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NWS - New Brother by Graeme


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Well, finally we have Graeme's story for you, New Brother.

As Graeme has agreed to participate in the New Writers Series we ask you all to welcome him and ply him with constructive comments and feedback as he makes his way through the story.

Graeme has long been a loyal contributor to the AwesomeDude Forums and it is with great pride that we welcome him and his story to the story pages of AwesomeDude.com![/b][/i]

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Thanks, Dude!

I want to say up front that I have already written ten chapters of the story, so if it looks like I'm not taking the feedback onboard, it's just that most of the story is already written. I am intending to write more, but I'm waiting until I can get some advice on what I've done so far. :D


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As stated in the intro, some chapters are currently hosted on DeweyWriter's forum.

I'll have some comments as I can get to them.

It's refreshing to see things through the straight characters' p.o.v., and to see the issues of a gay char. who's been kicked out, dealt with.

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Hey Graeme--

Nice work. All the mechanics are in place: engaging characters, great setting, strong plot and a sock-o beginning. I think this is gonna be a winner.

i appreciate the social relevance as well. This is a story i could reccomend to a questioning young friend without hesitation, and that's a good thing. I keep a list of such works in a file on my desktop for just such situations, and i'm adding this one to the list.




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As stated in the intro, some chapters are currently hosted on DeweyWriter's forum.

I should warn you that the early chapters at DeweyWriter will NOT be quite the same as posted here.

Paul (gpaulbishop) was one of my early editors (and pointed me in the direction of this site as well). From chapter four, he got Aaron from the mailcrew involved in the editing as well. I was so impressed by Aaron's work that I've had him re-edit the first few chapters as well (after I went back and fixed the worst of the problems). Because I was ALSO hassling him to edit the new chapters, AND he also does the editing for Ryan Keith and at least one other author that I'm aware of, it's taken him a bit of time to come back with these early chapters. The wait has definitely been worthwhile, though.

So the delay has been because I've wanted Aaron to go over the early chapters, but I also told him to give it low priority, as he has a lot of other commitments.

Finally, taking the risk of hijacking the thread, today is Aaron's 16th birthday -- so here is another public thank you to the Wunderkid who's made such a difference to the story.



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Hello All,

I am so glad that y'all like Graeme's story. Not only is it finely crafted, but a tale well told. I too need to point out that Aaron's eye is sharp which improved the final product considerably. I also desire to wish Aaron a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :mrgreen:


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I want to say up front that I have already written ten chapters of the story, so if it looks like I'm not taking the feedback onboard, it's just that most of the story is already written. I am intending to write more, but I'm waiting until I can get some advice on what I've done so far.

I read about halfway through the first chapter and then said, "Eh, not quite my cuppa." Why? Well it didn't grab me. I like a story that gets my attention immediately. But then, I went and finished the first chapter from where I left off and it got better. More importantly, I loved the second chapter. So, just in case you care, I really DO like it.

I should know better. Dude hasn't let me down very often here :)

-- wbms

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Thanks, WBMS.

I've always felt that the first chapter was the weakest, but I've had trouble working out how to make it stronger. After agonising several times on it, I eventually gave up and moved onto the rest of the story.

If you have any suggestion, I'll be happy to take them on. I've already re-written parts of that chapter a couple of times, and if I can make it better, it's something I'd like to do (even if it's awhile before I get back to doing it).

Paul said to me when I was first writing it, chapters one and two are really two sections of one chapter. I've always felt that both chapters had to be published together, and Paul was just saying that in a different way.


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Ummm, excuse me, but now that four chapters are up, does anyone have any constructive criticisms?

This is the first thing I have written since school (which is WAY too long ago) and, while Aaron has done a brilliant job of editting, I can't believe no one (apart from WBMS) has anything to say that can help me improve my writing.

Graeme :?

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I hadn't realized 3 and 4 were up here and I just read them. It's going to take me a while longer to think on the story, in any literary criical mode. So far, I'm simply moved to say, wow, that's a good story, with strong characterizations and plot, and it's very moving.

