Author Topic: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop  (Read 5304 times)

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Adelaide

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You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« on: February 06, 2012, 10:54:19 PM »
I write fiction on a pretty popular (not mainstream or "official", just gets a lot of hits from writers and readers) site, along with a few thousand other authors. One of the stories I'm in the process of writing I've rated T for Teen, meaning it's suitable for people 13+, on the site's official rating system. Now, I've had one girl write a review for every single chapter of what I've posted saying how much she likes it, which is of course flattering. She's mentioned several times that she doesn't want to see any "kissing or snogging" as it's "gross". I thought nothing of it.

However, today she happened to mention that she's 12 years old. This was a pretty big shock. She's 12-no wonder she thinks kissing scenes are "gross", and this piece that I'm doing is about to mention that and a lot more. It's not a Mature-rated work, but I will be briefly alluding to and skating around some very "adult" things, like handcuffs lying on the table, emotional abuse, and two people waking up in bed next to each other. The main male character, whose POV I write in for every other chapter, is Not a Nice Man. The main female character is about to toss what precious few morals she has aside for this guy. I'm not trying to write about Hannah Montana and her giant moral compass, I'm trying to write about real people.

My point is, I don't want this girl, who's probably never even kissed anyone, learning all of this dark stuff second-hand from me or going and searching for it online. She messaged me today in the messenger system, opening up a conversation, and I need a way to suggest that she probably shouldn't read any further because she's not going to like what she sees. However, I would like to do it in a way that sounds polite without being patronizing and at the same time doesn't make the story sound super tempting to keep reading. Can anyone help me with the wording of the message? Am I out of line for trying to warn her in the first place? In a year or even less she'll "officially" be old enough to read it and the story's ratings are just guidelines, but I kind of feel like I should say something.

Ceallach

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 11:01:12 PM »
Can you recommend her to any similarly-styled writers who are a little more age-appropriate or less risque?  If so, I'd say something along the lines of:

"Hi I'm so glad you enjoy my work.  I know you found some of the kissing scenes a bit gross, it's just the direction this story is going in though so there's probably going to be a bit more of that.   I wondered if you'd read XYZ?  They're a great writer with a similar style to me that you might enjoy. A bit less of the gross stuff too!"
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Adelaide

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 11:10:29 PM »
Can you recommend her to any similarly-styled writers who are a little more age-appropriate or less risque?  If so, I'd say something along the lines of:

"Hi I'm so glad you enjoy my work.  I know you found some of the kissing scenes a bit gross, it's just the direction this story is going in though so there's probably going to be a bit more of that.   I wondered if you'd read XYZ?  They're a great writer with a similar style to me that you might enjoy. A bit less of the gross stuff too!"

I can't. I read precious few works by other authors. I tend to stick with my own stuff and stories by a handful of other people. Unfortunately, those people deal with even more "adult" themes than I do.  That's just what I'm into. I don't mean "adult" in a solely sexual way, I just mean darker themes. I don't read things that a 12-year-old could (or should) enjoy.

Ceallach

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 11:26:45 PM »

I can't. I read precious few works by other authors. I tend to stick with my own stuff and stories by a handful of other people. Unfortunately, those people deal with even more "adult" themes than I do.  That's just what I'm into. I don't mean "adult" in a solely sexual way, I just mean darker themes. I don't read things that a 12-year-old could (or should) enjoy.

Yeah I understand that - I wouldn't either.  I thought maybe there's a chance through the writing site or similar that you would be aware of somebody suitable.   

Unfortunately we can't police what other people do on the internet - which is why parents need to!   I wonder if you should consider making the rating on your story higher?  A lot of people think that *close enough* to the age is good enough, but in this case if 12 isn't suitable perhaps 13 isn't either?   Her parents might at a glance go "Oh it's suitable for teens, she'll be fine" not realising that it's a little dark.   Is there a rating somewhere between the 13+ and mature on the scale that you could fit into?
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Deetee

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 11:31:43 PM »
I'm sure I won't be the only one to mention this, but I was reading some much more explicit material at 12 (happy hooker, Clan of the Cave Series series, Heinlein) without the benefit of the internet.

It's not your job to protect her from ideas.


