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Crafting Consent and Confusion

Just in case, I'm going to say Trigger Warning because I'm vaguely discussiong consent.

"Follow me if you want to live". Were some elaborate stranger you thought would never talk to you suddenly say those words to you, would you follow? Here lies the struggle of the socially-conscious writer. On one hand, following a stranger into an unknown and dangerous world unseen makes for a great story, but when does your curious and confused protagonist consent to this adventure? Is it when the bomb goes off, the aliens come, or is it ten pages later when things are finally explained to them?These moments in a narrative bring an uneasy dynamic within the story and it's intention. We have, essentially, stripped away a fictional person's ability to say "no" or "yes" before doing something that is supposed to be a catalyst in thier life.An even more uneasy dynamic is brought in when the person being pulled into action is a woman or girl. Sure, they're about to go on an amazing adventure, but they don't know that. In real-life statistics, they could be in danger. They could more realistically die because someone said "do this" and they went along with it. Every moment of not knowing what's going on could turn sour, and that's kind of terrifying.


Furthermore, why doesn't the protagonist push back along the line? If things get too uncomfortable, why can't they back out? Is it because it wouldn't make a good story?Is it because they've learned that there are worse consequences to backing out?I feel that this creates a muddled concept of consent.Within all the talk of enforcing consent and options, why do so many stories involve people being forced into a vague consent, and we eat it all up? Is it because of the terrifying nature of not knowing whether someone's following their killer or their savior?Is it because we understand that underneath it all, the protagonist really wanted to go on an adventure?

Now, there is always the argument that since this is all in the realm of fiction and everything turns out fine anyway, there is no harm done. I'm hesitant to go through this narrative device without some critical thought...especially since a story that I'm wring involves it. I want the confusion of not knowing what's going on and the excitement of discovering something new...but for some reason I feel that this cannot happen with a moment taken for my protagonist to say "yes". I want that urgency of being taken somewhere for important purposes that you don't quite understand, but I'm looking back on what I've written and I feel uneasy. Nobody asks to go on an adventure, but an adventure is always a nice thing to have in a story.

I want to have my character agree to the adventure before her, but I also want her to have no idea what's going on. There are, through the various narratives I've exposed myself to, two options: change the character or take away the urgency. To make the character more of a trusting person, almost to a fault, creates a more logical progression of events at least in the sense of motivation. "If this, then that". It doesn't excuse the secondary character taking the protagonist on an adventure for taking advantage of the protagonist's trusting nature.To give the protagonist more time to make a decision would not make sense in the frame of building a sense of confusion. It's good to not know what's going on. It's when you don't know where you're being taken that the lines of consent get blurred.

Perhaps there is another method that I am not aware of? I am invested in the value of consent, and I would like to reflect that within my writing, but sometimes there are adventures to be had. Advice would be helpful, or maybe anecdotes where strangers got you involved with positive experiences without you knowing all the details, and how you handled it.

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