Again, I think you've made a smart move by making the central character a straight guy who's thrown into confusion at the plight of Adam, and having to work through many of the preconceptions. However, the little story of the joey gives an important clue about David's innermost character. I figure we'll learn more about just what Adam is going through as the story goes on.

I'll put my critic's hat on eventually and give it a look-see. :)

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Like WBMS, I gave up about halfway through the first chapter, but then started again and couldn't put it down. Like everybody else has said, I like the original approach you've taken with it. It's earned a place on my "stories to follow" list, that's for sure.

It kept me up later than I had hoped reading it, but since it was good, I guess I can forgive ya. :wink:

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Thanks, EleCivil,

Can you tell me why you gave up? Too boring at the start? Too much character background information being supplied and not enough happening to keep the interest?

I would like at some stage to go back and try to fix chapter one, but I would like some suggestions on what you feel is going wrong. Suggestions on how to fix it would be even more appreciated! :D



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I think it was mainly all the character introductions. They seemed to come really fast and close together. To tell you the truth, I just kind of skimmed through those enough to get the characters' real names and nicknames, then moved on. As far as suggestions on how to fix it, I'm not really sure how (or if it even needs fixing - could just be my short attention span. I blame the music videos and interweb machines :roll: ).

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I enjoyed 5, and hope the "missing link" to 6 will be fixed soon. (Relax, guys, I sent Dude and aussie_gw a note.)

Must say, though, that David's reaction at the end of 5, grr, kid has a temper and some issues. Just when I think he gets it! He's really got a lot to learn, still. But of course, that's the point of the story, and well worth exploring.

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Yep, I liked 5, too. I like the way you didn't give away who was in the hospital until the end. Way to keep me on my toes.

Thanks! I had several attempts in wording that opening section to make sure it would have that affect without making it sound stilted.


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Dude asked in the News for this week if he was the only one disturbed by the homophobic nature of the narrator.

I know he isn't, as I've had someone else tell me that they are enjoying the story but they are reading slowly because they have to take their homophobia in small doses.

I also suspect that others have simply switched off and stopped reading. This was something I was aware could happen when I chose to write the story the way I did.

I will admit that I've been pleasantly surprised about the minimal amount of negative feedback I've had on this topic. I was bracing myself for a lot more.

So, in the interests of learning more and trying to improve my writing, what are other peoples opinions?

Is the story better or worse with the homophobic content?

When I originally had the idea of writing a "coming-out" story from a non-gay point of view, I could have used a sympathetic narrator. I chose a homophobic one because I thought it would increase the tension and conflict and provide more options for interest. Did I make the right choice?


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This is a hard story for me to read. You hit it dead on when you said that some are taking it a little at a time--that's me. The only 2 things that really keep me going, oddly, is the facts that David likes animals as much as he does, and that he love his brother so much. Otherwise, he's a crashing dunderhead. And he's not a whiner, i'll give him that. He's trying to figure it all out, and he doesn't just tune out facts that don't agree with his worldview, so there's hope for him yet.

As i said at the beginning of the tale, the mechanics are all in place. I like the pacing, the language is strong and confident--good writing, in a word. I'll still put this on my list of stories for the newly out and questioning, but more as a cautionary tale than as an affirming one (though one should never judge an unfinished product, and i reserve the right to change my mind--maybe i'll be back in the "affirming story" camp by the end). I think that the range of responses that adam gets from his friends is a true one...though it's been many a long year since i came out. At least no-one has suggested "transformational therapy" for this kid, as my pastor at the time did for me.

The bottom line, i suppose, is that i'll stick with it for awhile and see where it goes.



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I'll take this opportunity to be a bit more specific at my lack of comfort with having a homophobic narrator tell the New Brother story.

