current content seems more easily lending itself towards a MC with a more idealized youth. of course, i don't mean to derail the thread; i'm willing to discuss the original OP post as well as this new problem i have (even if it merits a separate thread - does it?). but in any case, thank you (all of you, including in advance) for lending your thoughts on the original matter.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't care much for the type of story it is as long as it's a good read. By "good read", I mean something that I look forward to reading to completion as opposed to just reading the first chapter and forgetting it exists.

 

Note: Make your characters likeable for the role they play in the story. This means, make your protag nice but not a complete pushover. Your villian should have a legit motive aside from "I'm evil and I wanna rule the world" because that gets really old really fast. Also, this is a big one. DO NOT MAKE YOUR PROTAG A MARY SUE OR A SUPERMAN! This is for your bemefit as well as your readers. If your character is so damn perfect that writing new challenges for them becomes boring, it shows in the writing because you will constantly pull new abilities out of your rear to keep the story alive. Don't do this. If you do male your character gain an ability, please give us the filler of them honing their skill to the point that it is applicable. Also, don't make the ability a one time thing. Imagine reading Dragon Ball and you see Goku working to perfect the Kamehameha so it can be an effective skill in combat and he only uses once through the entire series. You'd be extremely pissed. I'm saying because they do this a lot with perfect characters and it gets really annoying.

On another note, CoA stories aren't exactly bad. Yeah, they start of slow. But I see them more initially as character development/evolution stories. That being said, a CoA should have a primary focus on the character of choice.

Edited by Horu
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/29/2021 at 5:59 PM, cr47t said:

in any case, i'm having a hard time following your first paragraph from there. are you saying i look to the conventional YAs to see what is being represented? or what is not? or something else? no hard feelings, but it is unclear to me.

I'm sorry that I wasn't clear. Let's see... you said that, as your own disillusionment comes from a certain source that is different from others, you want to learn about other experiences, right? What I was trying to say is that in traditional CoAs you'll find a number of circumstances that are likely foreign to you, and that by identifying the driving point of the story, you can re-imagine them into the kind of situations that should match with those of your intended readers. You can think of this as a "If this would have gone wrong..." Acceptance of oneself, achieving a goal, attaining the skills to pursue a dream, finding love, etc. These (or in many cases more than one) should be the core of the traditional CoA, and if you manage to... well, let's call it, poison it with your evilness xD, then you should definitely score some goals, all of this by indirect method.

On 8/29/2021 at 5:59 PM, cr47t said:

on the second - i appreciate the advice, but in my RL experience, even the people i'm close to (outside my close family of course) are reluctant to talk about these things, and a good while back i 'learned' to be reluctant to ask in case people feel uncomfortable and we get pushed apart by that. (i'm already lonely a lot of the time as is...) i'm not sure there's a way to overcome that. i still want to find out what others re going through, but i want to be respectful of other peoples' boundaries.

I agree with you, that's why I mentioned along the lines I was skeptical about that suggestion. I reckon that's why this was 2) and not 1), which as I have explained before, it's an indirect, safe method to acquire knowledge. Speaking one's mind should be beneficial for mental health most of the time, but it has to happen when the time is right, with the right person, and I guess we got no right to be pushing people towards that, even if we have good intention.

On 8/29/2021 at 5:59 PM, cr47t said:

guess i didn't give enough information about my current story, and i looked for a thread on the creative writing subforum but couldnt find it even though i'd have sworn i'd posted. in short, a youth (currently guessing age 15) with a lonely life and a big imagination finds himself and his parents stranded on a unmarked island, and when he finds traces of a old civilization along with a remaining person from it, he becomes at odds with the parents, who want to leave the island as soon as possible, so the MC can get more used to moving forward in life. in the end, there's no 'resolution'; the parents and the MC do leave the island, and the MC is adrift again (in the world and inside himself) like he was before the island. (this is because, as i drew from myself making the MC, i haven't found my way out yet, so i dont feel the experience needed to do the same for him.)

i always thought of the ruins as what could have been and the remaining creature, as a character, to represent the life and friends the MC never had. but i'm not sure how to counteract the fantasy elements with the situation that i want to be familiar with, along with the realist goals of the adults, and other things. the main goal is (besides finishing a first draft) combining my new clearer vision of where i am (and by proxy, where the MC is at start and end) with the content and events in the middle, as i have a feeling the current content seems more easily lending itself towards a MC with a more idealized youth. of course, i don't mean to derail the thread; i'm willing to discuss the original OP post as well as this new problem i have (even if it merits a separate thread - does it?). but in any case, thank you (all of you, including in advance) for lending your thoughts on the original matter.

Oh man, even this small summary made me feel somewhat frustrated. This premise holds a subtle beauty that I'm liking already, I think you got a solid base here. Without more details, I can't see why you feel it's lending toward a more idealized outcome. The boy had it within grasp, and had to let it go once more by the imposed "mature way" of the adults. I'm unable to see much more than impotence and loneliness.This is just me, but I don't feel you need to "counteract" the fantasy elements, as long as you manage to find the right parallelisms between your RL experiences and the fanciful side, and I can't be sure of this since I'm yet to read any of your works, but something tells me you'd be able to achieve that with ease, honestly n.n

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/30/2021 at 1:04 AM, Horu said:

I don't care much for the type of story it is as long as it's a good read. By "good read", I mean something that I look forward to reading to completion as opposed to just reading the first chapter and forgetting it exists.

