Recently this issue reared it’s ugly head. I say ugly head because I believe sometimes we need to get dirty in order to tell a story with as much truth as it deserves. Just to clarify, it wasn’t me who was concerned but a fellow writer. They prefer not to use profanity, or sex or other more sensitive topics and issues within their stories. I, on the other hand, tend to lean towards whatever the story requires in order to move it forward and well, whatever it takes…just tell the damn story.
- Do you allow your personal feelings about these elements to keep you from pushing the boundaries in order to not violate some sacred or self imposed oath you’ve made?
- Are you afraid of what Mary Jo at PTA will say when she sees the F word in your book?
- Do you allow the judgments of others to hold you back from expressing yourself?
- Are some subjects just too taboo for you to touch?
- Would you use a different pen name if you had to in order to protect yourself out of fear that someone you know might raise an eyebrow?
There are all brands of writers. If you enjoy writing books that are cozy and comfortable, I applaud you. That’s your lane and you’re comfortable in it. This post isn’t about you. You’re fine doing what you love and most likely, your audience loves you for these sweet stories. This post is for those who hold back from pushing a readers buttons or fears some sort of backlash if they explore new subject matter or God forbid, a character does something bad.
Just to clarify again, I have authored two book series’ that couldn’t be more different. They are both Historical Fiction but one is a family saga / paranormal and the other is about the Golden Age of Piracy. One story explores love, relationships, spirituality and faith while the other delves into the dark, dank and seedy atmosphere of piracy, murder and every other awful thing you can imagine. I know deep down that I haven’t fully explored myself as a writer and in truth, I have no reservations about digging deeper and I already have a story on my imagination radar that will push my limits even further.
The point I’m making is there are plenty of wonderful, wholesome and clean books out there. My Fireflies series are two good examples of that. Although they explore relationships and adult subject matter, it is written as to how a family in a small town in 1800’s Pennsylvania would experience it. Then at the opposite end of the bookshelf, are my pirate tales. Violence, foul language, sexual situations, objectification of women, rape, murder, thievery and abuse are prevalent throughout. I’m not afraid of that. I’m not afraid when my characters are evil just as I’m not afraid when my characters are good. They reflect the era and environment in which they are written. I love Jack Sparrow but he’s about as much of a real pirate as I am.
I don’t believe what we write is any indication of our own personal moral compass. Writing is a journey in exploration of one’s imagination. Writing what we know is a proven myth, except when it comes to our characters. Just as Anne Rice has never personally interviewed nor experienced real vampires and Stephen King hasn’t encountered Giant, prehistoric insects or lived in an extra-terrestrial dome, we imagine these tales. What we hold onto throughout them are the players. People are people, whether they live in a galaxy far far away or in a world where by an unlucky draw from a fish bowl, they have to fight in a game for their lives to feed their families. Writing about pirates doesn’t make me one any more than killing off main characters book after book makes George R.R. Martin a murderer. However, that’s what makes being a writer the most wonderful and tantalizing craft!
What if Mary Shelley had created her monster like this?
Or Bram Stoker’s Dracula like this?
Okay strike that…I kinda liked Twilight but you know what I’m saying.
Now what say you?
What is OFF LIMITS?
What is it?
What’s holding you back?
2 thoughts on “#Writers and/or #Authors, Is There Anything You Won’t Write About?”
As for me, I would say that nothing is off limits. However, when I wrote my books, I definitely was nervous about venturing into creating characters who were not like me. Before my first book in 2011, each attempt of writing a book featured characters who were in some way, similar to me. However, I took a stab and went for it with the books I finished. I knew that to grow as a writer, I absolutely had to create characters who obviously had their own personalities and were nothing like me.
In each of my three books, there is a character by the name of “Jasmine Jessup.” She is the total opposite of me. She has a foul mouth with no filter whatsoever. I personally censor myself quite often. Jasmine isn’t necessarily a nasty person to people; she does care about feelings. She is just not the most cordial person.
When writing her in my first book, I wasn’t so much “afraid” or was nervous about people reading. I’ll admit; I got a chuckle when thinking of my grandmother or mother reading either of them, knowing the kind of person I am. However, I knew that in order to grow as a writer and to improve my craft, I had to get used to writing characters who were not like me and would honestly shock a lot of people.
Writing “Jasmine” really helped me as a writer. It allowed me to really get inside the mind of her as a character so that whenever it was time to write about her or her dialogue, I “became” her, which made the writing that much easier. It wasn’t really about me anymore.
Now, I can write all kinds of different characters because the process in doing so did not exist for me before. I’m sure it was in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. This is especially necessary with me and writing scripts, because about 99% of my characters are explained through dialogue, so I have to get to it much quicker than if I were writing a book and have to keep it going more consistently, since the characters are obviously talking constantly. It can be challenging, but thankfully, I feel I’ve become efficient with it.
As a writer, I also understand that there can’t be places that I’m not willing to go. As you said, these characters and stories don’t jive with any of my personal beliefs or anything of the sort. In fact, I would almost prefer to write those kinds of stories with those characters that are so different from what would be expected because I know I growing and improving as a writer.
I see I have a couple of grammar and spelling errors here. It’s driving me crazy not to be able to edit to correct them. LOL