What puzzles me is where does David's homophobia come from? He is brought up in a loving household with no strict conservative religious values being drilled into his head. His brother is open, loving and tolerant as are both his parents. He is otherwise -we are led to believe- a normal boy who loves animals. Is it his schooling? No... doesn't seem to be. Among his friends and even his girlfriend, he is the only real homophobe other than the totally whacko father of Aiden. From what The Pecman and others tell me about plots I learned that what happens should naturally be the result of things that come before. A kind of cause and effect relationship. This is what puzzles me in this story. There seems to be no cause for the intense homophobia we are witnessing. And since the homophobe is actually our narrator, there is nothing in his stream of consciousness that gives us a hint as to what his problem is.

Now if this totally unjustified and irrational homophobic reaction to Adam's being gay puzzles me, then what kind of a signal does it send to gay or bi or questioning youth reading this story?

Other than not enjoying stories with unlikable main characters, this is my biggest concern with New Brother.

While reading the thought has come up many times that the homophobic aspect could have been covered in a more acceptable way if Randy had been the narrator.

Well, having never written any fiction for publication, I have to say that all my observations are purely as a reader. And we still have many chapters to go. I am not bailing out, but am -like aj- taking it slow.

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Hi, Dude,

Thanks for the comments. You've picked up on what is probably the biggest weakness of the story -- the justification for David's homophobia. You are not the first to question this either.

I have tried to explain it early in chapter 3:

It?s obvious that Randy doesn?t know any of the stories I?ve heard from the older guys at school. Gay guys just aren?t to be trusted. Some of the Catholic guys make comments about burning in Hell. I?m not strongly religious, but put together with the other things, it all adds up to the fact that you just can?t trust poofters. I don?t recall any conversations here at home on this topic. The issue of homosexuality has just never cropped up, at least in my earshot. Is that why Randy isn?t reacting properly? He hasn?t heard Mum and Dad tell it as it really is and he hasn?t learnt at school yet how to watch out for himself. The teachers certainly don?t mention it. It?s one of those things that you have find out from the other guys.

I'm taking the example here from my own upbringing. Homosexuality was a subject that I didn't hear discussed by any adults until I was in my late teens. As a consequence my opinions on the subject (even though I knew I'm gay at that early age) were largely driven by my peers at school which in turn were driven by older siblings, etc.

Randy is two years younger than David and hence has had that much less exposure to these attitudes from other school kids.

David, who has received more "social indoctrination", reacted as he had been "taught".


Apart from the strong reaction in chapter two and the followup in chapter three, I would personally question whether David is particularly homophobic. I would ask you to consider whether his attitude to Adam is because he's gay, or whether it is because he's having trouble coping with the results of that announcement. I may be drawing a fine line here, but it's one that I consider important. Just because he's taken a dislike to Adam and Adam is gay, does not make David homophobic. Even his reactions in chapters five and six are directed at Adam because of the consequences of the announcement, not at Adam's homosexuality itself.

Now if this totally unjustified and irrational homophobic reaction to Adam's being gay puzzles me, then what kind of a signal does it send to gay or bi or questioning youth reading this story?

You are right to consider this as a potential issue. I would argue that all homophobic reactions are irrational anyway, but that is besides the point.

My response would be that I would ask them to continue reading. There are a couple of lessons I believe can be learnt in the story.

1) Try to look at things from the other persons point of view. By presenting a story from a non-gay point of view, I'm trying to show how others can react in an apparantly illogical manner, but that it seems to make sense to them.

2) Don't assume that if someone has a bad reaction to your "coming out" that it is automatically homophobia. David has had a particular bad reaction (okay, I'll admit that I made it particularly strong) but later chapters do not show that attitude continuing. Look carefully at WHY David continues to have a conflict with Adam. It is NOT because he's gay. It is because of what is going on around the two of them, and David doesn't like THAT.

Thanks again, Dude, for posting your comments. I found them very useful in working out what things I need to improve in my story development.