Adelaide

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 11:39:42 PM »

I can't. I read precious few works by other authors. I tend to stick with my own stuff and stories by a handful of other people. Unfortunately, those people deal with even more "adult" themes than I do.  That's just what I'm into. I don't mean "adult" in a solely sexual way, I just mean darker themes. I don't read things that a 12-year-old could (or should) enjoy.

Yeah I understand that - I wouldn't either.  I thought maybe there's a chance through the writing site or similar that you would be aware of somebody suitable.   

Unfortunately we can't police what other people do on the internet - which is why parents need to!   I wonder if you should consider making the rating on your story higher?  A lot of people think that *close enough* to the age is good enough, but in this case if 12 isn't suitable perhaps 13 isn't either?   Her parents might at a glance go "Oh it's suitable for teens, she'll be fine" not realising that it's a little dark.   Is there a rating somewhere between the 13+ and mature on the scale that you could fit into?

Unfortunately not. You're either Teen or Mature. I might need to consider bumping it up to Mature. The site says that Mature stuff is suitable for 16+, but that's the highest rating on the site and it tends to carry different connotations, much like an R-rated movie would. I wish there was something between Teen and Mature though, or that there was a higher rating than Mature offered, or a rating between Teen and Mature.

Deetee, it isn't so much her age that's throwing me off as her complete naivety about the world, a naivety she's expressed that she isn't in a hurry to get rid of. I'm not trying to police what she's exposed to. I'm just debating on a way to give her a polite heads-up without sounding like "Stop reading my story because it has exciting adult things in it and you're too little!" because she's expressed that she doesn't want to read about things like the events which are about to occur in the story. This is a story she obviously likes and has bothered to comment on and follow for some time.  I've gently said that I will be, in fact, including some romance in the story and she replied "ok, some is ok but not too much I hope!" So far it's been tame but it won't stay that way, and I would just like to mention that to her before she keeps reading and expecting more of the same.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 11:45:45 PM by Adelaide »

Ceallach

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2012, 11:40:07 PM »
I'm sure I won't be the only one to mention this, but I was reading some much more explicit material at 12 (happy hooker, Clan of the Cave Series series, Heinlein) without the benefit of the internet.

It's not your job to protect her from ideas.

I do agree with this - I definitely read much more mature content at that age.

However, my responses are based on the fact she's been referring to kissing as "gross" - it seems quite immature both that she'd think that, but also that she'd write it as a comment in response to the story.  She doesn't sound like a particularly mature girl who reads diversely, more like a girl looking at something that's beyond her comprehension.   But I agree that ultimately there's not a lot for OP to do and it's not her responsibility.
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WillyNilly

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2012, 11:56:05 PM »
If she is 12 she needs to have a guardian adult monitoring what she is reading on the internet or else your fiction that alludes to adult themes is the least of what will shatter her innocence.

...and please do note my usage of the opening phrase: if she is 12. Remember the old cartoon, "on the internet no one knows you're a dog". 12 year old girl is a rather popular fake identity and you are talking about a fiction site.

Adelaide

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 12:01:34 AM »
If she is 12 she needs to have a guardian adult monitoring what she is reading on the internet or else your fiction that alludes to adult themes is the least of what will shatter her innocence.

...and please do note my usage of the opening phrase: if she is 12. Remember the old cartoon, "on the internet no one knows you're a dog". 12 year old girl is a rather popular fake identity and you are talking about a fiction site.

Trust me, she's 12. If that old. I've skimmed some of the stories she's written and she writes and talks like a young kid. Undercover cops couldn't sound more convincing. I'm kicking myself for not seeing it before.

Slartibartfast

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 12:07:49 AM »
Two elements to this:

1) If you're a writer (or producing any other type of creative content), you have to just accept that you have no control over who reads/consumes/appreciates your work.  Your mom, your second-grade teacher, the kid you used to babysit - they are all equally able to see what you wrote.  A writer friend of mine (who writes fairly graphic erotic romance) was approached at a family reunion by a great-aunt who proudly told her "That hero of yours in your last book really did it for me!"