 

Note: Make your characters likeable for the role they play in the story. This means, make your protag nice but not a complete pushover. Your villian should have a legit motive aside from "I'm evil and I wanna rule the world" because that gets really old really fast. Also, this is a big one. DO NOT MAKE YOUR PROTAG A MARY SUE OR A SUPERMAN! This is for your bemefit as well as your readers. If your character is so damn perfect that writing new challenges for them becomes boring, it shows in the writing because you will constantly pull new abilities out of your rear to keep the story alive. Don't do this. If you do male your character gain an ability, please give us the filler of them honing their skill to the point that it is applicable. Also, don't make the ability a one time thing. Imagine reading Dragon Ball and you see Goku working to perfect the Kamehameha so it can be an effective skill in combat and he only uses once through the entire series. You'd be extremely pissed. I'm saying because they do this a lot with perfect characters and it gets really annoying.

On another note, CoA stories aren't exactly bad. Yeah, they start of slow. But I see them more initially as character development/evolution stories. That being said, a CoA should have a primary focus on the character of choice.

a few things i have to say here

  1. i'm not going to try and compress the "likeability VS relatability" debate over fictional MCs into this post, but i will say that i do think that relatability can contribute to likeability, if the relatability comes not only from understanding the motives but the reader sharing said motives (admittedly, this is easier to estimate when writing for an audience, which is also a bigger topic for another thread). i do agree with the villain part precisely because virtually nobody thinks they're in the wrong and goes ahead anyway.
  2. YES. i agree that mary sues or other Super-MCs are bad to write, not only because there's no investment in the outcomes on small or large scales, but because in the cases of most such characters, the stories they're in not only involve a world that revolves around said sues, but the storyline can quickly become a (usually wish-fulfillment based) story-long ad for the character, and nobody wants to read through that. that said, my MC doesn't have any abilities but the need to avoid character "perfection" (or victimhood, on the opposite end of the spectrum) is important for any story. (not that familiar with DB but i think i get it)
  3.  i don't quite get what you mean by "the character of choice" - did you perhaps mean the choice the character makes? the MC? something else?
On 8/31/2021 at 7:53 PM, Rayfield Lumina said:

I'm sorry that I wasn't clear. Let's see... you said that, as your own disillusionment comes from a certain source that is different from others, you want to learn about other experiences, right? What I was trying to say is that in traditional CoAs you'll find a number of circumstances that are likely foreign to you, and that by identifying the driving point of the story, you can re-imagine them into the kind of situations that should match with those of your intended readers. You can think of this as a "If this would have gone wrong..." Acceptance of oneself, achieving a goal, attaining the skills to pursue a dream, finding love, etc. These (or in many cases more than one) should be the core of the traditional CoA, and if you manage to... well, let's call it, poison it with your evilness xD, then you should definitely score some goals, all of this by indirect method.

I agree with you, that's why I mentioned along the lines I was skeptical about that suggestion. I reckon that's why this was 2) and not 1), which as I have explained before, it's an indirect, safe method to acquire knowledge. Speaking one's mind should be beneficial for mental health most of the time, but it has to happen when the time is right, with the right person, and I guess we got no right to be pushing people towards that, even if we have good intention.

Oh man, even this small summary made me feel somewhat frustrated. This premise holds a subtle beauty that I'm liking already, I think you got a solid base here. Without more details, I can't see why you feel it's lending toward a more idealized outcome. The boy had it within grasp, and had to let it go once more by the imposed "mature way" of the adults. I'm unable to see much more than impotence and loneliness.This is just me, but I don't feel you need to "counteract" the fantasy elements, as long as you manage to find the right parallelisms between your RL experiences and the fanciful side, and I can't be sure of this since I'm yet to read any of your works, but something tells me you'd be able to achieve that with ease, honestly n.n

i really like the "what if this went wrong" way of looking at them, i'll try to apply it

no real comments on paragraph 2 because i think we're both on the same page

thank you with the advice for the specific story. i do think you're right that i've got a good balance, now that my mind is a bit clearer, but i have a hard time shutting up my insecurity about my life and work (in writing and outside it) as it was when i posted. that's all it was now that i think about it, sorry for frustrating you. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, cr47t said:

i really like the "what if this went wrong" way of looking at them, i'll try to apply it

no real comments on paragraph 2 because i think we're both on the same page

Glad to know some of my suggestions might be of use to you n.n

I wish there was a way to reach to people effectively without causing discomfort for both you and the other party. Perhaps that could come over time. If the demography you'd be dedicating your thoughts to starts acknowledging your work, they might be more willing to share their mind in due time. Should you open up a blog/discord server or the like, you could reach to them in a more effective way. Of course, I'm thinking way ahead of time and under certain assumptions, I don't even know if you'd be interested in opening such spaces.

2 hours ago, cr47t said:

thank you with the advice for the specific story. i do think you're right that i've got a good balance, now that my mind is a bit clearer, but i have a hard time shutting up my insecurity about my life and work (in writing and outside it) as it was when i posted. that's all it was now that i think about it, sorry for frustrating you. 

I understand what you mean, I've experienced a similar insecurity that prevented me from exercising one of my passions which is drawing for the longest time. It's thanks to a friend that I've managed to overcome part of my fears, and I think that by sharing this kind of threads, considering what i'm quoting above, you're taking solid steps towards confidence. Btw, you don't have to apologize at all, when I said the story's summary made me feel frustrated, I said it in a positive way, if that makes sense. In other words, you were able to effectively deliver the kind of feelings one would experience given the outcome of the book, this in very few words, and I think that's pretty great.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...