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Oh, and if it comes over as I'm being a bit defensive, please remember that this is my first story. :D

I'm not offended by reasoned criticism, but furious rationalisation after the fact is something I do regularly. When I run out of steam, I usually concede the argument :wink:


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(Potential spoilers)

I'm going to have to go with GW on this one - I wouldn't call him homophobic, per say. His reaction in 5 was almost justified, even if completely misguided and overly hostile. After what happened, I can see why he'd lash out like that. Seeing his brother in the hospital like that - yeah, he'd be on emotional overload, and that combined with his confusion toward the whole issue makes it a realistic reaction. He probably would have had the same reaction if Adam was straight and, say, the target of gang violence. "The gangs are after Adam, so my brother shouldn't hang around with him" is pretty close to "The homophobes are after Adam, so my brother shouldn't hang around with him." Basic survival instinct.

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This is Aaron. I can understand Dude's questioning the reason for David's reaction being so much different from Randy's. During the editing I told Graeme that we were wondering the same thing. Then he added the paragraph in Chapter 3 that he quoted in his post and asked if we thought that was sufficient. We did.

We are surprised that anyone would have a negative reaction to the story, but maybe that's a generational difference. Homophobia does not usually come at us in small doses in real life. It's all around us, and we face it head on, whenever possible. We can't hide from it. All teens that we know who have read (are reading) the story love it. We have the advantage of having read all ten chapters, so I can only ask that all of you keep reading. Chapter 8 is our favorite, but we love them all.

David does seem homophobic early in the story when he is worried that Adam will do something improper if he is shares Randy's bedroom. Other than that, we agree with Graeme that David is possibly not strongly homophobic, but is reacting to what he perceives as Adam-caused problems. He's "not seeing the forest for the trees" as our parents would say. In a lot of ways David is a very typical straight teen. We wish every teen in the world would read "New Brother", especially the "David's" of the world and those who are more homophobic than David.

In the opinion of a bunch of teens, the story is very realistic. In our own school we know kids who could fill the shoes of all of the teen characters. It's been a fun coincidence for us that we have a crewmember named David, who is straight. We're thankful that our David could fit the part of Randy.

Thanks for reading this,

Aaron, for The Mail Crew

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Well, I think David in the story has absorbed all those anti-gay messages from his friends, from popular culture, perhaps even from his light or moderate religious upbringing, or from the "survival of the fittest, doesn't reproduce" pseudo-science viewpoint.

He is defending his brother. Remember too, that Adam is the first openly gay guy he's met, and previously he thought Adam was straight, so he probably thinks Adam has been "lying" to him.

Am I apologizing for, defending, David's actions? Absolutely not. I'm trying to say what his rationale seems to be, as irrational as it may be.

Yes, I've been ready a time or two to yell at David in the story, to tell him he's being hateful and thick-headed for no reason.

Oh, I think I have one other point to make. I think David is scared. He's scared that his brother might be beaten up or even "turned gay." He's scared that his (former) friend is goint to "try something." He's scared Adam's presence will imply to others that David is gay too. He's scared that his own friendly and loving feelings towards other guys might mean something else. Perhaps, deep down, he's scared he might have sexual feelings for other guys, whether he does or not.

Here he is, confronted by the consequences of being out, right up close and personal. But he's still homophobic. Why? He hasn't unlearned all those falsehoods yet.


A personal comment: I've several times posted things about my own confused feelings growing up and as an adult.

Those of you who came out as teens or grew up without thinking that being gay was in any way wrong or different, you have a very different mindset and life-experience than I do.

I wasn't like David. I couldn't be.

I would have been like Randy, except hiding that I was gay, out of fear of the moral paradox and a bad memory.

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Despite some misgivings about the main character, I DO like New Brother! There are enough likable characters -important to me- to offset the confusion David is going though.

I said some weeks ago that I like to have a wide variety of stories on the site and that I do like to push the envelope a bit. This is just a variation on that theme.

I feel duly put into place by Aaron who points out the "generational difference" between us! Moded! Heh heh... Just wait, you won't always be 16, Aaron!

Anyway, I hope this provokes some of you to say how you feel about stories here... which helps all of us to develop... whether we be readers, writers or editors.

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