2) That said, it sounds like this girl has an incorrect understanding of how the author/reader relationship works.  She gets no say in how your story unfolds, how much romance there is, or what the characters do.  Her chat comment to you ("Some [kissing] is ok but not too much I hope!") suggests she probably thinks, at least on some level, that you're writing this story specifically for her enjoyment.  That somehow you have an obligation to deliver a reading experience that she'll appreciate and love.  I suspect this may be because she feels you "owe" her, since she's reviewed the other chapters, but please don't feel that she's right!

I suggest the next time you get the opportunity, through private chat or whatever, you gently reinforce that she is not the target audience for your story.  "I'm glad you're enjoying it, but I'm pretty sure you probably won't want to read all the way through to the end.  The rest of the book deals with a lot more romance, including an abusive relationship, and I know in the past you've said you don't want to read about that kind of thing.  I'm happy that you've enjoyed the first half of my story, though!"

When it comes down to it, you can't keep her from reading it.  You can't even keep her from posting "O M G too much kissing ew ew ew!" comments about it.  But you can gently point out that a) this IS rated for 13-and-over, and b) you warned her specifically that she might not be old enough to handle the content.

Isometric

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 12:18:10 AM »
I think you've done everything in your power to warn her about upcoming plotlines, using the ratings system and also telling her via message to expect more of the same. Apart from that, there's really not much you can do.

Like PP's I was also reading somewhat "mature" books, but I would die if my parents or adults knew what I was reading, just due to pre teen embarrassment. She might actually like reading the kissy parts, as it gives her a way to indulge her curiosties, (which are to be expected at that age) in a "safe" non threatening way. 

O'Dell

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 12:19:46 AM »
I'm sure I won't be the only one to mention this, but I was reading some much more explicit material at 12 (happy hooker, Clan of the Cave Series series, Heinlein) without the benefit of the internet.

It's not your job to protect her from ideas.

I agree with this, but I also think it's fair to give her a warning so she can make a more informed choice to keep reading or not. Slartibartfast has some good wording. I think you might want to add that if she stops liking the story or something makes her uncomfortable, that it's okay if she stops reading it and giving reviews.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Calypso

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 12:27:53 AM »
Initially I was going to POD Deetee, remembering quite well that I read all kinds of "age inappropriate" things when I was 12 and the one sure way to get me to read more of them was to try to tell me not to (fortunately no one tried to censure what I read, so I really just focused on good stories, not sensation-for-sensation's sake).

But the more you tell me about your reader, Adelaide, the more I think it *would* be worthwhile saying something to her.
How about "I've enjoyed your comments, and I've really given a lot of thought to what you've said. I think I can safely say that the direction my story is going is not one you're going to be into. There will be a lot more of the "gross" stuff and many scenes and characters that I don't think you'll much care for. That's how this story is taking me, and I have to write the way it goes.
But, you don't have to read it. Although it's completely your choice what you read and don't read, keep in mind that you can't un-ring a bell.....once you've given space in your head to an idea, you can't kick it out. If the pictures evoked by my story are disturbing, they're more likely to linger and bother you. I've valued your feedback so far, but I think I'd rather hear what you think about the rest of my story in another 3 or 4 years [or whatever you think is appropriate, Adelaide]. I'll still be around, and still be writing. Some stories, like some kinds of food, are an acquired taste."
(then, if you really want to make her happy, add any kind comments about her stories that you can).


AngelicGamer

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2012, 12:45:37 AM »
Adelaide, is it possible to get the mods of the site involved?  I'm just thinking this way if you're not willing to talk to the 12 year old yourself.  If you are, I do agree with Slartibartfast's comment to your reader.

As someone who is on a writing site as well - fanfic, not original - if I knew that someone was reading something they shouldn't, I do report them.  I once had a 14 year old reading a very mature (NC-17) Harry Potter fic I wrote.  I felt horrible but I did point it out to the mods because I couldn't figure out a way to say "hey, stop reading this because you're underage".  It's not the same, I know, but it's a thought.




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Sharnita

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Re: You're too young to read what I'm writing, please stop
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2012, 06:21:32 AM »
If "Teen" is 13+ and she is 12 she is right on the borderline chronologically.  SHe might not be close in her personal development but then a lot of readers might not if it is available to 13+.  I would consider moving it to "mature" with an explanation to the readers.