Important anti-rape message
The mini-arc you're currently reading ends with chapter 27. After writing it, I realized I have done something I really don't agree with: using rape as part of the plot. I'm not saying rape should never belong in any story, I just don't believe I'm qualified to write about it in a way that does not trivialize it. Rape is a very serious crime which I will never excuse or agree with under any circumstance. Yet, I am guilty of trivializing it in my story, which is really something I really regret.
I have attempted to write a few stories in the past, but they all got stuck in an endless 'rewrite-loop' because I never felt satisfied with the story. As of the time of this writing (between chapter 28 and 29), I have not written a word in over a week. My motivation hit an all-time low because of the paralyzing regret over this mini-arc. In the end, I have decided to leave it as it is, and instead try to concentrate on future chapters, otherwise this story will wither into endless hiatus like a lot of other stories on this site. If I ever publish this story seriously, I'll rewrite this arc entirely, along with a lot of other chapters.
What I originally wrote in this discussion
I'd like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts on chapter 24. This is not a real chapter; I want to use this opportunity to share some thoughts on the previous chapter, the story in general as well as some of my thought processes. I'm not including direct spoilers on future chapters.
As you're probably aware of if you've read my story, I take my gender-bending very seriously. One of my biggest motivations for writing this story was exploring every aspect of a male-to-female transition I could think of. I wanted the protagonist to experience periods, hormones, bigotry, differences in physique, harassment and anything else I could think of. I knew some people would be put off by this, but the story I wanted to write was not necessarily the story everyone wanted to read.
Another important aspect of the story is trope-breaking. For those who are unfamiliar with the term: A trope is hard to explain precisely, but the dictionary definition isn't too bad: "a significant or recurrent theme; a motif." Every single cliché you can think of is a trope. Not every trope is a cliché. I think of them as hooks reader can recognize, which makes it easier for them to hook onto the story and understand what's happening.
Tropes are culture-dependent: Chinese tropes are vastly different from American. If you see a foreign movie and feel you don't understand a lot of what's going on, it's very likely that you're not familiar with the tropes the movie uses. Rather than explain too much about tropes, it's probably easier to browse a selection of them yourself. Try searching up your favorite fictions in the upper right corner and see what kind of tropes they use. It might also be useful to read 'Tropes are not bad'.
With that out of the way: I've intentionally tried to break/subvert as many tropes as possible. While I can't list every single one without spoiling elements that will come later in the story, I can give a few examples:
- Fantasy worlds (as in the worlds beyond the rifts) aren't automatically suited for human life.
- The fantasy races aren't just human variants or even humanoid as a rule. In particular, they don't all reproduce like humans.
- Unlike the Harry Potter-style contemporary setting, ordinary people (muggles) are quite powerful against magic users: They passively inhibit their powers.
My intention to subvert tropes forces me to find unconventional ways to explore gender bending-related topics. Some are easy: Since periods aren't often discussed in gender bender material, I could play that one straight, and it would still be pretty unique. Others come as a consequence of my choice of characters: Too many male-to-female characters wind up acting their new age without a good reason to do so. Why should an adult changed to a young girl suddenly act all giggly and embarrassed about stuff that bothers teenagers?
Now, sexual intercourse is another aspect of gender-bending I wanted to explore. I was always planning to include it at some point, I just wasn't sure when. Originally, I thought it would come a lot later (as in 50+ chapters into the story), but then I saw an opportunity when I introduced Haley. As a result, we have chapter 24.
I was worried that this would bother some of the readers, and it turns out I was right on that account. At the same time, other readers would like it, and as an author, I can't let myself be dictated by a minority. Having said that, I also don't want to unnecessarily alienate a portion of my readers. One of the reasons I post is to get constructive feedback. Some of the comments on earlier chapters have already changed the story from my original vision.
I can say this much: I am not planning any sexual activities anytime soon, but I can't rule out that it won't happen eventually. Regardless of how it happens, chapter 24 is about as explicit as it'll ever be: Most of it will happen behind the scenes and just be alluded to in the chapter.
Since I'm not including direct spoilers, I can't reveal exactly what happened in the chapter, but you'll find out in a later chapter. Not chapter 25, unfortunately, that's another ominous chapter...