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Old 04-09-2015, 06:38 AM   #1
agouderia
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Default In search of .... more variations on the SS/BHM character

Magodamilion with her first story here re-raised an interesting question I think merits discussion amongst us SS/BHM writers of realistic stories

http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/fo...d.php?t=114685

Magodamilion writes: Many of the longer realistic settings pieces on here seem to deal with more of a meek insecure type of BHM so I wanted to try the opposite and see how it worked out.

.... and then in the second installment we find our BHM comtemplating his recent weight gain and it's social and professional consequences for him.

This is not meant critically at all - on the contrary. The scene is very convincingly written and chillingly realistic.

It only leads me to the question - is it possible to write a realistic SS/BHM character who has an unequivocally positive attitude to his size (baring alternate realities)? Who never has doubts about his weight - or the sense to need to compensate being fat one way or the other?

We can probably all agree that there is more scope, more options to the potential portrayal of SS/BHM leads - like crime fiction, thrillers, historical fiction etc. - that we see around here or in similar sites on the web.

But is there really the option of creating an authentic, plausible SS/BHM character who has no insecurities whatsoever about his weight, never tries to lose some or who questions his size or is minimum actively defiant of it -as long as we chose our world as the story setting?
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:01 AM   #2
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You're totally right. That was actually something I was weary about as I was writing it. But in my story I felt it would make the most sense, (and part of what I meant when I said I wanted to write the opposite was also just that I wanted the girl to be the awkward weird one not the guy.)

As for you're question, I think the problem is that we do live in a society in which there's a huge stigma to being fat. And I don't think it's possible to be 100% secure in something that it seems like the whole world is rallied against.

I think you can be ultimately confident but still have doubts from time to time and that applies to any stigmatized trait. That's what I'm aiming for with this character.
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:04 AM   #3
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A few thoughts (random, not adding to a particular point):

- it probably doesn't feel realistic to have a character who can't at least see the downsides of his weight, whether or not he particularly cares about them.

- people who really don't give a hoot what the rest of the world thinks about them are challenging to write--hitting the balance of making the character interesting to the reader, but being such an odd duck, is entirely possible but not at all easy.

- stories, as opposed to fantasies, need challenges for the characters to overcome. In stories that are to some extent about fatness, tying those challenges to that fatness seems pretty natural, I think. Having the character just incidentally be fat would maybe feel odd? Also, if the author enjoys the characters fatness, challenges associated with the fatness offer an excuse to write about that fatness in a different context that times when it is being appreciated.

- most of the stories (again as opposed to fantasies) about BHM characters have been written by FFA. Perhaps it feels too much like wish fulfillment to have the BHM be super-confident in their size? I think the (few) stories that I've read by BHM have tended to focus less on 'should he be fat' and more on 'will she/he accept/love me when I'm fat?"

- For anyone with time on their hands and an acceptance of science fiction or fantasy settings, I'd suggest reading some Lois McMaster Bujold, who uses a lot of 'damaged' characters, where their issue is part of who they are, sometimes a very important part, but where the characters are far more than being about that. (errr, except her 'Sharing Knife' series, where she apparently tried doing something very different from her usual).
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tad View Post
A few thoughts (random, not adding to a particular point):

- it probably doesn't feel realistic to have a character who can't at least see the downsides of his weight, whether or not he particularly cares about them.

- people who really don't give a hoot what the rest of the world thinks about them are challenging to write--hitting the balance of making the character interesting to the reader, but being such an odd duck, is entirely possible but not at all easy.

- stories, as opposed to fantasies, need challenges for the characters to overcome. In stories that are to some extent about fatness, tying those challenges to that fatness seems pretty natural, I think. Having the character just incidentally be fat would maybe feel odd? Also, if the author enjoys the characters fatness, challenges associated with the fatness offer an excuse to write about that fatness in a different context that times when it is being appreciated.

- most of the stories (again as opposed to fantasies) about BHM characters have been written by FFA. Perhaps it feels too much like wish fulfillment to have the BHM be super-confident in their size? I think the (few) stories that I've read by BHM have tended to focus less on 'should he be fat' and more on 'will she/he accept/love me when I'm fat?"
Those are all really great points.

