Today’s Misdemeanor: Stalking
Boy meets Girl. Boy follows Girl. Boy can’t get Girl out of his head. Boy starts showing up where the girl is supposed to be….obvious places…like her bedroom. Sound familiar?
I think the worst ‘stalker moment’ I had while under the influence of puberty pool molecules was calling up cute boys and hanging up as soon as they answered. Thankfully this was before the invention of caller ID.
And I myself have never been stalked by a handsome devil in black who will stop at nothing to have me (much to my dismay). But perhaps that’s what makes the literary ‘stalker’ so appealing…
While stalking has been debated about with recent YA titles like ‘Twilight’ and ‘Hush Hush’- It’s actually been used to create romantical (yes, I’m totally making up that word) tension throughout the ages.
Romeo sees Juliette and goes a little nuts. He throws rocks at her window, convinces her- not only to get married against her parents' will, but to down some poison to knock her out dead for a few days so they could be together. Looked at it this way, it all sounds a bit psycho. But Shakespeare’s play remains one of the most romantic stories in history.
'Crazy Man Behavior' (or what I like to refer to as 'CMB') shows up in a myriad of novels, genres, and scenarios. Many people can’t make heads nor tails of it. Shouldn’t the female mc’s be a little freaked out? How can they find this ‘I will have you’ attitude appealing?
As for myself, ahem, I’ll be honest. I think it’s kind of flattering when the dark brooding hottie goes after the mc with everything he’s got—social norms be dammed!
What do you think about stalking behavior in literature? Crazy romantic? Or just plain crazy?
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If the stalker is a gorgeous hottie vampire/misunderstood super hero/man with ISSUES and all super duper GORGEOUS (of the brooding young Marlon Brando type brooding) then yes, please stalk away! LOL!
I'm trying to rack my poor empty brain for any literary examples but it's 9.30 am Monday morning and I've not had my coffee.
Or my dark brooding stalker fella whereever he is!
Hmm...has to be done right. If it is like Romeo and Juliet, it isn't up there in your face/at the forefront of the story. It seems (and I mean SEEMS) harmless in that respect. In Twilight? Not so much. It isn't subtle, it is in your face and at the forefront. I would have freaked out if I had been Bella... then again, lots would not have happened had I been Bella. :D
It just depends on how it is done, I suppose. Otherwise, it's just crazy.
It all depends how the author plays with it...if the MC is in love, then naturally she or he will think stalking is romantic. If not, then its just creepy lol
I don't write YA fiction so I really don't know what is out-of-bounds. However, I think that if it's common, you should write about it. I don't know if it should be glorified but written about should be okay.
The difference between literary stalking and real life stalking is the stalkers are driven by REAL love. Real life stalkers are driven by possessiveness and the difference is immediately apparent.
And girls love the idea of some gorgeous man obsessing over them to the point of being able to think of nothing else. That kind of stalking is hot.
I've got a split personality on the subject. Part of me is "awwww" that the guy is so smitten he doesn't care how bizarre and smothering his behavior might be. The other part of me (gotta be the mom side) is freaked out and has 911 on speed dial.
I have to say that it depends on what other characteristics the stalker has . . . serial killer? Not so much. Good heart, okay, yeah.
If it reads like stalking, then no. If it reads like any normal adolescent teenage angst, then yes.
It depends on how it's written. Worse than that and what I see trending is a girl giving up everything (family and friends) for a guy she's obsessed with. Just not healthy.
I never called any cute boy and then hung up, but I did memorize their phone numbers and license plate numbers. How strange is that?
It depends on who the stalker is: if it's a 12 year old girl memorizing a phone number it's cute. If it's a 50 year old man memorizing a phone number it's creepy!
It definitely depends on how it's written and the suspension of belief we're willing to give to the situation. There's a fine line here.
When I was a teen I went on a lot of walks... right past the house of the current crush. I was relentless. He probably hid inside. I was never confident enough though, to ring the bell or corner him... it was only chance if I saw him and there was a two minute convo...
Since that time though, I've had a sort of stalker... a man who seemed nice enough that I met on the street (he stopped me to tell me he thought I was beaufiful and we talked about five minutes). Turned out he parked his car on the route I walked and would stop me almost every morning to say hello... then I found out he would drive around until he spotted me before parking--this was NOT a chance meeting... then I changed my route and he still found me... so I REALLY changed my route.)
I no longer tolerate it in literature. Romeo throwing rocks at the window is okay--Juliet never discourages him. Edward climbing in Bella's window? Ick. (almost as icky as her lack of personality) I think reality just brought home how it really felt, and it no longer seems cute to me.
I think if done WELL the Guy Gone Crazy in fiction is sweet. It is romantic. BUT it is ONLY romantic because the girl returns the feelings. If a girl doesn't return the sentiment....it's looked at as: this guy is freaking crazy - someone help me (cue romantic interest).
I don't, however, think this ever works in real life. A little crazy in love sure. But anything more than a little and most girls will be running for the hills.
i think laurie faria stolarz did a great job with this in 'deadly little secrets'.
the stalker character starts off seeming very enamored with the female lead and as the book continues his actions become more and more creepy.
Just plain crazy!