One other thing, and I don't want to sound like I'm being defensive cause I know you were just bringing up a topic that I think is a good conversation to be had, but I didn't actually have my character explicitly thinking anything negative about his own body during that scene. He was more lamenting other people's reactions to it and how those have impacted him. At least that's what I was going for anyways.
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by magodamilion View Post
One other thing, and I don't want to sound like I'm being defensive cause I know you were just bringing up a topic that I think is a good conversation to be had, but I didn't actually have my character explicitly thinking anything negative about his own body during that scene. He was more lamenting other people's reactions to it and how those have impacted him. At least that's what I was going for anyways.
For what it is worth, as a reader I didn’t see him wanting to lose weight, more just frustrated by changes that were making life difficult. To me it felt more like my conversation with my friends along the lines of “what the heck is with these random aches and pains? And waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? When did I become old?” (given that we are only in our late forties, I imagine that this conversation is going to just escalate for the next few decades….)

On the other hand, Agouderia is right in that this glimpse of his inner feelings is hardly “Oh yah, I’m looking good—world better get down at my feet and beg me to notice it, because I’m the king baby!” There is clearly a difference between his external swagger and his internal feelings. Which, in all fairness, is probably the case with many people who show external swagger.

On the third hand, a character who believes his own swagger is, err, challenging to get to like. Which can be good and interesting, but also holds a high chance of failure (either the author not wanting to write the character, or the readers getting turned off). Or even if the character doesn't believe their swagger but does not have more redeeming internal qualities underneath it, it can be pretty tough going. (I may have loved Flashman*, but most books that have tried the same I've enjoyed far, far, less.)

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Flashman

ETA: And one more, not related to the above, point: for a lot of people, writing about a fat character who is confident and content with their size might be more easily, or pleasurably, done in the context of fantasy--pieces of writing that enjoy the erotic pleasure of all that flesh, but which are not so worried about plot arc or character development.
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:50 PM   #6
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Good questions...and I hope to maybe offer my own example in the next year (one of my story ideas).

I think one of the challenges for me would be that I would just tend to shift the insecurity to my female character.

To have a bold, brassy male AND female protagonist isn't impossible, but it doesn't tend to give as many avenues for character development (though I'm trying one now). If both of the mains are confident and unabashed in what they want, the story has to focus much, much more strongly on the story, unrelated to the weight. If not, the story could quickly devolve into unabashed groping and feeding. Or would have to be shorter and more concise than I tend to be..

But I'm actually giving it a go...We shall see how it turns out.
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:40 PM   #7
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Oh. Also!

99% of romances today seem to be written from a highly muscular, masculine, and domineering perspective. The females are 'forced' in a sense, and her 'weakness' (lack of restraint) is smashed until she is inevitably succumbs to his wiles.

So my stories tend to be more polar opposite...but I tried to skim that curve with Tal in To Tame a Thief. He chased her relentlessly and somewhat obsessively, but without lessening or domineering her. She didn't succumb, she chose.

Not to say that is what you mean! I just don't want to fall into that pitfall either, which is what the mainstream stuff tends to be...Trying to play with bits and pieces, you know?
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Old 04-10-2015, 04:51 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by magodamilion View Post

One other thing, and I don't want to sound like I'm being defensive cause I know you were just bringing up a topic that I think is a good conversation to be had, but I didn't actually have my character explicitly thinking anything negative about his own body during that scene. He was more lamenting other people's reactions to it and how those have impacted him. At least that's what I was going for anyways.
As initially stated - you have absolutely no reason to be defensive.

Your storyline just set me thinking again about the basic dilemma of character development in realistic weight gain fiction.

I also didn't perceive your Scott being negative about his weight or wanting to lose some. He was only reflecting on the constant negative reactions and also limitations society makes him face because of his weight.

That is probably the bottom line of what I was trying to discuss: Being fat is not just a physical trait, but because of the social stigma associated with it, it strongly influences any characters social and psychological development.

Most prevalent as responses to having to handle the constant negativity towards the own persona - IRL, but also here in fiction - are insecurity or blending out/ignoring the issue as far as possible.

But other responses without doubt exist - be it defiance, rejection of social standards, aggressiveness, vindictiveness, exaggerated ambition and conformity or others more.

Vindictiveness is one I'm currently trying to explore a bit more in my story 'Energetic Expansions'.

So my question was more like an 'appeal to self' to think more along the less explored and narrated psychological responses to the weight stigma in characters - and trying to portray them.
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