My sister is a forensic psychologist and wrote her thesis on stalking, and while she was in school, I had my eyes opened to dozens of pop culture references to stalking I'd never considered (ie: Eery Breath You Take, Police). I'm much more aware now that I have a new stepdaughter, but I think there IS a fine line between what's romantic and what's crossing that line - and maybe, it's a bit subjective. Because while I I'd be creeped out by "Edward" sneaking into my bedroom to watch me sleep, I'd leave the window wide open, drop down a ladder, and change my sheets for Damon :-)
I think is weird how the things we see as stalkerish or obsessive as adults are considered romantic in YA.
A guy at university once threw stones at my housemates window (and sang her a song) but it was kind of creepy. lol.
I really like your blog! I'm a new author and have enjoyed this new experience. I find that it's the most difficult and most rewarding. I'm also a graphic designer and love having that creative outlet as well.
Thanks for your post! I will be back for more updates. :-)
I was SUCH a stalker when I was in middle school - even high school - but it was entirely unintentional! See, I have the weirdest memory ever, and it'll remember the darndest things. Especially about guys I happen to like. For example, I could even now tell you half of the class schedule of my crush in eighth grade, how much soda he drank during state testing, and what his favorite jacket/shirt looked like. Seriously. And I went to no effort to find that out, it was just little things I heard that took place in my memory. I also know where he lives. Creepy, yes. My fault? NO! :D
But yeah, real-life non-hottie stalkers aren't much fun. At least, not when they're for real stalkers. 'I'll walk you home and bother you a bunch at school' is annoying, but not scary.
Good post, it made me think a lot about stalkers in literature. Although, to be fair, it was the priest who convinced Juliet to drink the poison, not Romeo. And THAT is a whole different sort of creepy. :D
When I was an impressionable tween, I saw a movie with Martin Sheen (I think) where he kidnaps a runaway teenager. She develops Stockholm syndrome or something and eventually falls in love with him, in spite of the fact that he's much older and a little crazy.
I remember thinking it was hot.
Now I think it's creepy. To pretend it's romantic gives adolescents a funky idea of what is appropriate and what is potentially dangerous.
Creepy! Really creepy. Plus, it gives girls the wrong idea when it's made to sound romantic. There's nothing romantic about an obsessed guy following you around and fantasizing about you. :(
Crazy romantic!!! I can't get enough of it.
Personally the stalking thing creeps me out. But I've always liked my space so if someone was always around me, I'd get cranky and tell them to piss off.
It's not stalking if the guy is hot and the attention is appreciated. I prefer to think of it as "wooing" instead. It sounds much nicer.
Hey, I'm a guy and I think stalking a girl is not cool and is plenty of freaky. And guys aren't the only stalkers...has anyone seen the movie Fatal Attraction?
Anyway, interesting points, especially the Romeo and Juliet reference.
From a non-writer's perspective, I think you would have to be careful with "stalking." I think Stina's comment makes lots of sense--you would never want to plant a seed that most stalking behaviors by a male are romantic.
I think it depends on the girl's attitude towards the stalker. If she's Bella, and she's totally in love with Edward already, she probably doesn't mind too much that he's been slipping into her bedroom and watching her sleep at night (now that I say that, though, it does sound really creepy!) I agree it's romantic in books, though if that happened to me in real life, I'd probably think the guy was mentally unstable.
Like everyone else, I think it depends on how the author tackles the issue - how the girl feels. I didn't mind it at all in Hush, Hush. I thought it was kind of endearing. There have been titles I thought were more creepy, though. :-)
I love it! I wiah I had a man pay that much attention to me. Only in my dreams ...
It's all in how the author handles the situation, it could be very good, especially if he's tall dark & handsome, but that could also be super creepy. Stalking gives me the creeps, most likely even if it's done right, lol!
I'm in the *ew* camp for this one - stalking is SO not hot :D Love the interesting questions you come up with!!
pssst blackjack contest underway. I need another winner so I can go to work with a clear conscience. Should I hit you?
I do find it a bit annoying, but then those kinds of books don't tend to be written with me in mind.
I'm like you. I find it a little flattering. I LOVED Hush, Hush and thought Patch was just the cutest thing EVER.
Hahaha! I did the teenage phone stalking thing, too. Thank the Lord there was NO caller ID waaaay back then.
Stalking is only appealing if you want the stalker as much as the stalker wants you.... even if you don't admit it. If the affection is unbalanced though, it gets creepy.
I think a lot of women love the idea of a guy that just can't get enough of them though!
I'm in the camp that considers stalking pathetic...on any level. Dude...man up...ask the girl out and if she says no then move on!
lol glad I wasn't the only teenage hanger-upper girl!
In a Twilight fantasy setting, it works. Because in a fantasy setting, stalking can be fantastic, because it's not real.
But in mainstream YA, it has to be written seriously and have consequences. Stalking is seriously scary stuff. If we write about it in a trivial manner, we may lead our readers to believe it's not serious. Which is even scarier.
It can be both. Psycho killer type is a stalker from hell. Cute, romantic guy w/ intense personality -- sexy stalker!
It totally creeped me out in Hush, Hush. I did not like it, especially since the book is for young girls who are going to think this is a good thing. Ew.
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